Crypto Platforms Withdraw Applications Amid Hong Kong’s Push to Become Crypto Hub

Hong Kong is witnessing a series of cryptocurrency platforms retreat from the city, despite its efforts to establish itself as a regional crypto hub. The latest to withdraw its application for a virtual-asset trading platform license (VATP) is OKX, following similar moves by Gate.HK and Huobi.

Last week, OKX announced it would be pulling its application for a digital asset license. “After careful consideration of our business strategy, we’ve decided to withdraw OKX HK’s VASP license application at this time,” the exchange stated. OKX, the second-largest crypto exchange by volume, will cease providing centralized virtual asset trading in Hong Kong by May 31. Users will be able to withdraw their funds after this date.

Similarly, Gate.HK, the Hong Kong arm of, also announced the withdrawal of its VATP application. “We will be undergoing a major overhaul of our current platform, along with potential development of new services and products in the near future,” Gate.HK said. The platform will cease trading on May 28, advising users to withdraw assets by August 28, 2024. However, Gate.HK indicated plans to resume operations in Hong Kong after obtaining the necessary licenses.

Earlier this month, Huobi Hong Kong withdrew its application for a virtual asset trading platform license for the second time in 2024. This move raises questions about Huobi’s commitment to the Hong Kong market, as the first withdrawal occurred in February, just three days after the initial application was submitted.

These withdrawals come at a critical time for Hong Kong’s cryptocurrency industry, with a regulatory deadline looming. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has set an August 2024 deadline for all platforms to secure a VATP license. Those failing to comply will be forced to cease operations in the region.

Currently, 19 applicants remain for Hong Kong’s virtual-asset platform license, including, Bybit, and Bullish. Hashkey Exchange and OSL Exchange have been approved to serve retail investors.