JAN 20, 2024
Hong Kong financial services platform plans spot Bitcoin ETF launch for Q1
Venture Smart Financial Holdings Ltd. (VSFG), a Hong Kong-based financial services company, is gearing up to initiate an exchange-traded fund (ETF) directly investing in bitcoin in the first quarter of this year.
That’s according to a report by Bloomberg on Friday. The move aligns with Hong Kong’s strategic efforts to establish itself as a digital asset hub, and with that, the company plans to submit an application to the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for ETF approval.
Brian Chan, the group head of investment and product at VSFG, expressed optimism about the potential of this market, setting a goal of achieving $500 million in assets under management by the end of the year.
While the firm has taken the decision to focus on spot crypto ETFs amid a backdrop of spot bitcoin ETF approval in the United States earlier this month, it’s an objective the firm has been working on for some time. In June of last year, crypto media reported that VSFG were planning the launch of such a product.
Notwithstanding that intention, the recent launch of several high-profile bitcoin funds in the United States, including offerings from BlackRock and Fidelity Investments, will likely assist the company in getting product approval in Hong Kong.
Immediately following U.S. approval, a Hong Kong lawmaker suggested that the Chinese autonomous territory should respond proactively. Johnny Ng outlined that Hong Kong had to respond to secure its global position in developing the digital assets space in Hong Kong.
Towards the end of December, there appeared to be positive soundings on the possibility of spot bitcoin ETF approval in Hong Kong emerging from the local regulator. SFC CEO Julia Leung stated that the regulator was open to the notion of retail participation in spot crypto ETF products.
Her comment was followed shortly afterwards by a joint announcement from the SFC alongside the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) that they were prepared to accept applications for such funds. The approval process for such products typically takes weeks to months, following the precedent of traditional ETFs.
Hong Kong presently permits futures-based crypto ETFs, with three already listed: CSOP Bitcoin Futures, CSOP Ether Futures and Samsung Bitcoin Futures. However, these funds have a combined asset value of around $50 million. Samsung Asset Management has not ruled out exploring the launch of a spot ETF, while CSOP Asset Management remains silent on the matter.
VSFG is one of Hong Kong’s first SFC-approved virtual asset managers, offering both traditional and digital wealth management services. Aegis Custody, a digital asset custodian, is in discussions with four asset managers about listing spot crypto products in Hong Kong. The regulatory requirements in the city may lead issuers to impose higher fees compared to the low management levies seen in many new U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs.
Although bitcoin experienced substantial growth in anticipation of these U.S. products, it has seen a 10% decline since their trading commenced on Jan. 11. Nevertheless, many industry commentators expect a stronger bitcoin unit price in the medium to long term as a direct consequence of these products.