Matrixport Files Virtual Asset Trading License Application with Hong Kong SFC

Matrixport applied for a virtual asset trading license with Hong Kong’s securities regulator on Feb. 26.

A roster published on the Securities and Futures Commission website showed that the platform’s Hong Kong-based branch is called Flying Hippo Technologies.

At present, 21 companies have applied for a VA trading license in Hong Kong. Among them are Crypto.com, Bixin, HKVAX, DFX Labs, Bullish, WhaleFin. HTX (previously Huobi Global), resubmitted its application after initially withdrawing on Feb. 23. Additionally, two other firms, AMMBR and BitHarbour, had withdrawn their applications earlier.

Currently, only two platforms—OSL Digital Securities and Hash Blockchain—have been licensed by the SFC.

Matrixport’s filing comes as the deadline nears for Hong Kong-based VA trading platforms to file applications for a license. Failure to submit by Feb. 29 will result in mandatory cessation of operations by the end of May.

Earlier this year, Matrixport accurately predicted that Bitcoin would reach $50,000 following the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin Spot ETFs. As of early Wednesday, the crypto traded at about $57,062.

Unlicensed Crypto Exchanges in Hong Kong Face Legal Action

Last year, Hong Kong’s SFC introduced stricter regulations for digital asset firms. This included a licensing system for cryptocurrencies, which came into effect in June. This advancement enabled retail cryptocurrency trading after a difficult period for the industry, marked by the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange.

Not applying for a license could lead to fines and possible imprisonment. Additionally, unlicensed crypto exchanges might encounter criminal charges for actively promoting services through influencers and over-the-counter virtual asset money changers. Crypto exchange JPEX serves as an illustration of this.

Committing fraudulent or deceptive acts with virtual assets is deemed a violation under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO). Breaches of the AMLO can result in substantial penalties, including fines of up to $10,000,000 and imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years upon conviction.

SFC Urges Investors to Verify Platforms

In December, the SFC SFC issued a public caution regarding possible virtual asset scams associated with entities named “HongKongDAO” and BitCuped. The regulator suspected these entities of distributing inaccurate and deceptive information via online platforms.

Separately, the regulator advised crypto investors to only use licensed platforms and to verify the legitimacy of the exchanges they register with.

“Investors should check the regulatory status of a VATP from time to time and in any event on 1 March 2024,” the SFC said.

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