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Hong Kong Crypto Community Appeals to Leave Bitcoin ATMs Out of New Restrictions

Hong Kong first hinted at the introduction of new cryptocurrency regulations on centralized exchanges back in early November that would greatly reduce the accessibility of crypto such as Bitcoin for retail investors. Now, the local crypto community is appealing to the government to exclude Bitcoin and crypto ATM machines from new regulations, as this is the easiest and most direct way for citizens to purchase Bitcoin. 

According to the South China Morning Post, there are approximately 60 crypto ATMs citywide which are located in various accessible spots, such as in shopping malls and commercial buildings. While purchasing Bitcoin online on various exchanges and apps is the fastest and most convenient method to own or trade the digital asset, ATMs do cater to a group of retail traders who may find it difficult to purchase Bitcoin online and prefer to do so physically at a teller machine.

Greater regulatory scope to include all cryptocurrency exchanges would put Hong Kong on par with some of its regional counterparts such as Singapore and Japan, which also requires all crypto payments businesses to register and obtain approval for operation in their respective jurisdictions. Hong Kong is currently practicing an opt-in registration system where it is not mandatory for all crypto businesses to seek approval from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). 

Amendments to crypto regulation are expected to be made soon, leaving the crypto industry in uncertainty. The changes are being made in accordance to global standards for anti-money laundering measures, and crypto ATMs are likely to fall under the new rules.

“To restrict retail individuals from accessing bitcoin would be overshooting the government’s goals of promoting innovation, and financial inclusion,” said Leo Weese, the co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong.

On the other side of the argument, however, analysts are of the opinion that regulating crypto ATMs and all crypto exchanges in general will allow both old and new traders to invest in crypto with greater confidence and trust as well.

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