Bybit in Hot Water: Hong Kong SFC Issues Unlicensed Operation Warning

Hong Kong’s SFC Issues Warning Against Unlicensed Virtual Asset Trading Platform Bybit

Hong Kong’s SFC Issues Warning Against Unlicensed Virtual Asset Trading Platform Bybit

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong has today issued a stark warning to the public concerning an unlicensed virtual asset trading platform (VATP) known as Bybit. The SFC has advised potential investors to exercise caution when dealing with the platform, which is not licensed or registered in Hong Kong to conduct any regulated activities related to virtual assets.

It is worth noting that on February 1, 2024, Bybit submitted an application for a Virtual Asset Trading Operator license to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

Bybit, operated by Bybit Fintech Limited, a Seychelles-registered company, has been offering a suite of crypto-related products across various jurisdictions. These include futures contracts, options, leveraged tokens, and several investment products purportedly linked to the crypto market. The SFC has emphasized that none of the entities within the Bybit group holds a license to offer these services in Hong Kong.

Engaging in the trading or marketing of crypto-related products that may be deemed “futures contracts” or “securities” under Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) without proper authorization is a criminal offense. Moreover, issuing advertisements or invitations related to such products to the Hong Kong public without the SFC’s authorization is also illegal.

The SFC has taken the step of listing Bybit on both the Suspicious Virtual Asset Trading Platforms Alert List and the Suspicious Investment Products Alert List, which were made public on March 14, 2024. This move underscores the regulatory body’s commitment to safeguarding the integrity of Hong Kong’s financial markets and protecting investors from potentially fraudulent or unregulated entities.

In an era where virtual assets are becoming increasingly mainstream, the SFC’s warning is a timely reminder of the inherent risks associated with unregulated platforms. Investors are urged to verify the licensing status of any platform offering investment opportunities in virtual assets. The warning highlights the potential difficulties in seeking recourse against unlicensed entities, especially those without a strong connection to Hong Kong, and warns that investors may face the total loss of their investments without the possibility of legal remedies.

The SFC’s action reflects a broader trend of regulatory bodies globally taking steps to protect investors in the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency market. It is part of a concerted effort to ensure that platforms comply with local regulations, which are designed to provide transparency, security, and fairness for investors.

The SFC has made it clear that it will not hesitate to take enforcement action against unlicensed activities. This serves as a warning not only to Bybit but to all virtual asset trading platforms operating without the necessary licenses in jurisdictions where such regulations are in place.

In conclusion, the SFC’s announcement is a critical reminder that diligence is key when navigating the complex world of virtual asset investments. Investors are encouraged to consult with the SFC’s resources, including its FAQs and alert lists, to ensure they are making informed decisions in the virtual asset space.

Image source: Shutterstock

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