U.S. crypto regulatory uncertainty could be Hong Kong’s gain – Yat Siu


Industry experts believe Hong Kong’s shifting attitude towards blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and Web3 could entice businesses away from the United States.

The city has made a series of moves over the past year to foster the development of the Web3 space and enable retail investment into cryptocurrencies. The latest example of this is the formation of its Task Force on Promoting Web3 Development.

Yat Siu, co-founder of Web3 investment firm Animoca Brands, is one of 15 industry experts invited to be an advisor to the task force, which will interface directly with key government officials and financial regulators.

In a wide ranging, exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Siu highlighted Hong Kong’s gradual change in attitude towards crypto and Web3 in recent years, which puts the city in a unique position to attract startups and established firms to its jurisdiction.

While conceding that the U.S. should not be ‘counted out’ of the Web3 race, Siu said that many firms in the sector are operating ‘under a regime of fear’ due to a lack of regulatory clarity. This has been exacerbated in recent months by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing separate charges against Binance.US and Coinbase for a raft of alleged unregistered securities offerings:

“The SEC doesn’t seem to be wanting to be consistent about this, in contrast to Hong Kong, or other jurisdictions like Japan, the Middle East or even Europe which have rules that are starting to become consistent.”

Siu said that Hong Kong has seen an opportunity to take a leadership position in terms of driving Web3 development while the U.S. seemingly ‘self-sabotaged’ its potential to be a prime destination for companies in the sector.

Hong Kong also held the cryptocurrency space at arms length for a number of years, with restrictive policies outlawing retail investment into cryptocurrencies only recently overturned after lengthy consultation with industry proponents.

Siu said that the government had demonstrated a level of ‘agility’ in its changing stance towards the industry, considering that it had not always been welcoming to cryptocurrency companies.

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Hong Kong’s Web3 task force is also likely to be a fairly fluid arrangement. Siu told Cointelegraph that he’d been pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of so many Web3 proponents, a move that signals the city’s intent to continue fostering the sector.

The working group is yet to have a first meeting and Siu expects monthly or quarterly meetings with a variety of crypto, blockchain and Web3 working groups that have been established in Hong Kong.

Members of the Web3 task force have entered into a two-year agreement with the Hong Kong government and are set to advise on ways to drive growth of the industry. Siu envisions the task force driving development of the sector by fostering talent and encouraging exploration of blockchain solutions in tertiary education institutions:

“I think it’s a great way in which we could build a closer relationship with the government and also sort of push forward the Web3 adoption agenda.”

As previously reported, Hong Kong’s efforts to kindle the Web3 sector have seen the city’s Cyberport attract over 150 Web3 firms this year, while companies are reportedly spending between $2 to $25 million on attaining virtual asset service provider licenses to operate in the city.

Magazine: 6 Questions for Yat Siu of Animoca Brands