Interactive Brokers secures Hong Kong license for retail crypto trading

abdelaziz Fathi

Interactive Brokers Hong Kong has obtained a license to engage in virtual asset trading for retail clients, as revealed by David Friedland, the firm’s managing director for Asia Pacific, in a LinkedIn post.

The license permits the brokerage to facilitate trading in major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether, with a formal announcement anticipated shortly.

While further details on the development are awaited, this move marks Interactive Brokers’ entry into the burgeoning retail crypto market of Hong Kong. The region is witnessing a growing number of financial institutions seeking and receiving local licenses for crypto-related services.

This development is also part of a larger wave of regulatory approvals in the region, with Hashkey historically being the first crypto exchange in Hong Kong to be licensed for retail crypto asset offerings back in August. Following suit, Swiss crypto bank SEBA expanded its services to the Hong Kong market after securing a similar license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in November.

Interactive Brokers already offers low-fee cryptocurrency trading for professional investors in Hong Kong. The firm, one of the largest brokerages in the US, opened an early-access waitlist to eligible clients including individuals with over HKD 8 million in assets or institutions with assets greater than HKD 40 million. They will be able to trade and custody Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) alongside stocks, options, futures, bonds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, creating a unified client experience.

Interactive Brokers has recently widened access to cryptocurrency trading for its clients. Specifically, the discount broker extended trading hours for its cryptocurrency products to be traded 24/7, including on the weekends.

Before that, cryptocurrency traders at Interactive Brokers were having their contracts expire each week on Friday, and these were rolled over to the next week. This was instituted to prevent potential gaps that could be incurred by clients to reflect price changes while IBKR trading was closed outside of trading hours.

The broker offers low-cost cryptocurrency trading to its clients via partnership with New York-based exchange and stablecoin issuer, Paxos, which is currently under SEC’s scrutiny.

The changes applied by Interactive Brokers help resolve some of the underlying issues that have made it challenging for traders to have access to cryptocurrency trading around the clock. Namely, the extended trading hours eliminate the inconvenience of carrying positions from one week to the next without weekend quotes.

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