Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin expressed reservations about Hong Kong’s recent warming towards crypto. He voiced his concerns at the Web3 Transitions Summit in Singapore on Thursday.
As Hong Kong boldly positions itself as a potential crypto hub by adopting a new regulatory framework, skepticism grows among top industry leaders.
Buterin Doubts Hong Kong’s Crypto Stance
Recently, Hong Kong issued the inaugural licenses for retail crypto trading to HashKey Exchange and OSL. These endorsements followed after the city’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) began licensing applications in June.
However, given China’s stringent stance on crypto and the tumultuous political events in 2019 in Hong Kong, the durability of this newfound openness is a matter of debate. Notably, Beijing’s response in 2020 was to amplify its dominance in Hong Kong through a comprehensive national security law.
For this reason, Vitalik Buterin cautioned crypto firms considering Hong Kong as a base, expressing uncertainty about its sustained amicability.
“I don’t understand Hong Kong well. I understand even less the complicated interaction between Hong Kong and the mainland lately. Obviously, it’s very friendly now. But the big question that I’m asking and that I think anyone is asking is: how stable is the level of friendliness?”
Buterin remarked the primary factor, in his view, is ensuring stability in Hong Kong’s approach. The city could be well-placed if it can assure individuals of this consistent friendliness. Yet, “that is where I feel the challenge lies,” Buterin added.
Read more: China’s Rulers Give Mixed Signals on Crypto’s Legal Status
The opaqueness of China’s government complicates predictions. Still, some hope a successful Hong Kong pilot might sway Beijing towards a more liberal crypto approach, granting access to its vast populace.
China’s Ban on Crypto Could Be Questioned
On the same day as Buterin’s remarks, the SFC reprimanded a renegade cryptocurrency exchange, JPEX, flagging its “dubious features” and false licensing claims. This serves as a reminder that increased openness does not compromise on rigorous regulation.
Jake Boaz, founder of Crypto Yield Capital, shared Buterin’s cautious stance, suggesting crypto entities in Hong Kong should closely monitor Beijing’s sway over the region.
“The overarching crackdown on crypto in mainland China casts a shadow of uncertainty. Given this backdrop, it’s imperative for crypto firms in Hong Kong to establish contingency plans,” Boaz told BeInCrypto.
Despite China’s ban on crypto trading and mining, stemming from its concerns about financial stability, there are indicators of its limited success.
Read more: Brace for Impact: The Market Could Explode If China Lifts Its Crypto Ban
A report in August suggested that China remains Binance’s primary market despite the official ban. The exchange continues its operations with around 900,000 active users in China, collaborating with local authorities.
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