A Hong Kong lawmaker expressed worries that new stablecoin regulations could disrupt crypto markets. Image by mehaniq41, Adobe Stock.
Today, Hong Kong’s financial authorities—the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)—unveiled their plan to implement new stablecoin regulations. Not everyone thinks this is a good development for crypto markets, however.
Under the proposal, Hong Kong will require stablecoin issuers to obtain local licensing and comply with governance, risk management, and anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) standards. The regulators stated that only coins issued by licensed firms could be offered to retail investors.
Additionally, licensed entities must establish a Hong Kong-based leadership team and maintain high-quality, segregated reserves. The public can submit feedback on the proposal until February 29, 2024.
Concerns Over Global Stablecoins and Disruption
Hong Kong lawmaker Johnny Ng highlighted concerns about the policy on X. He noted that major global stablecoins like USDT and USDC already circulate without local licensing.
Ng questioned how these international coins could be traded on licensed Hong Kong exchanges under the new rules. Failure to address this could reduce trading volumes and disrupt transactions, sparking unintended consequences.
The lawmaker also pointed to ambiguity around potential transaction fees and stablecoin applications under the regulations.
JUST IN – Hong Kong really wants to take back the #crypto hub
HK FSTB and HKMA (HK “central bank”) just published a consultation paper on the legislative proposal to implement the regulatory regime for stablecoin issuers in HK https://t.co/frzIigqp6R https://t.co/CzRMIlHmcC pic.twitter.com/CKaLPUCfok
— JustDario (@DarioCpx) December 27, 2023
Earlier Crypto Efforts in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has actively pursued cryptocurrency-friendly policies to become a crypto and Web3 hub.
Last week, the city’s regulators indicated their readiness to approve spot crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This would allow listings of ETFs tracking crypto assets on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Hong Kong issued its first virtual asset service provider (VASP) licenses in August. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) granted licenses to OSL and HashKey.
Finding a middle ground may require compromise and additional policy work, however. Hong Kong has shown a proactive stance in welcoming cryptocurrencies, which could set an influential precedent.
Unfortunately, Ng’s critiques highlight the challenges of designing rules for a complex global crypto asset market, and hint that Hong Kong’s government may be acting counter to its seeming desire to be welcoming to the crypto industry. As countries around the world eye potential stablecoin frameworks, Hong Kong’s experience could offer important lessons on managing risks while enabling responsible innovation.
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