South Africa has taken a significant step in cryptocurrency regulation by becoming the first country on the continent to require digital asset exchanges to obtain licenses. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has announced that all crypto exchanges operating in the country must comply with this requirement by the end of the year.

The FSCA commissioner, Unathi Kamlana, revealed that the agency has already received approximately 20 license applications since the recent opening of the licensing process. Moreover, Kamlana expects more applications to come in before the November 30 deadline, as reported by Bloomberg.

Enforcement Action and Potential Consequences

Furthermore, Kamlana emphasized that after the deadline, the FSCA will take “enforcement action” against crypto exchanges operating without a license. This action may include imposing fines or even closing noncompliant firms, as stated in the report.

Moreover, the regulatory authority aims to ensure compliance and protect financial customers from potential risks associated with unlicensed operations.

Sensible Approach and Collaboration with the Industry

Kamlana also believes that implementing a regulatory framework for crypto products is a prudent approach to safeguard financial customers. He further stressed the need for time to assess the effectiveness of these measures.

Additionally, he assured ongoing collaboration with the industry to refine and implement necessary changes. This collaborative effort between regulators and market participants will ensure the continuous improvement of crypto regulations in South Africa.

Crypto coins for the Crypto exchange license set to be mandated in South Africa

The new licensing requirement affects prominent trading venues based in South Africa. This includes Luno, owned by Digital Currency Group, and VALR crypto exchange, backed by Pantera Capital. Even global platforms like Binance, operating within the country, will need to obtain licenses to comply with the new regulations.

According to an FSCA spokesperson, individuals providing financial services in crypto assets, with certain exceptions like crypto miners and NFT service providers, must obtain authorization. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes a violation of the law, and relevant authorities may initiate regulatory action.

Collaborative Efforts and Regulatory Engagement

The FSCA has been actively involved in the regulation of cryptocurrencies and fintech. It collaborates with an “inter-governmental fintech working group” consisting of major financial sector regulators and policymakers, including the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank. This collaborative approach ensures comprehensive and well-informed regulations in the crypto space.

The trend of tightening regulations in the cryptocurrency sector extends beyond South Africa. On July 3, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced its own regulatory measures, requiring crypto service providers in the country to place customer assets into a statutory trust for secure storage by the end of the year. This global shift highlights the increasing need for more stringent regulations in the crypto industry.

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