Bybit seeks license in Hong Kong for crypto asset trading

Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange Bybit has applied for a license to operate as a “virtual asset trading platform” (VATP) in Hong Kong.

This move aligns with the exchange’s strategy to expand its presence in Asia-Pacific and capitalize on Hong Kong’s favorable stance towards cryptocurrency businesses.

The application, submitted through Spark Fintech Limited, places Bybit among 14 crypto firms currently under review by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), including OKX, which filed its application in November 2023.

Bybit views obtaining a VATP license in Hong Kong as a crucial step. The exchange said that the city’s strategic location and robust financial infrastructure as key factors making it an attractive base for operations and serving institutional clients in the region.

HKVAEX, another crypto platform reportedly associated with Binance, also applied for the same license earlier in January, according to the SFC’s list of applicants.

Contrary to the stricter crypto regulations on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong has been more welcoming to crypto firms. In June 2023, the city initiated its crypto licensing regime for virtual asset trading platforms, allowing licensed exchanges to provide retail trading services. To date, Hong Kong has granted such licenses to HashKey and OSL.

Moreover, Hong Kong is making strides in facilitating spot crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In December, the SFC and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority reviewed their existing policies, issuing circulars on the requirements for spot crypto ETFs. This development has sparked interest from around 10 fund companies in launching potential spot crypto ETFs in Hong Kong.

Earlier this week, Chinese asset manager Harvest Fund Management applied for a spot bitcoin ETF in Hong Kong, further signaling the city’s growing role as a hub for crypto-related financial products and services.