(Updates to add quotes and comments from asset managers, no reply from SFC to request for comment, context throughout)

HONGKONG/SHANGHAI, April 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong gave initial approval to its first spot bitcoin and ether exchange traded funds (ETFs) on Monday, money managers said, paving the way for the city to become Asia's first to accept the cryptocurrencies as a mainstream investment tool.

At least three offshore Chinese asset managers will launch the virtual asset spot ETFs soon.

The Hong Kong units of Harvest Fund Management and Bosera Asset Management said in separate statements they had received conditional approvals from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to launch the ETFs.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong unit of China Asset Management - ChinaAMC (HK), said it has received regulatory approval on Monday for the provision of virtual asset management services, and the firm is actively developing the spot ETFs of bitcoin and ether.

Hong Kong's SFC did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on the approvals.

The step comes just three months after the U.S. launched its first ETFs to track spot bitcoin. The U.S. launch set an example for other regions as it has already drawn roughly $12 billion in net inflows.

While cryptocurrency is banned in mainland China, Hong Kong has been pushing forward to promote the city as a global digital asset hub, as authorities are making an all-out effort to improve the city's attractiveness as a financial centre.

"The introduction of the virtual asset spot ETFs not only provides investors with new asset allocation opportunities but also reinforces Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre and a hub for virtual assets," Bosera Asset Management (International) said in the statement.

Bosera will launch the product in partnership with Hong Kong-based HashKey Capital.

The virtual asset spot ETFs in Hong Kong will introduce the so called "in-kind" subscription mechanism which allows investors to buy into the ETF shares using bitcoin or ether directly, Bosera added.

Chinese financial institutions, facing setbacks in faltering Chinese equity markets in recent years, have been keen to participate in crypto asset development in Hong Kong.

The conditional approval will help Harvest Global's pursuit of promoting industry innovation and meet the diverse demand among investors, Harvest Global Investments CEO Han Tongli said.

Bitcoin has gained more than 50% this year and hit an all-time high of $73,803 in March. It was trading at around $66,000 on Monday. (Reporting by Summer Zhen in Hong Kong and Jason Xue in Shanghai; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Muralikumar Anantharaman)