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Hong Kong Lures Web3, Metaverse Projects as City Reopens for Business

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Web3 and the metaverse will feature prominently in this year’s Hong Kong Fintech Week, and the city is set to issue a policy statement on crypto to promote the development of the territory into an international virtual asset center, according to an official blog post on the site of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government’s finance secretary.

The statement will cover the SAR’s vision and strategy, regulatory regime, attitude towards opening up investors’ access to virtual assets, and the technological advantages brought by virtual asset pilot projects,” the blog post reads.

Hong Kong’s crypto ambitions is part of China’s 14th five-year plan, which positions the city as the country’s international financial center and supports Hong Kong’s development into an international innovation and technology center.

“The policy statement will clearly express the government’s position, demonstrate to the global industry our vision to develop Hong Kong into an international virtual asset center, and our commitment and determination to explore financial innovation with the global asset industry,” the post continues.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission also said it would make an announcement clarifying the government’s stance on digital assets to global markets.

More details will be released at the upcoming FinTech Week, organized by the Hong Kong government, on Oct 31 to Nov 4.

The event will incorporate web3, Metaverse and other concepts to add new elements, and participants will be issued a Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP) token in the form of an NFT.

Crypto industry speakers at the event include Andreesen Horowitz general partner Alex Rampell, FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, Animoca Brands founder Yat Siu, Amber group managing director Annabelle Huang, dYdX Foundation CEO Charles d’Haussy, and Sandbox COO and co-founder Sebastien Borget. Heads of major banks and asset managers are also well-represented, along with a host of mainland and Hong Kong representatives from government and regulators.

Too little too late?

Hong Kong, once the regional leader in the finance world, has lost some of its allure in recent years, following closer alignment with the CCP’s priorities, unfriendly crypto rules and a harsh crackdown on dissent.

The city recently re-opened its borders for business, following a long Covid lockdown, removing social distancing restrictions and hotel quarantine for visitors in late-September. The Covid-19 period saw an exodus of bankers and firms in the space, who’ve moved to greener pastures such as Singapore and Dubai.

Amid this shift, regulators in the Singapore have remained cautious about crypto investing among the retail crowd, but Singapore’s welcoming approach has helped the financial hub attract digital asset services-related firms from China, India and elsewhere in recent years, making it a major centre in Asia.

Related: Crypto Isn’t Going Mainstream Anytime Soon, Ensures MAS

Dubai has also emerged as a possible haven for the global crypto industry, with major players such as, FTX, and Binance all setting up shop in the gulf nation. The emirate is already one step ahead of its Asian counterparts in setting up a watchdog – the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) – to regulate the space and facilitate the growth of the virtual assets ecosystem there.