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    HomeGovernance, Policy & Regulations ForumPolicy & Regulations ForumHow the New Crypto Licensing Regime Will Work in South Africa

    How the New Crypto Licensing Regime Will Work in South Africa

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    South Africa is on the brink of implementing a revolutionary framework to regulate its cryptocurrency market. This innovative licensing regime aims to transform the digital asset landscape, ensuring transparency, security, and investor protection in the burgeoning crypto sector.

    With plans to grant licenses to approximately 60 crypto platforms by the end of March 2024, South Africa is poised to become a trailblazer in Africa’s crypto industry. This move comes in response to a pressing need to address the proliferation of crypto scams that have plagued the nation, resulting in significant financial losses.

    Under the new regulatory framework, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is overseeing the licensing process, grappling with an influx of over 300 applications from crypto asset providers seeking approval. Commissioner Unathi Kamlana has revealed that applications are being meticulously reviewed in phases to ensure compliance with rigorous regulatory standards.

    Instead of crafting a separate regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, the FSCA has opted to integrate crypto exchanges into the existing Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act. This approach underscores the importance of upholding the integrity and competence of all financial services providers, thereby enhancing investor confidence.

    Existing crypto platforms were granted a licensing window from June 1 to November 30, 2023, to align themselves with the new regulatory requirements. Failure to obtain a license by the specified deadline could lead to enforcement action by the FSCA, signaling a firm commitment to regulatory compliance within the digital asset sector.

    Notable South African trading ventures, including Luno and VALR, are among those required to secure licenses, alongside global platforms like Binance operating within the country. This demonstrates South Africa’s determination to regulate both local and international players in its crypto market.

    The introduction of this groundbreaking licensing regime aligns with global efforts to tighten regulations surrounding the cryptocurrency sector in response to recent company collapses and fraudulent activities. The approval of the Markets in Cryptoassets (MiCA) law by the European Union and the implementation of new regulations in Hong Kong further underscore the growing trend towards regulatory scrutiny worldwide.

    South Africa has been no stranger to high-profile crypto scams in recent years, including the disappearance of significant investment funds. The FSCA has been actively engaged in formulating crypto and fintech regulations, collaborating with key stakeholders to enhance consumer protection measures.

    Commissioner Kamlana emphasizes the importance of caution when engaging in cryptocurrency transactions, highlighting the potential for substantial financial losses. As South Africa moves forward with its crypto licensing regime, it aims to create a robust and transparent regulatory framework that safeguards investors and promotes trust in the digital asset market.

    Charles Rapulu Udoh is a Lagos-based lawyer, who has several years of experience working in Africa’s burgeoning tech startup industry. He has closed multi-million dollar deals bordering on venture capital, private equity, intellectual property (trademark, patent or design, etc.), mergers and acquisitions, in countries such as in the Delaware, New York, UK, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, South Africa, Nigeria etc. He’s also a corporate governance and cross-border data privacy and tax expert. As an award-winning writer and researcher, he is passionate about telling the African startup story, and is one of the continent’s pioneers in this regard.

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