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South Africa’s Reserve Bank SARB will regulate cryptocurrencies as financial assets, and new laws are expected over the next 12 months, to balance investor protection and innovation.

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Cryptocurrency use in South Africa is in a healthy space, with around 13% of the population estimated to own some form of cryptocurrency, according to research from global exchange Luno. With more than six million people in the country having cryptocurrency exposure, regulation of the space has long been a talking point.

Companies or individuals looking to provide advice or intermediary services involving cryptocurrencies are currently required to be recognized as financial services providers. This involves meeting a number of checkboxes to comply with global guidelines set out by the Financial Action Task Force.

Also Read: South Africa’s Adult Investment In Crypto Stands At 22%

South Africa’s National Treasury budget review published in February 2022 formally introduced the move to declare cryptocurrencies as financial products. The state also plans to enhance the monitoring and reporting of cryptocurrency transactions to comply with exchange regulations in the country.

South African Reserve Bank deputy governor Kuben Chetty has now confirmed that new legislation will be introduced in the next 12 months, speaking in an online series hosted by local investment firm PSG on Tuesday. This will see cryptocurrencies fall under the scope of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA).

This is significant, as it will allow the sector to be monitored for money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing, which has been a heavily debated byproduct of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

The SARB also continues to explore the possible introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), having recently completed a technical proof-of-concept in April 2022. The second stage of Project Khokha involved using a blockchain-based system for clearing, trading and settlement with a handful of banks that form part of the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG).

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