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OKX, Gate.io, and HTX withdraw VASP license application in Hong Kong

After OKX, the Hong Kong branches of Gate.io and HTX have withdrawn their applications for Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) licenses.
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On May 24, 2024, crypto exchange OKX announced its decision to withdraw its VASP license application in Hong Kong and cease offering crypto trading services to residents by May 31. OKX cited “careful consideration” of its business strategy as the reason, without providing further details.

OKX assured users that their assets remain secure. Any deposits made after this date will not be automatically credited, and open orders will be canceled. The exchange reminded customers that its self-custody OKX Web3 wallet, separate from centralized trading services, will remain accessible to local users.

Starting June 1, 2024, withdrawal functionality will be the only available option for Hong Kong residents until August 31, after which any remaining balances will be treated as “unclaimed assets” per platform terms.

Notably, Huobi HK of HTX and Gate.HK, the Hong Kong branch of Gate.io, has also withdrawn its license applications and will cease operations on May 1. Another exchange, HKVAEX, rumored to be owned by Binance, will also close.

These exchanges have not specified reasons for their withdrawal. However, according to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), digital asset trading platforms that did not apply for a license by February 29, 2024, must shut down operations by May 31, 2024. The SFC has recently tightened scrutiny on crypto exchanges, issuing warnings to major platforms like Bybit and MEXC for unauthorized operations in March.

Currently, only two exchanges, HashKey and OSL, have been licensed to offer crypto trading to retail investors in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions, aiming to attract investment through this emerging sector. It is the second country after the United States to approve a series of spot Bitcoin ETFs. However, since trading began on April 30, 2024, the ETF market in Hong Kong has seen “very modest” volumes compared to the US.

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