Most companies that offer crypto-related services in the form of a crypto exchange, advice, brokerage services, and custodial services make less than R50 million in revenue a year. Only 5% make over R150 million.
This was revealed in the Financial Service Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) Crypto Assets Market Study, conducted throughout 2022 and published last year.
The study revealed that over 5.8 million South Africans own crypto assets, with unbacked assets such as Bitcoin being the most popular.
“It will place us in a position where we know how we could respond in terms of our regulatory frameworks, licencing of products, and supervision,” said the head of the regulator’s fintech division, Awelani Rahulani.
In October 2022, the FSCA declared cryptocurrencies a financial product, allowing crypto trading platforms to become licenced and placing them under its regulatory purview.
Rahulani emphasised that the crypto trading industry is still small compared to the traditional finance sector.
The study revealed just how small the sector is, with 38% of annual revenue from crypto asset financial service providers generating less than R1 million in revenue a year.
Nearly half of all companies that offer crypto-related services generate revenue between R1 million and R50 million.
Only 16% earn more than R50 million in total annual revenue.
The majority of these companies’ revenue comes from the collection of trading fees from individuals buying and selling crypto assets on their platform. Some also charge administration fees and advisory fees.
Of concern for crypto service providers is that the value of crypto assets traded monthly in South Africa was stagnant across the entirety of 2022 when the study was done.
While the sector is still small compared to the traditional financial sector and is not growing as fast as hoped, does not mean that the industry does not pose a risk to financial stability.
Rahulani explained that as crypto products are used by ordinary South Africans who also engage with the broader economy and traditional finance sector, it poses a threat to the economy and financial sector if not properly regulated.
“This has put us in a position whereby we have to put measures into place to make sure that we are about to regulate and monitor this space very closely,” Rahulani said.
“There has been a movement away from a ‘wait and see’ approach to more active regulation. We plan on regulating the space.”
Following the study revealing the relatively widespread adoption of crypto in South Africa, the FSCA has almost been forced to act.
“It will place us in a position where we know how we could respond in terms of our regulatory frameworks, licencing of products, and supervision,” Rahulani said.
“We are monitoring the sector very closely and definitely have the enforcement within the organisation.”