Hong Kong regulators plan to tokenise securities even as they fight crypto crime wave

Hong Kong regulators plan to tokenise securities even as they fight crypto crime wave
Hong Kong is keen on restoring the city’s financial hub status through tokenisation.
Asia Dispatch
  • Hong Kong leaders are trying to balance crypto support with battling scams.
  • China established a metaverse working group.
  • A crypto-themed thriller hits Hong Kong cinemas.

In its latest effort to stoke Hong Kong as a crypto hub, the city’s top financial regulator plans to tokenise more government bonds from 2024 to 2026.

The city’s Securities and Futures Commission made the announcement as part of its three-year strategic plan released on Tuesday.

Hong Kong has been at the forefront of governments tokenising securities. Last year, the city issued tokenised green bonds, which are designed to finance projects that minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan also includes measures to foster a responsible and secure fintech ecosystem with blockchain and web3 technologies.

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Hong Kong all in on web3

The city has embraced web3 technology as a way to restore its reputation as a financial hub. Hong Kong has taken a hit in recent years internationally due to political pressure from China and, until earlier this year, strict Covid-19 requirements.

Hong Kong’s stock market, home to some of China’s corporate titans, has lost $6 trillion in value since its peak in 2021, according to Bloomberg data.

The city is also contending with the rise of India and its booming economy as a “money centre”, leaving Hong Kong in the dust and possibly in a bit of an existential crisis.

This week, India’s stock market capitalisation overtook Hong Kong’s for the first time, with shares listed on Indian exchanges totalling a combined value of $4.33 trillion on Monday versus $4.29 trillion in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg News.

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Even as the SFC tries to stimulate crypto action it’s also struggling to protect investors from scams.

Lawmakers and investors have criticised the SFC for failing to do enough to shut down, or even identify, the actors behind suspicious crypto exchanges such as JPEX.

Investment scams

It has pledged to improve public awareness of crypto and investment scams. Ads warning people to use regulated virtual asset platforms have since appeared on buses around the city.

“The Commission [will] be on a stronger footing to keep investors out of harm’s way and bring wrongdoers to justice when financial crimes nowadays come in any shape and form, as well as to bring the full range of resources and tools at its disposal to achieve positive regulatory outcomes,” said SFC Chief Executive Officer Julia Leung in a statement.

Not to be left out of the limelight, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is also seeking public opinion on a proposal to let banks share customer account information to prevent and detect financial crime.

Its chief executive, Eddie Yue, recently found himself joining the roster of public officials and politicians in Asia who’ve become subject of deepfakes in which they promote investment scams, including encouraging people to invest in crypto.


China wants to standardise the metaverse

China has announced the members of its Metaverse Working Group, which it’s set up with the aim of standardising metaverse projects in the country.

The lineup includes the usual suspects such as Huawei, Tencent, Baidu and Ant Group. It will also feature government agencies and academia.

Hong Kong’s ‘farcical’ crypto crime thriller

The crypto movie genre has never quite taken off. But that hasn’t stopped people trying. The latest attempt is the movie “Crypto Storm,” released in Hong Kong on Thursday.

This fresh chapter in the “Storm” movie series pits law enforcement heroes against a bank on the brink that tries to turn its fortunes around by dabbling in crypto exchanges.

The South China Morning Post dubbed it “the most farcical crime thriller series Hong Kong cinema has produced in the past 10 years”.

Got an Asia crypto story? Get in touch with DL News’ Asia Correspondent at callan@dlnews.com.

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