Standard Bank watching crypto developments

Africa’s biggest bank is watching developments in crypto currencies but isn’t jumping into the market.

“We move with the world, but you don’t want to be the leaders on some of these things,” Lungisa Fuzile, chief executive officer of Standard Bank’s South Africa business, told Jennifer Zabasajja Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “You want to be fast followers.”

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest lender by assets, will instead monitor the evolution of digital currencies while being mindful of the risks.

“We are very interested, we manage our explorations carefully, we do them with heightened interest when we collaborate with our regulators and other banks in the system to understand them better,” Fuzile said.

Most of South Africa’s lenders have so far declined to provide banking services to crypto platforms, citing risks and the lack of clear regulation for digital instruments in the country.

The South African Reserve Bank has set up working groups to study digital assets and encouraged lenders to provide banking services to crypto exchanges to give the regulator greater visibility into the sector.

Meanwhile, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority will require crypto exchanges in South Africa to get licenses by the end of the year, making Africa’s most developed economy the first on the continent to put crypto rules on its books.

According to Finders Cryptocurrency Adoption Index, more than one-in-ten South Africans own some sort of crypto coin.