Bybit seeks crypto license in Hong Kong

Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit has applied for a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license in Hong Kong, according to regulatory filings.

Bybit has joined the list of 14 applicants seeking a license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to offer services in Hong Kong. According to the regulatory filing submitted on Jan. 31, Bybit wants to offer services in the region through Spark Fintech Limited.

The timing and approval status of Bybit’s application by the SFC remains unclear, as other crypto businesses, including OKX, are still awaiting regulatory approval. Thus far, only two companies, OSL Exchange and HashKey Exchange, have received a crypto trading license from the SFC. As of press time, Bybit has not issued any public statements regarding the application.

Bybit expressed interest in expanding services in Hong Kong in April 2023, when the Dubai-based crypto exchange outlined plans to establish its central Asian business there. As reported, Bybit plans to allocate a segment of its marketing, research, and development team to Hong Kong.

Bybit CEO Ben Zhou highlighted the significance of liquidity in the exchange sector, emphasizing that Hong Kong boasts ample liquidity due to institutional capital inflows. Zhou commended the city for its well-developed capital markets, high levels of financial literacy, and a substantial number of informed investors.

However, not everyone in the crypto market aligns with Hong Kong’s regulatory approach. Wang Yang, vice president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, criticized the city’s cryptocurrency regulation, describing the existing licensing system as burdensome and counterproductive. Yang coined the term “Licensed to Be Killed” to characterize the challenges faced by licensed exchanges like OSL, which have incurred significant losses after obtaining the approval to offer services in the region.

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