This article was contributed to TechCabal by Conrad Onyango via bird story agency.

South Africa is witnessing an expansion in cryptocurrency offerings as the country gets closer to issuing its first operational licences to financial service providers. 

Payment firms and fintech companies are driving the move, with commercial banks expected to follow suit. 

One of the latest offerings enables users to purchase goods and services using cryptocurrency, while another allows them to withdraw digital currency as cash from automated teller machines. 

Stitch, a South African payments infrastructure company, has launched a new payment method called “Pay with Crypto,” which allows customers to use cryptocurrency directly when purchasing goods and services in South African rand. 

Customers using ‘Pay with Crypto’ have the choice to make a deposit or check out using cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrency adoption in South Africa has been one of the highest in the world. There’s a massive audience that would prefer to use their crypto to make payments,” said  Stitch president Junaid Dadan.

“We’re excited to offer Stitch clients an opportunity to reach and serve this audience, without the need to take on direct volatility risk, thanks to our ‘Pay with Crypto’ method,” Dadan added, 

Another fintech company based in South Africa, Paycorp, has launched an app called CryptoExpress that enables users to withdraw their cryptocurrency as cash in South African rands, at over 3,000 ATMs across the country. 

The app is seamlessly integrated with multiple cryptocurrency wallets, and withdrawals can be made at Cash Express ATMs operated by Paycorp subsidiary and ATM Solutions. 

According to a statement released by Paycorp, to withdraw cash, users need to convert their cryptocurrency from any crypto wallet through the app, authorise the transaction in their crypto wallet, and receive a withdrawal voucher PIN generated by CryptoExpress.

“Paycorp remains committed to advancing financial inclusion in South Africa. The introduction of the CryptoExpress app, facilitating cardless withdrawals from crypto wallets at Cash Express ATMs, coupled with our Smart ATM rollout, which combines drop safe and ATM functions, underscores this unwavering commitment,” said Paycorp Group CEO Steven Kark. 

Payout in local currency is available for Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Tether.

In early December, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) of South Africa announced that it had completed assessments of 36 firms out of the 74 that had been under consideration. These 36 firms are to be presented at the Licensing Executive Committee meeting. Another 22 applications will be presented on February 13, while the remaining 14 will have to wait until March 12. 

As of November 30, 2023, the FSCA had received a total of 128 applications for crypto asset service provider licenses. As part of new regulations, South Africa will require crypto companies with foreign headquarters to have a local office. 

“For the 10% of entities that have an off-shore head office, consideration will need to be given to the requirements relating to having a local branch. This is important because it, amongst other things, creates a physical presence that would allow the FSCA to have appropriate oversight over and ensure accountability of the institution conducting activities in South Africa,” the regulator said in a recently launched Crypto Assets Market Study.

According to the FSCA, only a small proportion of Crypto Asset FSPs operating in South Africa have their head offices in foreign countries. 

The Crypto Assets Market Study drawn from 47 Crypto financial service providers showed that more than half of the Crypto Asset FSPs have built their businesses around retail customers, with crypto exchanges (49%) being the most common business. 

The highest monthly transaction value on the South African cryptocurrency market was recorded in November 2022, when it peaked at over 8 billion rand ($427 million). 

Foreign-based cryptocurrency firms are also expanding their services in Africa, starting with countries with the highest cryptocurrency adoption rates, combined with progressive regulation.

Dubai-based investment platform, The Open Platform (TOP) in November announced the global rollout of Wallet, a third-party Telegram bot allowing users to buy and sell crypto. 

The rollout targets South Africa and Kenya in 2023 with plans to launch in Nigeria in the first quarter of 2024, to capitalize on a huge Telegram user base and high crypto adoption numbers in these markets.

Kenya is also on the path to regulating cryptocurrency transactions after recently introducing a bill defining crypto assets as securities and imposing capital gains tax on them. 

The Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill of 2023, amending the country’s tax code to impose taxes on cryptocurrency assets stored on crypto exchanges and digital wallets, made it through a Kenyan parliamentary committee in early December.

Kenyans will pay capital gains tax on increased cryptocurrency market value when they sell or use it in a transaction. The bill also proposes deducting a 20% excise duty on all commissions and fees charged on transactions.

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