ZA Bank, headquartered in Hong Kong, has announced its intention to introduce retail virtual asset trading services in the region. The bank unveiled this plan on May 24, just a day after the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) revealed that it would commence accepting applications for licenses for retail virtual asset trading platforms.
According to a statement, ZA Bank will collaborate with locally licensed virtual asset exchanges to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals. Once these approvals are secured, the bank’s customers will be able to trade virtual assets using fiat currency through the ZA Bank App.
This move into virtual asset trading aligns with ZA Bank’s broader strategy, which includes future plans for trading in United States stocks.
In conjunction with the application process, the SFC has implemented new guidelines encompassing asset custody safety requirements, cybersecurity standards, and the segregation of client assets, among other aspects. These guidelines will become effective in June. It is worth noting that most virtual asset trading platforms accessible to the public in Hong Kong are currently unregulated by the SFC.
The announcement of the new licensing procedure has garnered significant attention, receiving 152 comments during the consultation period. Additionally, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Greenland company has also applied for a virtual asset trading license in Hong Kong.
ZA Bank, the largest digital bank in Hong Kong and controlled by Chinese internet insurer ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, expressed its commitment to supporting the government’s vision of fostering a vibrant sector and ecosystem for virtual assets with this new endeavor.
Hong Kong’s progress in the virtual asset space is further exemplified by initiatives like the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s digital Hong Kong dollar pilot project, in which ZA Bank is an active participant. Moreover, the emergence of tech accelerators and incubators in the region underscores Hong Kong’s growing prominence in the virtual asset ecosystem.
As previously reported in April, ZA Bank was preparing to act as a settlement bank for token withdrawals from licensed exchanges, facilitating transactions in Hong Kong dollars, Chinese yuan, and U.S. dollars.