Hong Kong’s Grey Zone Crypto Stores Draw in Chinese Visitors

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Pexels / Aleksandar Pasaric

According to a report from the Financial Times, the influx of Chinese tourists into Hong Kong has witnessed a peculiar trend in recent months, as more individuals seek to purchase cryptocurrencies during their visits.

This surge in interest can be attributed to the stringent regulations surrounding cryptocurrency transactions within mainland China. 

Situated on the eastern Pearl River Delta in South China, Hong Kong, a bustling city with a population exceeding seven million residents, is known for its pro-innovation, technology mindset, and recent pro-crypto regulations. 

With limited options available in mainland China, Chinese tourists are drawn to Hong Kong’s crypto stores, which boast a unique appeal due to their relaxed regulations.

Numerous crypto shops have become common in the city’s bustling districts. 

From shopping malls to popular tourist destinations, these establishments present an alluring opportunity for customers: the convenience of purchasing digital assets with cash, often without invasive identity verifications (KYCs) or investigations into the source of funds.

The presence of these shops and the legal uncertainty surrounding them have created a fertile ground for the city’s ambition to establish itself as a hub for virtual assets. 

As a result, there has been a remarkable surge in the number of visitors from mainland China seeking to explore and engage with the crypto scene in this vibrant city.

Roger Li, the co-founder of One Satoshi, discloses a notable surge of around 20–25% in trading volumes during the first five months of the current year compared to the corresponding period last year. 

Based on this growth, Li anticipates a year-end increase ranging between 35 and 40%.

Hong Kong’s New Regulatory Regime for Cryptocurrencies Despite China’s Anti-Crypto Stance

China’s anti-crypto measures gained international attention in 2018 when the country imposed a ban on foreign cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Subsequently, China evolved into a prominent Bitcoin mining hub before enacting a comprehensive ban on all cryptocurrency activities, including mining, trading, and exchanging, in 2021. 

However, possession of Bitcoin remains legal within the country.

Hong Kong has recently taken significant strides in cryptocurrencies by implementing legislation to foster their adoption and growth. 

After months of expressing its ambition to establish a digital-asset hub, Hong Kong finally launched its new regulatory regime for cryptocurrency on June 1.

Despite China’s historically stringent anti-cryptocurrency stance, Hong Kong took a different path and introduced legislation that enables retail investors to engage directly with crypto assets, demonstrating its progressive approach.

This situation has led to an exciting development in Hong Kong, where the city has emerged as a potential haven for crypto users and enthusiasts from China. 

Hong Kong-based crypto firms have attracted the attention of Chinese banks, highlighting the contrasting approaches to cryptocurrencies between China and Hong Kong. 

This divergence further strengthens Hong Kong’s unique position in the global cryptocurrency landscape.