Hong Kong authorities have said that while they won’t ban the trading of cryptocurrencies, they will educate people on the risks involved instead.
According to the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the public education campaign will highlight that the crypto market is not regulated, is subjected to hacking, and fluctuates in price, reports the South China Morning Post. The campaign is being run together with the Investor Education Centre, a subsidiary of the Securities and Futures Commission.
It’s expected to be rolled out from March via print, digital, and broadcast media in addition to the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations, a major public transport network serving Hong Kong.
Joseph Chan Ho-lim, the Treasury’s undersecretary, said that investors in Hong Kong may not know about the risks surrounding cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Julia Leung Fung-yee, executive director of the intermediaries division of the commission, explained by saying:
When we asked some young people why they bought cryptocurrencies, many of them cared less about the projects mentioned in the [ICOs’] White Paper … they just wanted to make quick money by speculating on the cryptocurrency exchange.
Interestingly, while the volatility of the digital currency market remains a concern to policymakers in Hong Kong, that doesn’t mean they’re about to tell investors what they should and shouldn’t invest in.
These comments come at a time when the cryptocurrency market is experiencing heightened attention from traders and authorities concerned about rising prices. At the end of 2017 bitcoin saw its value soar by nearly 2,000 percent before losing half its price at the start of 2018. Speculation that the sector is in a bubble remains; however, this doesn’t appear to have dampened interest in it. Raising funds through ICOs has also increased, which saw crowdsourced fundraising bringing in between $4 billion and $7 billion.
However, unlike Chinese and South Korean authorities, which are cracking down on cryptocurrencies and trading platforms, Hong Kong’s government has indicated that it doesn’t plan to follow suit anytime soon.
One of the measures that authorities have implemented to protect consumers is that ICO issuers are required to follow existing laws and regulations if the coin they are offering falls within the remit of a security or investment.
Yet, according to Leo Weese, chairman of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association, this is a topic that needs to be talked about.
“We should know the difference between what makes a good ICO [and what doesn’t] and how we differentiate between scams and legitimate projects.”
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