The CEO of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HkEX) recently made some comments which indicate the exchange’s hesitation to list cryptocurrency mining companies.

In a report coming from Tencent’s Finance QQ, the company’s CEO Charles Li Xioajia said that the exchange is focused on ensuring companies that list on HKEX are able to run a sustainable business. In other words, HKEX is concerned that cryptocurrency mining companies may not be a  viable long-term business model, and the profits may have been short-lived.

These comments may signal trouble for Bitmain, which following an IPO has been planning to list on the HKEX. Two other Chinese mining firms, Canaan and Ebang have also filed to list on the exchange, but none have received approval.

Li appeared to be particularly concerned at the attempts by Bitmain to pivot its business to AI.

Jihan Wu, the CEO of Bitmain at the time, said that one day up to 40 percent of its revenue may come from AI. To Li, this potentially is a red flag that indicates Bitmain doesn’t view its original business as sustainable. Bitmain has since dramatically scaled back its focus on AI and other business models not central to its mission.

“If a company made billions of US dollars through Business A, but suddenly said it will do Business B without showing any performance or said Business B is better, then I don’t think the Business A featured in their application will be sustainable,”  Xioajia told the South China Morning Post.

Bitmain has been attempting to list on the HKEX since September of last year, while Canaan and Ebang have been trying to list since the summer.

Since Bitmain announced its intentions to conduct an IPO, we have seen significant shake-ups in the mining giant. This has included layoffs that were reported to be up to 50 percent of the staff and CEO Jihan Wu stepping down from his position as head of the company.

The company has reigned in its efforts to enter other markets and has been managing declining revenues and a failing investment into Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

It seems that Bitmain must rise to the occasion and address the concerns of the mainstream financial world if it wants to list its IPO. In doing so, it is not afforded the luxury of an audience that already believes in the power of crypto but instead must face arbiters who are aware of the volatile nature of the sector and believe it may be unsustainable.

Bitmain is not afforded a “get out of jail free card” due to its billion-dollar success in 2017 and is being called on to prove that it can continue to demonstrate profits without being bailed out by a pivot to another business model.