Hong Kong grants crypto approval to a major Swiss bank

  • The bank’s Hong Kong unit would work primarily with its Zurich-based parent company to offer crypto services.
  • SEBA Bank opened a new office in Hong Kong in November 2022 for its expansion into the Asian market.

On 29 August, the Hong Kong regulator granted preliminary approval to the local arm of SEBA Bank, a Switzerland-based crypto-friendly bank.

Hong Kong’s regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), granted an in-principle approval to the bank’s unit in the country. It authorizes the bank to deal in securities, including crypto-related products such as over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives and structured products.

The bank can also give financial advice on securities and virtual assets, and offer asset management for discretionary accounts in both traditional securities and crypto assets. It expects to acquire the complete license by the last quarter of this year.

Amy Yu, CEO APAC, SEBA Hong Kong, said,

We see enormous potential in Hong Kong’s journey to becoming a global crypto market leader and look forward to contributing to that trajectory. SEBA Hong Kong commends the example Hong Kong sets for regulatory standards worldwide, and values the role of this licence in expanding our regulated footprint across Asia Pacific.

The bank provides both traditional banking and crypto services such as trading, staking, lending and custody in Switzerland.

SEBA Bank opened a new office in Hong Kong in November 2022 as a part of its expansion into the Asian market. As of now, its Hong Kong unit works primarily with its Zurich-based parent company to offer services.

How Hong Kong is adopting crypto

Hong Kong authorities issued a series of crypto-related policy statements in October 2022. The action suggested that it might reopen to ventures focusing on digital assets. In December 2022, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passed an amendment establishing a full licensing mechanism for crypto platforms offering retail trading services.

In May 2023, Hong Kong’s securities regulator announced plans to provide retail investors with access to virtual asset platforms.

Three years ago, Hong Kong regulator awarded a crypto license to OSL. Earlier this month, the regulator granted a retail crypto trading license to a local crypto asset firm HashKey. A few days back, the regulator granted an in-principle approval to Hong Kong Virtual Asset Exchange (HKVAX) as well.

It is understood that Hong Kong is strategically well-positioned to tap into the Chinese market when it opens up as its location is close to the mainland. The Hong Kong license acquired by the SEBA Bank is a part of the same process.

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