Hong Kong’s Crypto Initiatives Could Revitalise East Asian Crypto Activity, Says Chainalysis

By Anjali Kochhar

Recent strides in the crypto sphere within Hong Kong are poised to breathe new life into cryptocurrency activity across East Asia, potentially countering the effects of China’s prolonged anti-crypto stance, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, East Asia’s slice of the global crypto transaction pie stood at just 8.8%, positioning it as the fifth most active crypto market, as reported by Chainalysis on October 2. However, the firm sees positive signs emerging from Hong Kong, suggesting that recent developments in the city may bolster these figures.

“A potential tailwind for East Asia comes from Hong Kong, where several crypto initiatives and industry-friendly regulations launched over the past year have fostered bubbling optimism,” Chainalysis noted.

Historical data reveals that East Asia’s share of crypto transaction value plummeted from approximately 30% in 2019 to under 10% by the second quarter of 2022, primarily due to China’s series of bans on crypto-related activities.

Despite its smaller population, Hong Kong stands out as an “extremely active crypto market” based on raw transaction volume. In the period from July 2022 to June 2023, the market received an estimated $64 billion in crypto, compared to $86.4 billion in China, despite having only 0.5% of the mainland’s population.

Merton Lam, from Crypto HK—an over-the-counter digital asset trading centre in Hong Kong—remarked that cryptocurrencies are increasingly becoming a staple in the investment portfolios of numerous banks, private equity firms, and high-net-worth individuals in the region.

Even Chinese state-owned businesses have recently ventured into cryptocurrency-focused investment funds.

However, while acknowledging that digital assets are firmly established in East Asia, Dave Chapman of digital asset platform OSL Digital Securities cautioned that it’s too early to conclude whether Hong Kong’s crypto ambitions reflect a complete embrace of the cryptocurrency space by China.

He noted, “The promotion of Hong Kong as a potential crypto hub is not necessarily indicative of the Chinese government’s stance on crypto… This could be viewed as an exploratory approach to understanding digital assets without loosening mainland policies.”

Markus Thielen, Head of Research and Strategy at Matrixport, stated that Hong Kong is positioned to serve as a “testing ground” for broader cryptocurrency adoption in China. Thielen emphasized a notable area where Hong Kong leads, explaining, “Crucially, there is a genuine interest to attract the crypto asset management industry which has so far been a missing piece of the puzzle as most crypto firms tend to be labeled as service providers, instead of being the end-user of crypto.”

As Hong Kong positions itself at the forefront of crypto evolution, industry experts anticipate a potential resurgence in East Asian crypto activity, fuelled by the city’s dynamic initiatives and progressive regulations.

About the author

Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.

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