Interactive Brokers Launches Crypto Trading Services in Hong Kong

Interactive Brokers will offer virtual asset services to professional investors in Hong Kong through crypto exchange OSL


Hong Kong; Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • Licensed crypto exchanges in Hong Kong are allowed to service professionals only
  • Virtual assets are complex products that are likely not understood by retail investors, regulator says

A partnership between two digital asset brokerages enables a new route for professional investors in Hong Kong to dabble in cryptoassets.

OSL, a Securities and Futures Commission (SFC)-regulated digital asset platform, has agreed to provide Interactive Brokers a platform to offer virtual asset services to its professional clients, according to an announcement on Thursday. 

In late 2020, OSL became the first firm to receive permission from Hong Kong’s regulatory authority to provide a digital asset trading platform for institutions. It managed to get licensed after undergoing vetting requirements. Interactive Brokers’ partnership with the exchange highlights its weight in the market.

“Investors worldwide are rallying to digital asset markets, and the collaboration with OSL comes at a key moment in the development of the regulated digital asset ecosystem in Hong Kong,” David Friesland, head of Asia Pacific at Interactive Brokers, said in a statement.

In January this year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said only SFC-licensed financial institutions will be allowed to conduct the business. In a notice, the regulator said virtual assets should be considered complex products that are not likely to be understood by retail investors. And so, they must be restricted to professionals.

“Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest concentrations of institutional and professional investors, as well as a clear regulatory regime around digital assets,” Wayne Trench, OSL’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Hong Kong was a hotbed for some of today’s most well-known blockchain and crypto businesses including, BitMEX and Bitfinex. Popular stablecoin Tether too was launched there in 2014. But strict regulations, including the rule that restricts services to professional investors, led some companies to jump to other markets.

The SFC recently took aim at non-fungible tokens, warning that if investors “cannot fully understand them and bear the potential losses, they should not invest in NFTs.” China’s caveats on cryptocurrencies have also muddled Hong Kong’s role as a hub for fintech innovations. 

Many crypto exchanges have applied to Hong Kong’s licensing agreement, but OSL has been the only successful one so far.


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

Top Icon.png


Osmosis thrived in H2 2023 on the back of increased DeFi activity deriving from recently launched Cosmos-related projects and better market conditions. With new value accrual mechanisms for the native token, Osmosis is well-positioned to continue its strong performance in 2024.



Though the opposing flow trend is likely to slow over time, industry watchers note, bitcoin fund assets could one day eclipse the $90 billion gold ETF space


Celestia had the first mover advantage. EigenDA has staked ether. What sets Avail apart?


Bitcoin moved 1% higher Monday morning in New York, Matrixport analysts say $62,000 could happen next month


It’s hard to believe right now that crypto — even with all of its flexibility and massive capabilities — could ever be like cash on the internet


Michael Saylor announced Monday morning that MicroStrategy bought 3k more bitcoin after the X account was compromised over the weekend


Plus, Pudgy Penguins grows its brand and a group of Autoglyphs sell for $14.5 million