After Hong Kong’s spot Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs had a relatively successful first day of trading compared to crypto futures ETFs, some crypto industry observers believed it would send a message to China and across Asia. However, the CEO of OSL—the sub-custodian for the ChinaAMC and Harvest Global ETFs—believes this framing is wrong.

“Some may view this as a message ‘to’ mainland China,” OSL CEO and Chairman of the Board Patrick Pan told Decrypt. “I think this is more a message ‘from’ China for all to see.”

Due to Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region controlled by China—which has been called a “testing ground” for China—the passing of spot crypto ETFs was likely influenced by the mainland. “Nothing happens in Hong Kong without China's blessing—not even a raindrop,” veteran analyst Markus Thielen told Decrypt earlier this month.

“The successful launch of the spot Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs in Hong Kong says a lot about Hong Kong,” Pan added, “and its critical role as the gateway to mainland China.”


Despite this, mainland Chinese investors cannot currently invest in the fund. This is because Hong Kong ETFs must be listed for at least six months before they’re added to the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s southbound stock connect—a program that allows mainland China investors to access Hong Kong assets.

China has a long and rocky history with cryptocurrencies, effectively banning crypto multiple times. So access to crypto ETFs in Hong Kong could be a rare route for investors from mainland China to access crypto.

“The regulatory policy in mainland China since 2021 has been quite clear on the position of crypto asset businesses and trading in the mainland.” Pan told Decrypt, “But it has not slowed down the development and maturity of the regulated digital asset sector in Hong Kong—not one bit.”

Since OSL’s first spot ETF application, it only took four months for the ETF to be approved and start trading. This is a stark difference to the lengthy process in the United States, spanning nearly 10 years from the first application to the eventual approval of several spot Bitcoin ETFs.


“In a space of four months, we have gone from zero to listing highly sophisticated digital financial products in one of the world’s top stock exchanges,” Pan explained. “The blueprint for even broader and deeper digital asset product adoption across [Asia] has just been written for all to see.”

OSL believes the $11 million trading volume for Hong Kong ETFs on its debut day is a “promising start,” and said that the firm is “encouraged” by the initial investor interest.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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