Hong Kong regulator issues warning against crypto firms parading as ‘banks’

Crypto firms are also not allowed to describe products as “deposits”


StrippedPixel.com/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued a warning against crypto firms using the word “bank.”

On Friday, the HKMA warned that certain crypto firms are inappropriately using the term “bank” to describe their service offerings. The regulator said that by presenting themselves as banks without the necessary authorization, these firms are misleading the public into thinking they are regulated by the HKMA, which is not accurate.

“Under the Banking Ordinance, only licensed banks, restricted license banks and deposit-taking companies, which have been granted a license by the HKMA can carry out banking or deposit-taking business in Hong Kong,” the regulator said.

Additionally, crypto firms cannot describe their services as being akin to banking services or say that customers can open “banking accounts” or describe their products as “deposits.”

The warning comes after the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) called out a virtual asset trading platform (VATP) called JPEX for appearing to have “arrangements involving virtual assets such as virtual asset ‘deposits,’ ‘savings’ or ‘earnings’ which are not allowed under the SFC’s regulatory regime for VATPs.”

Additionally, the SFC called JPEX out for promoting itself as a licensed entity when it has not applied for or been formerly licensed as a VATP. 

In August, the SFC issued a warning focused on unlicensed crypto platforms engaging in “improper practices.”

VATPs claiming that they applied for licenses “may not be in compliance with the legal and regulatory requirements under the new regime,” the SFC warned.

Similar to calling a firm a bank when it is not authorized to do so, it is a crime for crypto platforms to market themselves as licensed when it’s not.

Hong Kong opened the doors for crypto companies earlier this year as it took multiple steps to be more crypto-friendly, including launching a CBDC trial.

Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.


Upcoming Events

Hilton Metropole | 225 Edgware Rd, London

Mon - Wed, March 18 - 20, 2024

Crypto’s premier institutional conference returns to London in March 2024. The DAS: London Experience: Attend expert-led panel discussions and fireside chats Hear the latest developments regarding the crypto and digital asset regulatory environment directly from policymakers and experts.

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research report - cover graphics (1).jpg


In this report, we dive into crypto private market data to gather insights on where the future of the industry is headed. Despite a notable downturn in private raises, capital continues to infuse promising projects that aim to transform payments, banking, consumer experiences, community, and more, with 2023 being the fourth-largest year for crypto venture capital.


BUZZ holds shares of Coinbase, Robinhood and MicroStrategy


Opinion: Even though I didn’t pay for my “Diamond Hands” burger with BTC, don’t let that fool you into thinking that crypto’s development is futile


The results mark “a major positive inflection point,” one analyst says, as the exchange carries net income momentum into a crypto rally


While the slate of 10 US spot bitcoin funds have tallied $4.6 billion of net inflows thus far, half of the field is lagging the leaders


Trading volumes totalled $154 billion in Q4, including $125 billion in institutional volume


DeFi on Bitcoin is all the rage right now and Stacks is positioned to benefit