The Financial Sector Conduct Authority on Wednesday issued two notices warning against dealing with Bahamas-headquartered FTX and Seychelles-based ByBit. It said the companies aren’t authorized to give financial advice or intermediary services in South Africa.
ByBit has been offering South Africans access to its online platform to trade in derivative instruments and FTX might be doing the same, the regulator said in a statement.
For FTX to offer contracts for difference or CFD trading in South Africa, “it must be licensed to do so by the regulator,” the FSCA said.
The warnings come as South Africa scrambles to introduce new regulations for the crypto industry following two of the world’s largest fraud cases that originated from the country, with billions of dollars worth of Bitcoin allegedly lost. The proposed rules this year will give guidelines on how South Africans can interact with crypto exchanges.
FTX reached out to the regulator today, the company’s chief executive officer, Sam Bankman-Fried, said in a tweet Wednesday. “We are not aware of any outreach from the FSCA but would be excited to engage.”
A spokesperson at ByBit said the company “has been in correspondence with the FSCA and will continue to engage in productive dialogues with the intent to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all those involved.”
Earlier, the FSCA said attempts to contact FTX on the matter were unsuccessful, although ByBit responded by indicating their willingness to apply for authorization to provide financial advisory and intermediary services.
Digital currencies have moved from the periphery of the finance world to the mainstream over the past few years, leading to deeper scrutiny. In Africa, the cryptocurrency market grew 1,200% to more than $105 billion between July 2020 and June 2021, according to research provider Chainalysis.
South Africa is looking into establishing rules on trading in coins such as Ethereum, XRP and Litecoin, FSCA Commissioner Unathi Kamlana told Bloomberg in a previous interview. Authorities will also examine how cryptocurrencies interact with traditional financial products, the risks to banks and whether they threaten fiscal stability.
— With assistance by Yueqi Yang. Read full story on Bloomberg