Huobi crypto exchange aims to expand to Hong Kong amid regulatory changes

Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Global is seeking a license in Hong Kong as the Chinese special administrative region considers new licensing and regulatory moves that would allow it to serve retail customers.

The new framework, which requires crypto exchanges to register with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), would allow the exchange to expand its services to the city. Huobi also plans to open a new exchange named Huobi Hong Kong that would concentrate on institutional and high-net-worth individuals, according to a Twitter thread by Justin Sun.

The SFC recently opened the new Hong Kong licensing proposals for public comment, with the new regime to go into effect in June. News of the expected changes led to financial services providers lining up to take part in the new, expanded system in December.

Sun said in an interview with Nikkei Asia that Huobi might increase its staff in Hong Kong from 50 to 200 this year. He said Hong Kong’s friendlier stance on crypto and the possibility of retail sales motivated the expansion.

Related: Huobi delists 33 tokens in one day, citing trading risk, low volume

Huobi announced a layoff of 20% of its staff in January, characterizing it as part of the company’s restructuring after Sun’s takeover in October. The exchange announced in February that it was closing down its Huobi Cloud Wallet in May due to “strategic and product adjustments.“

According to Nikkei Asia, Huobi is also considering moving its headquarters to Hong Kong from Singapore.

Huobi is expanding services in other regions as well. It announced in January that it is launching a Visa-backed crypto-to-fiat debit card that Huobi customers residing in the European Economic Area will be able to use worldwide. That card is expected to be available in the second quarter of this year.

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