Hong Kong regulators issue warning against Bybit exchange

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Hong Kong's Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) has placed cryptocurrency exchange Bybit on its warning list as of March 14. "The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today warns the public of an unlicensed virtual asset trading platform (VATP) known as Bybit," the regulator wrote, "which offers trading services in crypto-related products in a number of jurisdictions."

Included in its warning list are 11 products offered by the Bybit exchange, such as Bybit Futures, Bybit Options, Bybit Leveraged Tokens, Dual Assets, Bybit Lending, Bybit Wealth Management, and others. "The SFC is concerned that these products have also been offered to Hong Kong investors and wishes to make it clear that no entity in the Bybit group is licensed by or registered with the SFC to conduct any "regulated activity" in Hong Kong," said the regulator.

Currently, crypto-related products may constitute futures contracts or securities and require prior licensing with the SFC before they can be offered to Hong Kong residents. The March 14 warning refers to Bybit.com and its Seychelles-registered owner Bybit Fintech Limited, which is different than the https://www.bybit.com.hk, a similar domain owned by Spark Fintech Limited that does not currently provide crypto services in Hong Kong.

On Feb. 1, Cointelegraph reported that Bybit is currently seeking a virtual asset trading operator license (VATP) in Hong Kong through its Spark Fintech Limited subsidiary. Only two crypto exchanges in Hong Kong are licensed by the SFC, including the OSL exchange, which received a license on Dec. 15, 2020, and HashKey Exchange, which was licensed on Nov. 9, 2022.

The deadline for crypto exchanges operating in Hong Kong to file for a VATP application lapsed on Feb. 29. Unlicensed firms must cease operations in the Special Administrative Region by May 31. Likewise, exchanges whose VATP applications are rejected by the SFC must also leave the city within three months. 

Related: Hong Kong begins phase 2 of CBDC pilot

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