UAE and Hong Kong central banks agreed to collaborate on crypto regulations

June 6, 2023

By Tsering Namgyal

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has agreed to beef up cooperation in regulating virtual assets, amongst other areas, during a meeting last week.

The two central banks are reportedly planning to form a “joint working group” to push forward developments in crypto regulations in two countries.

According to a statement by the HKMA released last week, the working group will focus on strengthening bilateral ties in areas including financial infrastructure and market connectivity.

“Hong Kong and the UAE are two financial centers sharing many complementary strengths and mutual interests, and there is much room for market participants from these two places to work together and build up the connectivity,” said HKMA chief executive Eddie Yue.

The United Arab Emirates – which has a dedicated crypto regulator, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) – is taking an increasingly proactive approach towards regulating crypto. It’s known as one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions in the world. In April, its regulators began accepting applications from cryptocurrency businesses for operating licenses in the country.

Hong Kong’s new licensing regime for crypto sector went into effect last Thursday, a regulatory green light that is expected to attract a horde of companies willing to offer crypto trading services in the city.

The new norms have pushed the former British colony to the forefront of jurisdictions with progressive regulatory regimes governing cryptocurrencies.

H.E. Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the CBUAE, said: “We are pleased to have welcomed the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and its delegation to the UAE as we look to build on our central banks’ existing and robust relations.”

He said that two authorities “explored deepening collaboration across several important areas including financial market infrastructure development and mutual opportunities for growth in digitisation and technological advancement.”

Last week, HKMA also held a luncheon with major financial institutions and corporates in Dubai, “to promote Hong Kong’s value propositions as a leading international financial centre and strengthen financial collaboration with the UAE,” according to the HKMA statement.  

The three-day visit to the UAE was led by HKMA chief executive Yue, and joined by senior banking executives from major Hong Kong banks such as Bank of China, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citi. Banks such as First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Emirates NBD represented the UAE.

“The strong economic ties between the UAE and Hong Kong lay a solid foundation and practical need for our banking and investment ecosystem to mutually thrive and optimise.

As we are forging ahead with our new initiatives to fortify our ecosystem and create new opportunities, Hong Kong certainly has much to offer,” Yue said.

The above events followed the bilateral meeting on 29 May between the HKMA and its UAE counterpart to enhance collaboration between the two.

Concluding the UAE visit, Mr Yue said, “The visit has paved way for the further strengthening of bilateral ties and promoted Hong Kong as a leading international financial centre.  I am impressed by the strong interest and commitment of the official and private sectors to strengthen our broad-based partnership across the financial ecosystem.”

About the author

Tsering Namgyal is the chief content officer of

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