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Hong Kong-based bank plans to expand services to sell virtual assets

Hong Kong-based ZA Bank plans to offer retail virtual asset trading in the administrative region. The bank announced its plan on May 24, a day after the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced it would begin accepting license applications for a retail virtual asset trading platform.

The bank will work with locally licensed virtual asset exchanges to obtain regulatory approvals, according to the statement. The bank's customers will be able to "trade virtual assets using fiat currency on the ZA Bank app" once these approvals are obtained.

Trading in virtual assets is part of the bank's larger strategy, which in the future will also include trading in U.S. stocks, the bank stated.

The SFC announced the opening of the application process with the implementation of new guidelines on security requirements for asset custody, cyber-security standards and segregation of customer assets, among other things. The guidelines will go into effect in June. Most virtual asset trading platforms available to the public in Hong Kong are not currently regulated by the SFC.

The announcement of the new licensing procedure was met with considerable interest, with 152 comments submitted during the consultation period. A subsidiary of China's state-owned Greenland company has also applied for a license to trade virtual assets in Hong Kong.