Crypto exchange Bitget pulls out of Hong Kong, stops pursuing licence, months after launching new platform

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Cryptocurrency exchange Bitget said that it will no longer pursue a licence in Hong Kong and will permanently back out of the city, just months after launching a platform to comply with local virtual asset regulations. Bitget’s decision to drop preparations for a virtual asset trading platform (VATP) licence is the result of “business and market-related considerations”, the company said in a statement on Monday. In April, the company launched a new platform specifically for Hong Kong users called BitgetX, which will now cease operations. Once it shuts down on December 13, Bitget will “permanently exit” the market, according to the company. The 5-year-old, Singapore-based firm operates the 12th-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by 24-hour trading volume, according to CoinGecko. High costs cloud Hong Kong’s crypto hub dream Bitget is among several crypto exchanges to publicly announce an intention to get licensed in Hong Kong after the city made a high-profile push last year to embrace the virtual asset sector. The new mandatory licensing regime allows exchanges to serve retail investors in the city. When it launched BitgetX, the company said it was to comply with local rules by keeping the platform separate from its main website. With its announcement on Monday, Bitget urged users to withdraw assets from the Hong Kong platform before it shutters. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reasons behind the sudden exit, or on media reports claiming that it has taken a stake in the licensed Hong Kong crypto exchange OSL. OSL also did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. BC Technology Group, the Hong Kong-listed company that owns OSL, last month refuted a Bloomberg News report that it was exploring the sale of OSL for as much as HK$1 billion (US$137.3 million). In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, it called the report “factually inaccurate and highly misleading”. Bitget’s exit would mark another blow in Hong Kong’s bid to be a leading crypto hub. Courting the industry to the city is already facing several other challenges, including high regulatory compliance costs and damaged public trust in virtual assets following the financial scandal involving the crypto platform JPEX. So far, just five companies have submitted virtual asset license applications to Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission, a list the regulator recently started to publish in response to the JPEX scandal. All five are local companies, and few large international crypto platforms have publicly expressed interest in getting licensed in the city. The new licensing scheme has so far mostly attracted interest from exchanges with ties to Hong Kong and China such as OKX and HTX. Binance, the world’s largest exchange that was founded in Shanghai in 2017, has not made any public comments about getting licensed, but it is behind the local HKVAEX exchange, which is pursuing a license, the Post previously reported.

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