The South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has unveiled a draft cryptocurrency regulation policy framework. This proposal aims to bring all crypto trading and investment activities in the country under its close supervision. Under the policy revealed to the public on Nov 20, all crypto exchanges must receive FSCA authorisation to act as financial services providers.
The proposal uses South Africa’s Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act 2002 for its basis. The new policy classifies crypto assets as financial products. This classification brings all crypto investment, trading and advisory services under the FCA’s regulatory jurisdiction. The move is a departure from the country’s erstwhile soft touch regulatory approach to crypto.
New South African Regulations Explained
Under the new rules, South Africa’s previously unregulated crypto economy is now expressly classified as part of the financial services sector. All providers must demonstrate the same fiduciary capacity as traditional financial institutions.
While bringing crypto trading and investment under the FSCA, the new regulations do not mean that cryptocurrency is recognised as money in South Africa. According to the FSCA’s supporting statement in the policy proposal, the regulations aim to stem the tide of cryptocurrency scams which have swept through the country over the past three years.
In fact, the FSCA’s director of investigations and enforcement Brandon Topham was quoted in Business Insider saying that in his opinion crypto is “highly suspect and nobody should be invested in anything form of cryptocurrency or any of the products that go with it”.
An excerpt from the document reads:
The Declaration in no way legitimises or gives credence to crypto assets, but is merely attempting to regulate intermediaries that are selling and advising customers to invest in crypto assets. It is envisaged that this will either result in customers making more informed decisions when purchasing crypto assets or potentially in a decline in intermediaries attempting to advise on and/or sell crypto assets. It will also reduce instances of fraudulent activity where players purport to be selling investments in crypto assets but are in reality absconding with customer
Implications Of New Regulations
The new regulations will mandate all exchange platforms, advisors and brokers involved in the crypto space to certify themselves under the FSCA’s standards. They will have to prove that they have the relevant qualifications, capacity, experience and knowledge, as well as pass a personal character evaluation.
Crypto trading and investment activities will also require a financial services provider license. Failure to obtain this license could lead to jail time. Brokers and other intermediaries offering crypto investment are required to justify any decision to recommend a crypto investment to their clients.
Explaining this decision, the statement reads in part:
[This] will result in improved disclosures to customers that more effectively highlight the high risks involved in investing in crypto assets and should also ensure that a more robust advice process is adopted (including proper risk assessments) when intermediaries decide to advise customers to purchase crypto asset.