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Hong Kong regulators approve launch of spot bitcoin and ether ETFs

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Hong Kong regulators on Monday approved the launch of spot bitcoin and ether exchange-traded funds (ETFs), asset managers said, following U.S. moves this year to bring these products to market.

Bitcoin was trading around 3% higher at 7:11 a.m. ET after a rough sell-off over the weekend.

Three ETF providers have been approved by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

ChinaAMC said that it had received regulatory approval for the provision of “virtual asset management services” and it is “actively deploying resources in the development” of a spot bitcoin and ether ETF. OSL Digital Securities will be a custodian for ChinaAMC.

Harvest Global and Bosera International have also received SFC approval for bitcoin and ether ETFs, according to the companies.

The Hong Kong SFC was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

While these asset managers have received the green light for the ETFs, they have not yet launched them.

Crypto trading is effectively banned in mainland China after a massive crackdown on the sector in 2021.

However, Hong Kong has slowly been trying to make itself a regulated crypto hub to compete with places like Dubai and Singapore. It’s unclear whether mainland Chinese investors will be allowed to invest in cryptocurrencies via the ETFs.

Hong Kong’s moves come after U.S. securities regulators approved the trade of spot bitcoin ETFs, which have seen billions of dollars of inflows.

A bitcoin ETF allows an investor to be exposed to the price movement of the asset without having to own the underlying cryptocurrency. Many commentators have said ETFs will allow more traditional investors to enter the crypto market.

Hong Kong would be one of the first places in the world to approve an ether ETF. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet approved such a product and asset managers told CNBC last week they do not expect the regulator to do so.

– CNBC’s Yolande Chee contributed to this report.

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