On May 23, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) made a groundbreaking announcement, signaling a significant shift in the region's crypto landscape. The regulatory body revealed its intention to allow licensed platforms to cater to retail investors, paving the way for increased participation in virtual asset trading.
In the wake of this momentous update, Gate Group, the virtual asset services provider and parent company of Gate.io, has launched its latest virtual asset trading platform in Hong Kong, Gate.HK. As the industry takes a leap forward, we sat down with Gate.HK's CEO, Kevin Lee, to gain exclusive insights into his vision, development plans for Gate.HK and his perspective on the crypto industry in Hong Kong.
To begin with, what motivated you to enter the crypto industry?
It was 2014 when I purchased my first Bitcoins at the all-time high back then, at $140. It dropped to $90 later, and I laughed and kind of forgot about it. It wasn't until 2017, when the price was approaching $20,000, that I realized I needed to retrieve my coins and sell them for the best investment return of my life.
Since then, two things have caught my attention.
First, there has been revolutionary development not only in cryptocurrencies but also in blockchain technology. It has so much potential to become more than just an alternative medium of exchange. Smart contracts were a novel concept back in 2017, and we have seen how they evolved into the entire Web3 ecosystem in the coming years.
Second, the cryptocurrency markets were surprisingly similar to the traditional financial markets. Having spent over 15 years in banks, I witnessed the same patterns happening in crypto as I had seen on the equity market; market inefficiencies are compensated by market-making activities, fragmentations are reduced by smart order routing and arbitrage opportunities are captured by algorithmic trading. The final piece of the puzzle is regulations. When the voluntary licensing regime for virtual asset trading platforms was first introduced by the Securities and Futures Commission in 2020, I knew it was time for me to fully commit to my passion as well as my career to the crypto industry. This represents a one-way road toward a safe, secure and compliant environment for everyone to invest in and safeguard virtual assets.
Can you share your overall vision for Gate.HK? What do you hope to achieve during your tenure?
Gate.HK envisions establishing a strong presence in the cryptocurrency industry in Hong Kong, which is recognized as a key market for digital assets. Our primary objective is to introduce Gate's trusted and experienced crypto trading services to the Hong Kong market and its investors. We are committed to providing innovative and compliant services that prioritize the security and reliability of our platform.
My goal with Gate.HK is to play a significant role in boosting the crypto industry in Hong Kong. By offering a wide range of trading services, user-friendly interfaces and robust security measures, we seek to attract both seasoned and novice investors to explore the opportunities presented by cryptocurrencies. We believe that by promoting transparency, education and regulatory compliance, we can contribute to the long-term growth and stability of the crypto market in Hong Kong.
Ultimately, our vision for Gate.HK is to become the go-to platform for cryptocurrency trading in Hong Kong, known for its integrity, security and seamless user experience. We hope to contribute to the growth and development of the Hong Kong crypto industry, fostering a thriving Web3 ecosystem for all participants.
How do you see the future of virtual assets and cryptocurrencies, and how does Gate.HK fit into that vision?
The future of virtual assets and cryptocurrencies is full of potential. We anticipate that these digital currencies will continue to gain acceptance as more individuals and businesses recognize their advantages, such as faster and more efficient transactions, borderless accessibility and their decentralized nature. For Gate.HK, we strive to be a trusted gateway for users to access and trade a diverse range of virtual assets securely. By prioritizing compliance, user experience and technological innovation, Gate.HK aims to empower individuals and institutions to navigate the future of cryptocurrencies with confidence and ease.
Hong Kong has a unique regulatory framework for virtual assets. How do you plan to ensure that Gate.HK operates in compliance with these regulations?
We have a long estate. In 2022 August, Gate Group's Hong Kong-based company, Hippo Financial Services Limited (Hippo FS), successfully obtained its Trust or Company Service Provider (TCSP) license, allowing the group to offer virtual assets custody services to its clients.
Early this year, Gate.HK started preparing for its license application with the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in Hong Kong for its virtual asset exchange, and it will be officially filing the license application in the second half of the year. Gate.HK is available to both retail users and professional users.
I am also one of the few in Hong Kong who has not only more than 12 years of experience carrying on regulated activities in Hong Kong under the SFC, but also two years of first-hand experience specifically working under the SFC's voluntary licensing regime for virtual asset trading platforms as a licensed representative. I believe my knowledge and experience can help Gate.HK implement platform operations in compliance with the regulatory framework.
Gate.HK is one of the many virtual asset trading platforms in Hong Kong. What sets Gate.HK apart from its competitors, and how do you plan to maintain a competitive edge in the market?
What sets Gate.HK apart from its competitors is the combination of Gate's experienced and trustworthy trading service, along with a commitment to transparency right from the start. We are proud to offer a platform that prioritizes the security and integrity of our users' assets. Our unique competitive advantage lies in our dedication to providing 100% proof of reserves, ensuring transparency in all transactions. Gate.HK also aims to extend Gate Group's slogan, "Gateway to Crypto," to provide to all Hong Kong users a safe, secure and easy-to-access trading platform.
Gate.HK's development plan is crucial for its growth. Can you outline some of the key initiatives or strategies that you intend to implement to drive the platform's development and expansion?
Apart from the approaches I mentioned above, we are also committed to ongoing innovation and staying ahead of market trends. We will actively monitor and evaluate emerging technologies and user needs to ensure that our platform remains at the forefront of the industry. By continuously enhancing our trading services, introducing new features and expanding our offering of cryptocurrencies, we aim to meet the evolving demands of our users and stay ahead of our competitors.
Furthermore, we believe that building strong partnerships within the crypto ecosystem is crucial for success. Gate.HK will collaborate with reputable financial institutions, regulatory bodies and industry stakeholders to foster an environment of trust, compliance and innovation. These partnerships will not only enhance our credibility but also allow us to contribute to shaping industry standards and regulations.
Security is a major concern for virtual asset trading platforms. How will you prioritize security measures at Gate.HK to protect the assets and data of your users?
Safe and reliable transactions are the primary consideration for us. We are well aware of the importance of blockchain asset security and always put user asset security first. We invest heavily in the security of user assets through the dual means of centralization and decentralization (GateChain) solutions to provide "safety and legal funds" for the protection of user assets. We guarantee user transaction security from four aspects: platform security, account security, asset security (cold and hot wallets) and compliance security (100% proof of reserves).