Wednesday 1 February 2023
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Hong Kong watchdog aims to restrict retail traders to liquid products

The new licensing program, scheduled to take off in June, will restrict retail traders in Hong Kong to “highly-liquid” digital assets, according to the new CEO of Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), Julia Leung Fung-yee.

At the recent Asia Financial Forum, Leung pointed out that many digital asset platforms have thousands of products. However, the SFC executive highlighted that they are not planning to “allow retail investors to trade in all of them.” Instead, the SFC will set up criteria that allow retail traders to only trade major virtual assets.

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While the SFC executive did not provide more details as to which assets will be available for trading, Leung mentioned that these will be assets with “deep liquidity.” When asked about Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH), the SFC executive did not respond, but reiterated that “highly liquid” assets will be allowed.

Despite the limitations that will be placed on retail investors, Leung highlighted that they are moving to position Hong Kong as a virtual asset hub. “We aim to have a proper regulatory framework to safeguard the interest of all investors and to enhance Hong Kong as a virtual asset hub,” she said.

The CEO also noted that proper regulation could prevent issues, such as the collapse of the FTX exchange, from happening in Hong Kong.

In a recent event, Hong Kong’s financial secretary Paul Chan said that many crypto firms are requesting to set up shop in Hong Kong. The official highlighted that the government is doing its best to provide appropriate supervision to the crypto space and realize the potential of Web3 technology.

Related: Hong Kong brokers line up for SFC approval ahead of new virtual asset trading legislation

Digital assets have recently been a hot topic in the special administrative region. On Jan. 5, a Hong Kong official floated the idea of turning the Hong Kong digital dollar into a stablecoin. Wu Jiezhuang, a legislative council member, believes this could address risks linked to digital assets in Web3.

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