South Africa Starts Issuing Crypto Licenses With Luno, Zignaly Among First Recipients

Regulators in the country have said they plan to authorize up to 60 digital asset firms by April.

AccessTimeIconApr 11, 2024 at 10:10 a.m. UTC
Updated Apr 11, 2024 at 12:56 p.m. UTC
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  • South Africa has started licensing crypto firms, and Luno and Zignaly are among the first batch of companies to receive regulatory approval.
  • Regulators in the country have said around 60 firms are set to receive approval by April.

South Africa’s financial regulator has started issuing crypto licenses, with exchange platform Luno and decentralized social investing marketplace Zignaly among the first batch of companies to receive approvals.

Luno shared that it had received approval as a financial service provider under the country's Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, 2002 (FAIS). Luno PTY LTD now appears on FSCA's registry of authorized entities.

Zignaly told CoinDesk that it had received a Category 2 - Discretionary Financial Service Provider (FSP) license and appears in the FSCA registry as Merritt Administrators PTY LTD.

The South African regulator started accepting licensing applications from crypto firms in June 2023 after legislation was passed to bring crypto into the scope of regulated financial activities in the country. The FSCA has promised hefty fines for companies that try to operate without obtaining the right approvals.

Around 60 firms are expected to be approved by the regulator in the short term.

“This is a positive step for both the cryptocurrency industry and South Africans. Compliance, safety and security for our customers have driven our growth since the beginning and will continue to be priorities as we expand our offering to introduce more features and products for financial institutions,” Christo de Wit, Luno’s country manager for South Africa, said in the statement.

Zignaly's Category 2 license will allow the company to conduct discretionary fund management, "where Zignaly is authorized to make investment decisions on behalf of investors, and very importantly – may act as a custodian of funds for its clients,” the company said in a press statement. “It is essentially a full asset management license, comparable to what TradFi behemoths like Blackrock or Vanguard have at their disposal.”

Zignaly says the license will also help it “preempt the likely extension” of regulations to decentralized finance. In 2022, the company signed a $50 million financing deal with a Luxembourg fund.

UPDATE (April 11, 12:05 UTC): Adds that Zignaly received a license to headline and body.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Sandali Handagama

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

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