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Teething Problems with Crypto Currencies Cause SA to Discontinue

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency scam of last year was a jolt to South Africa’s regulator — and not everyone will wait to see how it shakes out. As major financial hubs like Singapore redraw legislation to lure crypto firms and with the U.K. government facing calls to embrace digital currencies, South Africa’s burgeoning exchanges say they are having to move headquarters abroad due to uncertainty over potential government regulation. Behind the frustration is a lack of oversight and limits on marketing to potential customers. Revix, a Cape Town-based operator specializing in bundles of different coins, is shifting its head office to the U.K. and planning another location in Germany to fuel growth. Luno, Africa’s largest digital-currency platform, is registered in London and has a presence in Singapore. South African authorities “have been incredibly slow in terms of regulation in the industry and that leads to businesses looking internationally,” Revix Chief Executive Officer Sean Sanders said in an interview. “In an unregulated environment, a customer arrives at our platform with skepticism, and rightfully so.” South Africa may be frustrating its entrepreneurs, but it is seen as ahead of the rest of the continent, given regulators and industry are working together to table proposals. In Nigeria, plans to regulate the sector have been suspended until operators open bank accounts in the West African nation. The priority for South African regulators is to seek better protection for consumers rather than businesses, according to Brandon Topham, head of enforcement at the Finance Sector Conduct Authority of South Africa. Further proposals are expected in the next two months, he said. The top banks in South Africa have all backed regulatory efforts to develop a framework for crypto assets but are currently split in their approach to industry players.