With bitcoin again dominating headlines, a flood of new money has recently entered the cryptocurrency markets – including from emerging crypto markets such as Hong Kong. Local media outlets are reporting, however, that many new investors may be ill-prepared for the risks associated with cryptocurrency.
Bob Laberge, a Canadian in His 50s Living in Hong Kong, Recently Invested in Bitcoin for the First Time
Speaking to South China Morning Post, Mr. Laberge stated that he first invested on November 15th, purchasing $500 USD worth of bitcoin when the price was at approximately $6,600 – despite knowing very little about cryptocurrency at the time. After a fortnight, Mr. Laberge chose to invest “tens of thousands more” into bitcoin, however, and was left in a high state of anxiety due to his chosen bitcoin exchange failing to credit his account for four days.
“The way I dealt with the banks was exactly the mindset when I was getting into bitcoin. For most exchanges it’s very difficult to get in touch with them. The only way to contact people, unlike a bank where you call their number and someone answers in a couple of minutes, is through a support ticket. And if they don’t answer the support ticket you are left hanging and it’s stressful when you’ve got a huge amount of money sitting there.”
Mr. Laberge stated that he will not invest any further capital into bitcoin, despite his investment increasing in value by 70%. “My wife saw that it was going up and she said we should invest more but I said ‘No, let’s not lose our heads.”
The President of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association, Leo Weese, Has Commented on the Rush of New Investors Entering the Crypto Markets
“There is certainly a big influx of new [bitcoin] users; the price increases give people an incentive to get in as fast as they can,” Mr. Weese stated. “The problem is that people are not making good decisions and they’re not thinking about exactly what it is that they’re investing in and what the risks are.”
Mr. Weese stated that he expects to see the collapse of several “poorly run” Asian cryptocurrency exchanges in future, warning that many investors are inadequately accounting for counterparty risk. “People confuse bitcoin always being around with bitcoin exchanges always being around, but that’s not the case.”
Rapid Growth Poses Challenges to Regulators
Charles Mok, a representative of the IT sector to Hong Kong’s legislative council, has described the booming cryptocurrency sector as posing a number of challenges to regulators. “It puts us in a very uncomfortable situation,” Mr. Mok stated. “On the one hand we want to see an industry developing around cryptocurrency. But on the other hand, I don’t think these kinds of speculative activities … are really conducive to the long-term development of crypto-technology and cryptocurrencies.”
Mr. Mok expressed concerns that should local bitcoin exchanges collapse, that Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) would seek to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. He states that the SFC would likely lack the experience and knowledge required to develop an effective regulatory apparatus for crypto, and could potentially resort to enacting prohibitive policies. Despite Mr. Mok’s concerns, Hong Kong’s financial regulator has not expressed the intention to develop a specialized legislative framework for cryptocurrencies.
On December 11th, the SFC published a document articulating that companies seeking to offer “bitcoin futures contracts and cryptocurrency-related investment products” in Hong Kong are required to adhere to existing regulations defined in the territory’s “Securities and Futures Ordinance.”
What risk management strategies do you employ in the management of your crypto holdings? Share your tips in the comments section below!
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