Providing services to individual investors under new regulations
ZA Bank, Hong Kong’s largest virtual bank, announced on the 24th that it plans to offer crypto asset (virtual currency) trading services for individual investors in Hong Kong.
ZA Bank plans to partner with local authorities-licensed cryptocurrency exchanges to allow retail investors to use ZA Bank’s app to trade cryptocurrencies with fiat currency. It is currently in the process of obtaining the necessary approvals from regulatory authorities.
ZA Bank CEO Ronald lu explained:
We welcome the licensing guidelines issued by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). We are also pleased to be able to provide users with new investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies.
We believe that cryptocurrencies have the potential to become an important asset class in the future.
ZA Bank has taken a strategy to expand the financial services it offers, and in addition to cryptocurrency trading, it plans to introduce trading services for US stocks in the future.
ZA Bank is a subsidiary of China-based insurance services company ZA Group. Service started in March 2020. It grew to have 300,000 users in just one year. Assets under custody in 2022 amounted to approximately ¥44.1 billion (HK$2.48 billion), ranking first among Hong Kong virtual banks.
What is a virtual bank?
A “virtual bank” is basically an Internet-only bank that does not have physical stores and basically conducts everything from acquiring customers to providing banking services online. In May 2019, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issued virtual bank licenses to eight companies.
Hong Kong’s New Crypto Regulations
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has just announced on the 23rd that it will implement new regulations for cryptocurrency exchanges from 1 June. ZA Bank’s move will also correspond to this.
The new regulations will also allow retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies. At the same time, the company plans to thoroughly protect investors by introducing a licensing system.
Stocks that can be traded by individual investors must have a high market capitalization and be included in at least two indices, and the provision of interest rate and lending services is prohibited.
Stablecoins will not be available for use by individual investors until regulations are in place by 2024.
connection: Hong Kong enforces new rules for virtual currency exchanges from June, stipulating issues that can be listed
Movement of Chinese companies
Hong Kong is currently in the process of improving its regulatory environment with the aim of becoming a cryptocurrency hub, attracting related companies from overseas as well.
For example, Greenland Financial Technology Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenland Holdings, which is 46.4% owned by the Chinese city government of Shanghai, is seeking a license in Hong Kong.
The company plans to offer trading in cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), carbon credits, and more. It seems that it sees an opportunity to do cryptocurrency business in Hong Kong amid the crackdown on cryptocurrencies in mainland China.
connection: Chinese state-owned company Greenland aims to offer cryptocurrency services in Hong Kong