Bankman-Fried Says FTX No Longer Calls Hong Kong ‘Home’. Here’s Why

The digital assets industry in Hong Kong is faced with an increasingly hostile regulator, and strict quarantine laws make the City uncompetitive for international business.


Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO, FTX


key takeaways

  • FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried confirmed that FTX’s headquarters is now in Nassau, Bahamas
  • FTX is the first high-profile business to quit Hong Kong over quarantine rules  

FTX no longer calls Hong Kong home.

The digital assets derivatives exchange has packed up and is now headquartered in Nassau, The Bahamas, citing friendlier regulation and no mandatory quarantine upon arrival in-country.

In an email to Blockworks, FTX CEO and Founder Sam Bankman-Fried said, “the proactive stance taken by The Bahamas and its regulatory bodies on cryptocurrencies” is one of the primary reasons FTX is moving to the island. 

“FTX is regulated by the Securities Commission of The Bahamas under the DARE Act of 2020, one of the world’s few comprehensive regulations for crypto exchanges,” he said.

Earlier this week, Blockworks reported that the exchange announced that Ryan Salame was the new CEO of FTX Digital Markets and would be responsible for leading their local initiatives in The Bahamas. In addition, FTX Digital Markets would be expanding its presence in the country to support transferred and local employees.

In contrast to The Bahamas, Hong Kong is taking a hostile approach to digital assets. Experts that Blockworks has previously spoken to have said that unclear regulations around custody and restrictions barring non accredited investors from accessing the local crypto market have cast a shadow on the industry in the City. 

“What I can say is there are no clear regulations in Hong Kong for digital assets,” Alessio Quaglini, CEO of Hex Trust, told Blockworks in a prior interview. “What we have to live with is basically the regulation for custody of traditional assets.”

Vincent Chok, CEO of First Digital Trust, a registered public trust company headquartered in Hong Kong, also agrees with Quaglini’s sentiment, saying that there are too many inconsistencies with how Hong Kong’s different regulatory bodies treat crypto.

“Banking still treats crypto as something that they really don’t want to touch in Hong Kong over money laundering concerns,” Chok said, arguing that “there’s a definite bias going on.”

FTX first high-profile business to quit Hong Kong over quarantine rules  

Currently Hong Kong makes those arriving in the territory from the United States, the UK, and most of Europe quarantine for 21 days regardless of vaccination status.

Bankman-Fried has previously complained on Twitter that despite being fully vaccinated, he was delayed in June returning to Hong Kong because his Covid test result omitted his middle name (despite having the correct passport number). 

Bankman-Fried isn’t alone in complaining about Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime. In August, the European Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam that said the strict quarantine rules in place were threatening Hong Kong’s competitiveness and many of its members were considering an exodus from the city.

FTX’s exchange token seems to be reacting to news of the company’s move from Hong Kong positively, climbing 6.6% in the last 24 hours to $60.53 according to CoinGecko.

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