Bitget’s Hong Kong (HK) unit will be halting its operations in the country from 13 December 2023.
Due to this, its BitgetX website will cease operation, with Bitgetx.hk permanently withdrawing from the Hong Kong market. This comes in as the cryptocurrency exchange decides not to apply for a local crypto licence.
The official announcement said: “It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that due to business and market-related considerations, we have decided not to apply for a Virtual Asset Trading Platform (VATP) licence in Hong Kong… At the same time, Bitgetx.hk will permanently withdraw from the Hong Kong market.”
The exchange had launched BitgetX HK in April this year. It functioned as a platform for spot trading and peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers. Back then, it had intended to apply for the licence under the Hong Kong Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) regime. Until then, it had been operating under the transitional arrangement that was created under the Hong Kong VASP regime until its licence application gets approved.
Following the recent decision, users have been asked to withdraw assets from now until the platform shuts down in December. After 13 December, the BitgetX website will no longer be accessible and users will not be able to manage or access their assets on BitgetX anymore.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) had allowed retail investors to trade major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin ($BTC) and Ether ($ETH) from June 2023 onwards. This regulatory framework was aimed at attracting crypto companies and providing investor safeguards with the latest guidelines.
The city sought to re-establish itself as a leading financial hub while striking a balance between embracing digital assets and maintaining financial stability. During this time, it also announced that unlicensed exchanges actively targeting Hong Kong investors will be seen as acting illegally.
Over the recent years, Hong Kong has tried to position itself as a major player in the crypto industry launching several schemes to facilitate the same. As per the latest Worldwide Crypto Readiness Report, it continues to stand on top in the list of the most ‘crypto-ready’ locations for two years in a row. This year, it secured a score of 8.6, compared with the US at 7.7 and Switzerland at 7.5.
Recently, Swiss banking giant, SEBA, became the first group of licensed corporations in the city to conduct investment services with crypto capabilities in the market. Its Hong Kong subsidiary will now be able to deal in and distribute all securities, including virtual assets-related products.
This includes over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives and structured products with underlying virtual assets, advice on securities and virtual assets, and asset management for discretionary accounts in both traditional securities and virtual assets.
The CEO APAC of SEBA Hong Kong, Amy Yu, commented on the development saying: “Our experience with the SFC has been extremely positive and it provided a facilitating environment throughout the licensing process. The region’s position at the forefront of finance, trading, and innovation has long been attractive to us, as servicing APAC clientele is an integral aspiration of the team’s DNA.
“We are tremendously excited by Hong Kong’s deep-rooted capital markets and appetite for investment and trading; to have secured this licence from the SFC provides enormous potential for our business, owing to the well-established and defined regulatory framework that is present here.”