Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) recently launched “HKEx Synapse” (Synapse), a new blockchain-based settlement platform to complement the existing post-trade infrastructure for Northbound Stock Connect. “Stock Connect” in Hong Kong refers to a market access program through which investors in Mainland China and Hong Kong can trade and settle shares listed on the other market via exchanges and clearing houses in the home market. “Northbound Stock Connect” refers to the market access program where investors in Hong Kong can have access to shares in Mainland China.Read More
In a transformative step for the financial technology (fintech) industry, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) recently announced a new Fintech Promotion Roadmap (Roadmap), which outlines its key initiatives to be taken over the next 12 months to expedite the growth of the Fintech ecosystem and give stronger impetus to fintech adoption in the Hong Kong financial services sector.Read More
By Jay Lee
Recently, Hong Kong, through its Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, pronounced a Policy Statement on Development of Virtual Assets (“VA”) in Hong Kong (the “Policy Statement”), which sets out the government’s vision and next steps to help grow Hong Kong’s VA sector again. Hong Kong hopes to develop “a vibrant sector and ecosystem” for VA in the future. The positions set forth in the Policy Statement are widely welcomed by market participants, who hope it will attract more talented crypto-related businesses back to Hong Kong.Read More
By Rizwan Qayyum
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) have issued formal warnings to seven cryptocurrency exchanges and seven issuers of initial coin offerings. This follows their initial statement on ICOs released on 5 September 2017, and represents their first regulatory action.
The SFC has sent letters to seven cryptocurrency exchanges “in Hong Kong or with connections to Hong Kong”, which provides a warning that they should not be trading cryptocurrencies which are “securities” as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance (“SFO”) without a licence. The exchanges responded immediately, either by confirming that they do not provide trading services for such currencies or took rectification measures, including removing relevant cryptocurrencies from their platforms.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) launched a regulatory sandbox on 29 September. The sandbox provides a confined regulatory environment for qualified firms to operate regulated activities under the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) before FinTech is used on a fuller scale to the wider public. The SFC emphasises the importance of the integrity of the market and investors’ interests, and says it will not compromise regulatory requirements which are key to investor protection. For example, a qualified firm operating in the sandbox must be fit and proper and must comply with the applicable financial resources requirements.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has completed a hat trick of FinTech cooperation agreements with Hong Kong regulators by signing an agreement with the Hong Kong Insurance Authority (IA). This adds to those agreements already signed by the FCA with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) on which we have blogged in previous posts.
On 14 September the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) announced that it has signed a series of FinTech cooperation agreements with several regulators in major financial centres. The SC has established FinTech bridges with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This follows the first agreement signed between the SC and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in June 2017.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a statement about initial coin offerings (ICOs) on 5 September. The SFC noted an increase in the use of ICOs to raise funds in Hong Kong and elsewhere. The SFC said that, depending on the facts and circumstances of an ICO, digital tokens that are offered or sold may be “securities” as defined in the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO), and therefore subject to the securities laws of Hong Kong. ICOs typically involve the issuance of digital tokens, created and disseminated using distributed ledger or blockchain technology.
By Rizwan Qayyum and Robert Crea
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission released a statement discussing whether existing regulations could be applicable to ICOs. This is a move likely precipitated by China’s ban on ICOs announced earlier this week.
The Executive Director of Intermediaries at the SFC, Julia Leung, warned that purchasers and those involved in an ICO need to be “that some ICO structures may be subject to Hong Kong securities laws.”
South Korean regulators have also taken a step towards tightening ICO regulation. South Korea’s digital currency task force group, comprised of the country’s central bank, and the Financial Services Commission (amongst other bodies) held a meeting on 3 September 2017, in which they discussed ICOs. It was noted that authorities will punish ICO fundraising platforms for violating the Capital Market Act by raising funds through stock issuance using digital currencies.
On 28 August, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong entered into a co-operation agreement to establish a framework for mutual assistance to keep abreast of the development and application of FinTech in their jurisdictions. Under the agreement, the SFC and the DFSA will cooperate on information sharing, potential innovation projects and referrals of innovative firms seeking to enter one another’s markets.
The agreement follows the launch of:
- the SFC’s FinTech Contact Point in March 2016 to enhance communication with businesses involved in the development and application of FinTech and RegTech in Hong Kong. Its purposes is to facilitate the FinTech and RegTech community’s understanding of the current regulatory regime in Hong Kong and to enable the SFC to stay up to date with industry developments; and
- the DFSA’s regulatory FinTech regime (see some of our earlier posts on FinTech in Dubai – crowdfunding, accelerator and innovation testing licences)