Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC") will no longer accept physical applications from individual licensees, starting early next year, it said. The SFC said that from 1 February 2017, all individual applicants and licensees would be required to use the SFC Online Portal to submit their licensing applications, notifications and annual returns to the regulator. The SFC said the move would help improve the efficiency of processing licensing-related matters.
"This will improve the efficiency of the licensing application process and enable the commission to handle a significant increase in the number of licensing applications," the regulator said in a circular to the industry.
Corporate applicants and intermediaries would be allowed to continue submitting their applications and documentation in paper form, it said.
The regulator said new forms would be available on the SFC Online Portal for individual applicants and licensees on 2 December, while new paper forms for corporate applicants and intermediaries would be ready on 1 February 2017.
Under the current regulatory regime, documentation can be submitted either in paper form or through the SFC portal.
The SFC said it had enhanced the flow, speed and capacity of its portal to facilitate the increase in online submissions.
The SFC has in recent years been an early supporter of adopting technology to improve regulatory efficiency and improve outcomes for market participants. Earlier this year, it set up a fintech contact point to help financial technology start-ups navigate Hong Kong's regulatory regime, and it has also embraced the concept of regtech – in which firms and regulators use new technological solutions to address regulatory challenges and speed up processes.