South Africa's Central Bank Greenlights Financial Institutions to Serve Crypto Clients

The bank warned against the "wholesale" banning of customers who have digital assets.

AccessTimeIconAug 19, 2022 at 12:13 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:56 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

South African financial institutions will now be allowed to deal with funds linked to digital assets and shouldn't indiscriminately block all crypto clients, the country's central bank said.

Banks in the country "may act as a conduit for funds" tied to crypto asset service providers and "may play a role in customers wishing to purchase" or "receive payouts in fiat currency" in their bank accounts for the sale of crypto, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said in new guidelines published this week.

The guidance was released after some local banks previously moved to shut down accounts tied to crypto exchanges, citing exposures to risk. In the published document, the SARB said it was aware that certain banks in the country have blocked clients with links to crypto. It added that although thorough risk assessment is necessary, the "wholesale termination of client relationships" poses a threat to financial integrity.

"Risk assessment does not necessarily imply that institutions should seek to avoid risk entirely," the SARB said.

In June 2021, some banks in South Africa also blocked customers from using their credit and debit cards to purchase crypto on foreign exchanges, while the central bank warned existing regulations didn't allow "for cross-border or foreign exchange transfers for the explicit purpose of purchasing crypto assets."

South Africans, however, are allowed to use their annual "single discretionary allowance" of up to 1 million South African rand (about $59,000) or foreign capital allowance of up to 10 million rand ($580,000) to buy crypto.


Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.

Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.