Crypto Exchanges Leave Hong Kong Licensing Race

The number of cryptocurrency exchanges applying for operational licenses in Hong Kong is experiencing a decline as the deadline looms. Recently, three crypto exchanges decided to retract their license applications submitted to the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC). Specifically, on May 13, IBTCEX and QuanXLab withdrew their applications that were initially filed in February 2024. Following closely, Huobi HK, an exchange with ties to HTX, also pulled out the next day.

In total, seven crypto exchanges have withdrawn their license applications in Hong Kong throughout 2024. The specific reasons for these withdrawals remain undisclosed on the HKSFC’s website. It remains a point of speculation within the industry as the regulatory deadline approaches. All cryptocurrency exchanges yet to apply for a license must shut down their operations in Hong Kong by May 31.

As of now, 21 cryptocurrency exchanges are still in the licensing process in Hong Kong. This group includes several well-known global entities such as Bybit,, Matrixport HK, HKX, and OKX. The latest application was put forward by Bitcoin World Technology Limited on behalf of the bitcoinworld exchange, filed on May 17. This influx of applications indicates a mixed environment, with some exchanges vacating the scene while others seek to establish themselves under the new regulatory framework.

Separately, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has initiated a pilot program for the digital yuan, marking its first use beyond mainland China. This move allows Hong Kong residents to set up an e-CNY wallet using just their mobile phone number. While this wallet can currently be used for cross-border payments, its functionality doesn’t extend to person-to-person transactions at the moment.

The pilot program aims to expand the usability of the digital yuan in Hong Kong. Residents will be able to conduct transactions with their digital wallets, which they can fund through 17 different retail banks using the Faster Payment System (FPS). Eddie Yue, the chief executive of the HKMA, mentioned that the e-CNY application and wallet would eventually offer more features as both the HKMA and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) work on fostering greater retail merchant adoption.

The licensing trends among crypto exchanges and the introduction of the digital yuan in Hong Kong highlight a transformative period for the region’s financial technology landscape. These changes present both opportunities and challenges for businesses and regulators alike. The gradual integration of the digital yuan wallet and the strategic withdrawals of certain crypto exchanges paint a complex picture of the evolving regulatory climate.

As the deadline for crypto exchange licensing approaches, the industry’s response and the regulatory body’s actions will be closely watched. The efforts to balance innovation with regulatory compliance will likely set a precedent for other jurisdictions facing similar challenges. Consequently, Hong Kong’s approach may serve as a case study for financial regulators around the world looking to integrate digital currencies into their economies.

While some crypto exchanges have opted out of the licensing process, others are pushing forward, reflecting a dynamic and somewhat uncertain market environment. Coupled with the pilot program for the digital yuan, Hong Kong is at the forefront of significant financial innovation, striving to manage the delicate balance between fostering growth and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Bartie Savell

Bartie Savell

21 thoughts on “Crypto Exchanges Leave Hong Kong Licensing Race

  1. Positive regulatory changes like these can really boost confidence in the crypto market!

  2. So disappointing to see a crypto hub like Hong Kong struggle right now . Regulatory climate might need a rethink.

  3. Great to see Hong Kong pushing the boundaries of fintech innovation while maintaining robust regulatory standards!

  4. Wow, Hong Kong is really leading by example in digital currency adoption! Exciting times ahead! 🎉💼🪙

  5. The future of finance is here! Congrats to Hong Kong for being at the forefront of crypto and digital currency integration.

  6. Regulatory hurdles might be too high if even well-established exchanges are withdrawing . Time to assess and adjust maybe?

  7. It’s a bit of a joke that the SFC hasn’t disclosed why so many exchanges are exiting 🤡. Losing faith in oversight here.

  8. Love seeing Hong Kong at the forefront of financial innovation with the digital yuan and strong regulatory practices!

  9. Hong Kong’s efforts in regulating crypto exchanges and promoting the digital yuan are commendable! 🌐💸

  10. With this trend, will Hong Kong even remain a significant player in the crypto world? The future doesn’t look bright.

  11. Hong Kong’s crypto and digital yuan initiatives are incredibly forward-looking. Can’t wait to see more progress! 🚀🌱

  12. The mixed environment isn’t ideal . If innovation is stifled by unclear regulations, Hong Kong might lose its edge.

  13. Innovation + Regulation = Future of Finance! Excited to see how this plays out in Hong Kong!

  14. Very interesting developments! The evolution of the digital yuan could really transform cross-border payments.

  15. This is a really exciting development for crypto and fintech! Hong Kong is definitely a place to watch right now! 👀🚀

  16. Super interesting! The digital yuan and the new licensing requirements in Hong Kong make for an exciting fintech environment!

  17. Adaptation to new regulations can be tough, but it’s great to see many big players still in the game! Cheers to innovation and compliance!

  18. Change is in the air! The digital yuan pilot and licensing trends indicate a new era for Hong Kongs financial landscape!

  19. Kudos to Hong Kong for setting the stage for a balanced crypto environment. Challenges are inevitable, but this is a great step forward!

  20. The withdrawal of these exchanges doesn’t inspire confidence . If big names are backing out, what does that say about Hong Kong’s regulations?

  21. Scared that regulatory pressures might kill innovation here. Can Hong Kong balance it right? 🏦🔍 Not looking like it.

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