Mandatory Licensing Regime for Virtual Asset Exchanges in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has traditionally been a hub for digital asset businesses in the region. As regulators in Hong Kong are working to tighten the regulatory regime on virtual asset exchanges, market players and investors seeking to take advantage of the burgeoning digital asset industry should keep up-to-date with the changing regulatory landscape and policy trends.

Members of Goodwin’s Hong Kong office, Chi Pan and Ingram Cheung, explore in a client alert the recently proposed mandatory licensing regime for virtual asset (“VA”) exchanges. The proposed mandatory licensing regime for VA trading platforms recommended by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (“FSTB”) of the Hong Kong Government in May 2021, as part of the proposed amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (“AMLO”), seeks to replace the existing voluntary opt-in regime. The amended AMLO was gazetted on June 14, 2022, and the first reading of the amended AMLO was conducted on July 6, 2022. The proposed mandatory licensing regime is expected to take effect on March 1, 2023.

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