The launch of Hong Kong’s inaugural spot crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is expected to occur by bitcoin mid-2024, according to one of Hong Kong’s leading crypto executives.Gary Tiu, the executive director and head of regulatory affairs at OSL, a licensed cryptocurrency exchange based in Hong Kong, made that assertion in discussion with The Hong Kong Economic Journal. Tiu provided the publication with insights into the accelerating pace of negotiations between cryptocurrency exchanges and fund companies in the region.Up to ten firms contemplating ETF launchOSL is actively engaged in discussions with multiple fund companies, with five to ten firms contemplating the introduction of spot crypto ETFs. Tiu revealed that certain firms have made notable progress, raising the possibility of the debut of these ETFs in Hong Kong by the middle of the year.Additionally, the OSL executive emphasized the significance of maintaining reasonable fees in collaborations between OSL and fund companies, given the limited presence of licensed crypto exchanges in the city — a total of two at present.This suggestion from Tiu aligns with similar recent soundings emanating from HashKey, another licensed crypto exchange in Hong Kong, which recently disclosed its ongoing discussions with asset managers exploring the potential launch of spot crypto ETFs. Livio Weng, the CEO of HashKey, indicated that approximately ten fund companies are considering the introduction of such ETFs in the city.VSFG’s ETF plansAligned with Tiu’s thoughts on the matter, according to a Bloomberg report last week, Venture Smart Financial Holdings Ltd (VSFG), a Hong Kong-based financial services firm, expressed plans to potentially launch a spot bitcoin ETF within the first quarter of this year. Bloomberg reported the company’s goal of growing the ETF’s assets under management to $500 million by the end of 2024.The regulatory landscape in Hong Kong is actively adapting to accommodate spot crypto ETFs, with the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announcing in December that they have reviewed their existing policies. Two circulars were published, outlining the requirements for spot crypto ETFs, with the SFC stressing that transactions should be conducted through SFC-licensed crypto platforms or authorized financial institutions.Currently, Hong Kong has listed several futures-based crypto ETFs, including the Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF, CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF and CSOP Ether Futures ETF.Hong Kong venue for Bitcoin conferenceIn a related development, local lawmaker Johnny Ng revealed on social media on Monday that Hong Kong will host The Bitcoin Conference this year. Earlier this month Ng urged the local administration in Hong Kong to swiftly follow the United States’ approval of spot bitcoin ETFs and position the city as a leading hub in the cryptocurrency space.With Hong Kong and Singapore vying for hub status in the Asian region relative to the digital assets space, the launch of ETF products would give the Chinese autonomous territory a competitive head start given that Singapore doesn’t appear to be close to accommodating crypto ETFs for the time being.

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