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Crypto Rush in Hong Kong: Seven Firms, Including HTX, Apply for Licenses After Shutdown Warning

HTX (former Huobi) re-applies for the Hong Kong VATP license after the shutdown threat from the SFC 

HTX, the crypto exchange previously known as Huobi, has reasserted its ambitions in Hong Kong's competitive digital asset sphere by reapplying for a Virtual Asset Trading Platform (VATP) license. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong, the city's financial watchdog, noted this resurgence of interest on its official platform, marking a significant pivot in HTX's regulatory strategy.

Originally, HTX's application was submitted through its local subsidiary, Huobi HK, on February 20. Yet, the application was retracted just three days later, on February 23, with no explanation provided. The crypto community was left in suspense until February 26, when HTX reinitiated the licensing process, demonstrating its unwavering commitment to securing a foothold in Hong Kong's crypto market.

The backdrop of this strategic decision was last year's assertion by Justin Sun, confidently stating the exchange's strong position in Asia would be a key factor in obtaining the Hong Kong license. 

As Hong Kong's SFC amplifies its scrutiny of unlicensed crypto operations, HTX's timely reapplication signals not just a bid for compliance, but a statement of its enduring vision for a regulated, secure crypto trading environment in Asia.

The SFC displays a firm stance on crypto regulation

Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has reiterated its stringent stance on the necessity for crypto platforms to gain official licensure. The regulatory body has issued a clear ultimatum: platforms operating without a license must either secure one by February 29, 2024, or cease operations in Hong Kong by May 31, 2024. This directive is part of the SFC's broader strategy to foster a regulated and secure crypto market within the city-state.

The SFC's warning was displayed on its website, advising users that: 

"Virtual asset trading platforms operating in Hong Kong which have not submitted their licence applications to the SFC by 29 February 2024 must close down their businesses in Hong Kong by 31 May 2024. Investors using these platforms should make preparations early." 

The SFC has seen a surge in licensing applications, a testament to Hong Kong's appeal as a crypto hub. Alongside HTX, major players such as Bullish and have joined the fray, pushing the total number of applicants to 19. However, despite the growing interest, OSL and Hashkey remain the city's sole licensed exchanges.