Bybit seeks VATP license in Hong Kong for crypto expansion

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The cryptocurrency exchange submitted its license application on Jan 31.

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Bybit seeks VATP license in Hong Kong for crypto expansion

Bybit cryptocurrency exchange has applied for a Virtual Asset Trading Operator (VATP) license with the Hong Kong Securities and Exchange Commission (SFC).

According to the SFC’s website, the exchange applied for the license on Jan. 31 through the business entity Spark Fintech Limited. The financial regulator is reviewing 14 similar VATP applications, including submissions from the crypto exchange OKX.

Only two crypto exchanges in Hong Kong are licensed by the SFC, including the OSL exchange, which received a license on Dec. 15, 2020, and HashKey Exchange, which was licensed on Nov. 9, 2022.

The VATP license enables Hong Kong-based firms to serve retail customers, while the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license only allows companies to serve professional investors. According to Hong Kong law, investors must hold portfolios worth a minimum of eight million Hong Kong dollars ($1.03 million) to qualify for professional investor status.

Related: Hong Kong sets licensed crypto exchange insurance requirement to 50%

Hong Kong’s crypto hub ambitions

Hong Kong emerged as a leading destination for crypto companies in 2023, thanks to the city-state’s pro-crypto regulatory approach, which stands in opposition to mainland China’s crackdown on digital assets. The SFC created more crypto-oriented regulations in 2023, allowing both institutional and retail investors to participate in the crypto market.

Hong Kong was already prepared for crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications on Dec. 22, when the SFC expressed its readiness to receive applications, along with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the city’s de facto central bank.

Hong Kong emerged as a leading destination for crypto companies in 2023, thanks to the city-state’s pro-crypto regulatory approach, which stands in opposition to mainland China’s crackdown on digital assets. The SFC created more crypto-oriented regulations in 2023, allowing both institutional and retail investors to participate in the crypto market.

Other companies have already been offering futures-based crypto ETFs in Hong Kong. Samsung Asset Management launched the Samsung Bitcoin Futures ETF in January 2023 and reportedly said it wouldn’t “eliminate the possibility of exploring to launch a spot ETF.”

Related: Hong Kong SFC receives first spot Bitcoin ETF application

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