Hong Kong’s securities regulator issued a statement setting out guidelines for funds dealing with cryptocurrency Thursday, Nov. 1, saying it could move to formally regulate exchanges.
In what it called “guidance on regulatory standards,” the autonomous Chinese territory’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) set in motion a series of steps that chief Ashley Alder hinted would culminate in a formal regulatory environment.
Hong Kong differs significantly in its approach to cryptocurrency from mainland China, with cryptoasset exchange and related activities legal, though formal regulation is pending.
“The market for virtual assets is still very young and trading rules may not be transparent and fair,” Bloomberg quoted Alder as saying during a fintech forum Thursday:
“Outages are not uncommon as is market manipulation and abuse. And there are also, I am afraid, outright scandals and frauds.”
The latest proposals pertain to any fund managers investing more than 10 percent of their holdings in cryptocurrency, with entities serving exclusively professional traders able to join a sandbox scheme designed to give more room to develop new products and services.
For others, a licensing process will require entities to inform the SFC about their business practices.
The statement reads:
“In order to afford better protection to investors, the SFC considers that all licensed portfolio managers intending to invest in virtual assets should observe essentially the same regulatory requirements even if the portfolios (or portions of portfolios) under their management invest solely or partially in virtual assets, irrespective of whether these virtual assets amount to ‘securities’ or ‘futures contracts.’”
Cryptocurrency exchanges could also fall under the the SFC’s supervision more directly in future.
“…It is proposed that the standards of conduct regulation for virtual asset trading platform operators should be comparable to those applicable to existing licensed providers of automated trading services,” it adds.
Hong Kong’s sharpening of its regulatory oversight comes while more and more jurisdictions move to do the same, as Bitcoin and major altcoin markets stabilize and a general acceptance of their longevity begins to crystalize.
Last week, Taiwan announced it would release dedicated rules governing Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) by June next year, having previously chosen not to regulate the sector.