Julia Leung is the first female CEO of Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Leung took office in January 2023, and her term coincides with Hong Kong's fresh attempts to establish itself as a major digital assets hub.
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Leung, a former journalist at The Asian Wall Street Journal, may seem to have an unusual background for a regulator. But, in addition to being a former journalist, she has more than 25 years in public service and extensive experience in financial regulation, market development and international cooperation. She served at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for 14 years, spending the last eight years as the executive director responsible for financial cooperation with Mainland China and international regulators.
Leung and her colleagues have made a concerted push to put Hong Kong on the map of crypto hotspots. "Cryptocurrency platforms are part of the whole Web3 ecosystem and we are very supportive of the development of the whole Internet ecosystem," she said at the 2023 Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.
In February, the Hong Kong securities watchdog published proposed rules for virtual asset trading platforms and collected public comments. In June, right after Beijing released its Web3 white paper, Hong Kong's new licensing regime for virtual assets service providers took effect and the SFC began accepting license applications for crypto exchanges.
Several months later, the SFC decided to disclose all crypto license applicants after an unlicensed crypto platform JPEX scandal. By December, three firms, including OSL Digital Securities, HashKey Exchange and Investment Firm Victory Securities, had been awarded retail trading licenses.
In November, Hong Kong reversed its stance on spot-crypto ETF investing, allowing intermediaries to offer services to a wider range of clients in November. The city also recently allowed some tokenized securities issuance and trading (referring to where tokens represent underlying investment assets).
Leung has a key role in orchestrating crypto activity in an important financial center. We're likely to hear a lot more from her regarding crypto in 2024.
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