Hong Kong Cracks Down on Unlicensed Crypto Platforms Following JPEX Debacle

In response to the recent attack on crypto platform JDEX, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has announced significant measures to regulate virtual asset trading platforms (VATPs). The move comes as part of Hong Kong’s commitment to becoming a global crypto hub, with a focus on ensuring compliance with government licensing requirements introduced in June 2023.

Hong Kong Takes Firm Action to Regulate Virtual Asset Trading Platforms

Hong Kong’s SFC revealed on Monday its decision to publish a list of virtual asset trading platforms (VATPs) applying for an operating license. This initiative aims to enhance transparency and follows the fallout from the JDEX incident. The SFC will also release lists of licensed VATPs, those facing closure, and entities deemed “suspicious.”

Learning from JPEX: Hong Kong Strengthening Crypto Regulation

The regulatory body emphasized that the recent downfall of JPEX underscored the risks associated with unregulated virtual asset trading platforms and emphasized the necessity for proper regulation to maintain market confidence. The incident revealed the importance of disseminating information to the public through channels like the Alert List, warnings, and investor education to enhance understanding of potential risks associated with suspicious websites or VATPs.

Hong Kong, in its pursuit of becoming a global center for virtual assets, has set clear expectations that players must meet government licensing requirements. Despite these requirements, JPEX actively promoted its services in Hong Kong without applying for a license, a move that led to regulatory scrutiny.

The SFC, in collaboration with the police, expressed its commitment to investigating JPEX and bringing wrongdoers to justice. At least eleven individuals associated with JPEX, including social media influencers, were arrested amid thousands of fraud complaints and $128 million of missing assets, a figure that has reportedly risen to $192 million.

Enhanced Regulations and Investigations: Hong Kong’s Crypto Commitment

The SFC’s licensing regime ensures that licensed VATPs adhere to robust governance measures, covering safe custody of assets, prevention of market manipulative activities, and avoidance of conflicts of interest. As part of its efforts to protect investors’ interests, the SFC has strengthened requirements for licensed VATPs serving retail investors, including suitability in the onboarding process, enhanced token due diligence, admission criteria, and disclosures.

Despite challenges in enforcing licensing requirements, Hong Kong remains determined to pursue its crypto ambitions. The SFC acknowledges the significance of virtual asset trading in the Web3 ecosystem and positions itself as one of the first major financial regulators to introduce a comprehensive framework for regulating various virtual asset-related activities since 2017.

In addressing associated risks, the SFC asserts that its approach aligns with the latest international consensus among financial regulators. As Hong Kong presses ahead with its crypto dreams, the regulatory landscape is evolving to strike a balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding the interests of investors in the dynamic world of virtual assets.

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