Hong Kong Officially Kicks Out All Unlicensed Crypto Exchanges

Hong Kong Officially Kicks Out All Unlicensed Crypto Exchanges

Hong Kong has mandated that all cryptocurrency exchanges operating without a license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) must immediately cease operations. This regulatory move emphasizes the SFC’s commitment to ensuring a secure and transparent environment for virtual asset trading.

The ultimatum issued by Hong Kong regulators requires all cryptocurrency exchanges to apply for an operational license by February 29 or shut down within three months. In response, over 22 exchanges submitted license applications, but many withdrew their applications just before the deadline.

Among those exiting the market in May are prominent exchanges like OKX and Huobi HK. While most did not disclose reasons for their sudden withdrawals, Gate.HK cited the need for a significant overhaul of its trading platform to meet Hong Kong’s regulatory standards.

Gate.HK has since stopped acquiring new users and marketing activities, giving existing users until August 28 to withdraw their funds. The trading platform ceased operations on May 28, delisting tokens such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Solana (SOL), and Polygon (MATIC).

Gate.HK stated, “We plan to resume our business in Hong Kong in the future and contribute to the virtual asset ecosystem after obtaining the relevant licenses.”

As of May 31, 18 cryptocurrency exchanges have applied for an operational license in Hong Kong. The SFC will announce the list of approved exchanges by June 1, with HashKey and OSL Exchange currently being the only approved entities.

The SFC advises investors to consult the official list of approved exchanges to minimize risks associated with trading cryptocurrencies. Unlicensed exchanges may be forced to shut down, underscoring the importance of regulatory compliance in Hong Kong’s evolving crypto landscape.

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