Stringent penalties imposed on unlicensed crypto companies in South Africa

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  • If any Crypto firms do not comply with the new guidelines, they will face a fine of $510,000 or up to 10 years in prison.
  • South Africa’s crypto ecosystem is home to Africa’s most prominent crypto ATMs per country, hosting 21 Bitcoin ATMs.
  • SA’s FSCA placed the start date of the crypto licensing to begin at June 1 2023.

Africa’s crypto ecosystem is marked with mixed opinions and takes from its governments to its citizens. Initially, most governments rejected the notion of digital currency, and many claimed it would directly oppose its fiat currency. However, this claim did not stop many individual crypto traders from pursuing an alternative income source.

Fortunately, through years of progress, many governments took notice of their growing crypto pool. South Africa is, however, among the expectation that brought the concept of digital currency to heart and fully supported it. Recently, SA’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority has established new Crytpo regulations and licenses for any crypto firms within the country.

According to an announcement, all crypto firms must comply with the regulations and acquire the license between June 1 and November 20, 2023, or face harsh fines.

South Africa’s crypto ecosystem leads the entire continent.

Throughout Africa’sjourney, with digital currency adoption, South Africa’s crypto ecosystem is, by far, the most admirable. Throughout its years, the country has advised crypto firms and digital currency as an alternative form of income for its citizens.

South Africa is among the first countries in Africa to openly advocate for digital currency during its initial wave. South Africa’s crypto ecosystem is home to Africa’s most prominent crypto ATms hosting 21 Bitcoin ATMs.

It allows traders to withdraw their digital currencies into fiat currency directly. This open advocacy of digital currency has inspired countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe and various North African countries to take a second look before altogether banning digital currency. 

Also, Read Egypt issues a heavy fine and imprisonment warnings to cryptocurrency investors.

One of the high points for South African crypto firms occurred when the nation officially recognized Crypto assets as a financial product. This marked the beginning of an era and further proved the benefits of digital currency to any doubting African governments. 

South Africa’s FSCA first advocated for the legal recognition of crypto assets in 2020, kick-starting the trajectory of South Africa.[Photo/Daily-Maverick]
However, despite the new milestone, a new problem of developing crypto regulations and licenses presented itself to its ecosystem. Furthermore, the FTX shook South Africa’s crypto ecosystem and emphasized the need for rules. 

SA’s FSCA played an integral role in ushering in the nation’s new era of digital currency. They were the primary supporters of the recent decision to view crypto as a financial product in November 2020. Unfortunately, this also required the development of new Crytpo regulations that would prevent the likelihood of any illegalities from crypto firms. On October 2020, SA’s FSCA published the final declaration that would lead to the developing of the nation’s first crypto license.

According to their announcement, the new crypto regulations and licenses will protect the customers. Furthermore, the new crypto license would provide quality assurance that would place a stamp of trust on most crypto firms.

SA’s FSCA placed the start date of the crypto licensing to begin at June 1 2023. Any crypto firm that applies for registration within the designated frame of six months. The crypt firms must show they comply with the set crypto regulations, including conditions for operating with integrity and diligence. Furthermore, if need be, they should comply if SA’s FSCA requests for various information stipulated within the crypto regulations.

South Africa’s crypto ecosystem is in turmoil.

Despite the progress of establishing the crypto license, many experts state that the timing could be better. Many South African-based crypto firms have claimed that the time allocated to comply with crypto regulations is too short. Generally, since the FTX crash, many within SA’s crypto ecosystem have taken a step back from dealing with any crypto assets.

Also, Read Crypto adoption growth demands improved infrastructure in Africa.

Like many others, its rate has fallen considerably short, and many struggle to survive. Since SA’s FSCA has yet to set the exact figures crypto firms must pay for the crypto license, the standard range is usually $132(2,544 R) to $2,395(46,251 R). 

According to SA’s FSCA, if any Crypto firms do not comply, they will face a fine of $510,000, up to 10 years in prison or both. According to Mpumelelo Ndamane, CEO of Nuud Money, a SA crypto firm, paying such a hefty penalty fee is beyond most firms within the country.

The fine may be a slap on the writs for well-established firms like Luno, but new startups may face closure or imprisonment. Furthermore, if crypto firms can pay after November, they still will have to wait for approval before recommending operations. Rejection is still an option for most crypto firms if their operations do not comply with the set crypto regulations.

Unfortunately, SA’s FSCA has yet to define if a crypto firm can reapply upon rejection. However, its current state does not appear too friendly for those who do not adhere.

Also, Read Over 4 million Kenyans lost their monies to the ongoing crypto crash.


South Africa’s current crypto ecosystem is no surprise to many. Since the FTX crash, many regulators have tightened their grip on crypto regulations. For the past few months, the SEC has been on a rampage targeting any hint of irregularities within crypt exchanges.

Unfortunately, many crypto firms in SA may have to comply with the set rules or face dire consequences if not. Despite this, establishing a crypto license sets a positive trajectory for South Africa. Soon we may crown it AFrica’s new crypto hub.


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Ken Mutuku
Ken Mutuku
Your Guide to the Future of Tech, Web3, and Digital Storytelling. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for concise communication, Ken Mutuku is your go-to professional for decoding the next wave of technological evolution. Whether through captivating videos, insightful articles, or engaging presentations, he masterfully crafts messages that deeply resonate with his audience, setting him apart in the digital landscape.