In a groundbreaking move set to reshape Hong Kong’s financial landscape, Harvest Fund Hong Kong has boldly stepped into the crypto sector by submitting an application for a Bitcoin spot Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). This historic development, exclusively unveiled by Chinese media Tencent News, signifies a notable shift in the region’s approach to digital asset trading and investment.
This pivotal moment comes hot on the heels of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) milestone approval of the first batch of US Bitcoin spot ETFs on January 11, 2024. Among these approvals was the conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust’s GBTC into a Bitcoin spot ETF, alongside applications from major financial players like BlackRock and Fidelity, heralding a new era in crypto investment.
Following these seismic shifts, the Hong Kong SFC is reportedly contemplating expediting the approval process for the region’s first Bitcoin spot ETF, with plans to list it on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as early as February 10, shortly after the Chinese New Year celebrations. Speculations abound that the SFC may adopt a strategy akin to the US SEC, greenlighting multiple spot ETF applications simultaneously, although Harvest Fund currently stands as the sole applicant.
Industry insiders anticipate a parallel between the US and Hong Kong markets, with the dominance of large institutions like BlackRock and Fidelity expected to mirror their influence in the West. The allure of spot ETFs is undeniable, with BlackRock’s IBIT ranking among the top three ETFs issued in the US over the past year, underscoring investor enthusiasm for this innovative investment avenue.
Rumors swirl regarding operational differences between US and Hong Kong spot ETFs. Sources suggest that Hong Kong spot ETFs may offer Bitcoin redemptions “in kind,” a feature yet to be seen in their US counterparts. However, the SFC has yet to confirm these speculations, leaving the market eager for further clarity.
In a testament to Hong Kong’s burgeoning acceptance of digital assets, approximately ten Chinese asset management firms are poised to launch spot Bitcoin and crypto ETFs in the region, underscoring a broader trend towards regulatory acceptance and integration. Livio Weng, COO of HashKey Group, reveals that seven to eight of these companies are in advanced stages of product development, signaling a significant influx of crypto investment opportunities.
The Hong Kong SFC is reportedly considering expediting the approval process for the first Bitcoin spot ETF in the region. There are plans to list it on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange shortly after the Chinese New Year, possibly by February 10. According to Tencent News, the SFC might adopt a strategy similar to the US SEC by approving multiple spot ETF applications simultaneously, although Harvest Fund currently stands as the sole applicant.
Industry insiders speculate that the dominance of large institutions in the US market, such as BlackRock and Fidelity Funds, may be mirrored in Hong Kong. These institutions have significant investor bases and extensive customer acquisition networks, highlighting the growing investor interest in spot ETFs over other types.
This initiative dovetails with the evolving regulatory stance of the SFC and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), who, in December 2023, signaled their openness to applications for virtual asset spot ETFs, departing from their previous “professional-investors only” policy established in 2018. This regulatory pivot positions Hong Kong as a potential hub for Bitcoin and crypto investment and innovation, fostering an environment ripe for financial evolution.
As Hong Kong embraces the dawn of a new era in digital asset investment, eyes turn eagerly towards the SFC’s forthcoming decisions, poised to shape the region’s financial landscape for years to come.
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