Exchanges, Huobi, Regulation, Nevada

Global crypto exchange Huobi Group is making its U.S. comeback after an abrupt departure over a year ago. 

Huobi Tech – a Hong Kong-based publicly traded company acquired by Huobi Group founder and CEO Leon Li via a reverse takeover in 2018 – said a trust license has been approved by the Nevada Financial Institutions Division for its wholly owned subsidiary Huobi Trust Company’s, according to its Tuesday filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.     

The license will enable the company to offer custodial and compliance services in the U.S. market early in 2021. The move is part of Huobi Group’s efforts to launch regulated financial products and services in the states. 

Huobi US (HBUS), another legal entity related to Huobi Group, ceased its operations in December 2019 citing regulatory concerns. The company said at the time the departure was meant to be the next step in making its businesses more compliant with U.S. laws and regulations. 

The Singapore-based exchange has since been evaluating different ways to reenter the U.S. market. In April, Huobi Group global head Ciara Sun said the exchange might team up with a fully regulated brokerage in the U.S. to operate its businesses across the country. 

The Nevada-based Huobi Trust Company will be led by its chief trust officer, Simon Collier, who served as contract project director and global head of wealth solutions at HSBC in Hong Kong for more than seven years, according to a press statement shared with CoinDesk. 

Aja Heise, who was formerly the chief compliance officer at Prime Trust, will lead the trust company’s compliance program. She has experience in designing Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) programs for digital asset projects.

“The announcement is a key step forward in the company’s ambitious plans to expand its recognized brand and products to a global audience, as well as its ongoing initiative to establish a suite of regulated financial products and services in the blockchain space,†Huobi Tech said.

The move came at a time when the U.S. regulators, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are imposing stricter scrutiny over international crypto exchanges that run businesses in the country. 

Many global crypto exchanges still face difficulties in acquiring licenses from state regulators in the U.S., especially for their fiat-crypto trading businesses.

HUBS received licenses in 43 of 50 states, but a number of them allowed the exchange to do only crypto-to-crypto trading, not crypto-to-fiat, according to an old FAQ page on HBUS’ website.

Binance, the biggest global exchange by trading volume, said last June it was not able to provide services to U.S. citizens until it was sure they were following the exchange’s terms of use and know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. The exchange then moved to launch a U.S.-based business in partnership with California-based crypto firm BAM Trading Services, which was already registered as a MSB. Known as BinanceUS, the firm was yet to provide trading services in 13 states, including New York, Texas and Florida, as of September.

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