Binance Quits Stock Token Trading as Hong Kong Adds to Mounting Regulatory Pressure
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced it will no longer support the trading of stock tokens. The decision comes against the backdrop of an ongoing regulatory crackdown, with Hong Kong becoming the latest to declare that the platform is not licensed to provide such services in its jurisdiction.
Stock Tokens No Longer Available for Purchase on Binance.com
Binance, the world’s leading digital asset exchange by daily volume, is ceasing support for stock tokens. The coin trading platform explained that the move is part of its continuous evaluation of products, but it also comes amid an increasing pressure on the exchange from regulators around the world. On Friday, the crypto company said:
Today, we are announcing that we will be winding down support for stock tokens on Binance.com to shift our commercial focus to other product offerings.
The exchange pointed out that the suspension is “effective immediately,” with stock tokens already unavailable for purchase on Binance.com. The platform will not support any stock tokens after Oct. 14, 2021 but investors will be able to hold and sell them over the next 90 days.
The announcement further details that “all stock token positions on Binance.com will be closed at 2021-10-15 13:30 (UTC).” Binance said the closing prices will be based on actual executed prices after the market opens for trading on Oct. 15. It warned these may be different from the rates registered a day earlier. A Binance spokesperson was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as stating:
We believe that shifting our commercial focus to other product offerings will better serve our users for the long term.
Residents of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will have an option to transfer their stock tokens to a new portal to be launched by CM-Equity AG in early October. The transition will be subject to additional know-your-customer (KYC) procedures, Binance added, noting that all stock tokens listed on Binance.com are products issued and sold by the Germany-based CM-Equity.
Hong Kong Securities Commission Warns Against Stock Token Purchases on Binance
Binance’s decision coincides with a growing number of regulators expressing concerns over the exchange offering tokenized stocks among other products and services without authorization. The list includes regulatory bodies in Italy, Lithuania, the U.K., Japan, and Germany where the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, Bafin, said earlier this year that tokens linked to stocks of companies like Tesla represent securities, if they can be transferred and traded on a cryptocurrency exchange.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) became the latest agency to issue a warning against Binance. On Friday, the regulator said it’s “aware that Binance has offered trading services in stock tokens in a number of jurisdictions and is concerned that these services may also be offered to Hong Kong investors.” The SFC emphasized that “no entity in the Binance group is licensed or registered to conduct ‘regulated activity’ in Hong Kong.”
The commission elaborated that stock tokens are likely to be “securities” under the Securities and Futures Ordinance of the Chinese special administrative region. And if that’s the case, they should be subject to the regulatory remit of the SFC.
The regulator warned that the marketing and distribution of such tokens, “whether in Hong Kong or targeting Hong Kong investors,” constitute a “regulated activity” and require a license. Anyone offering stock tokens in the city without registration may face criminal charges, the securities commission stressed, urging potential investors to be “extremely careful” with stock token purchases on unregulated platforms.
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