Hong Kong may become the next country to regulate crypto exchanges after its securities regulator announced it is exploring ways to apply quality control and protect consumers from the volatility and uncertainties of digital currencies.
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it is “setting out a conceptual framework” that could be used to regulate crypto exchanges since they currently operate outside of current regulation, which is focused on traditional investment.
“Some of the world’s largest virtual asset trading platforms have been seen operating in Hong Kong but they fall outside the regulatory remit of the SFC and any other regulators. Owing to the serious investor protection issues identified and having regard to international developments, the SFC considers it necessary to explore in earnest whether and if so, how it could regulate virtual asset trading platforms under its existing powers,” the SFC wrote.
The commission has said it intends to work with the industry itself to define what regulation should look like.
The SFC did hedge its move, however, by saying there is no guarantee that it will introduce licenses at the end of its research period. In particular, it voiced concern as to whether exchanges “would satisfy the expected anti-money laundering standards, given that anonymity is the core feature of blockchain.”
There’s also no immediate sign that Hong Kong will be requiring exchanges to be licensed.
“Those exchanges that want to be regulated by us will be set apart from those that don’t,” SFC CEO Ashley Alder told a conference, according to a report from Reuters.
Japan is best known in crypto circles for its introduction of exchange licensing. Some in the industry have criticized the Japanese regulations as being too tight. Those voices include Binance, the world’s largest trading of cryptocurrencies, which abandoned plans to seek regulation in Japan because it placed limits on which tokens can be offered to users, its CEO Changpeng Zhao previously told TechCrunch.
Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.