French banking group BNB Paribas and IT company Capgemini has released a report stating that South Africa is Africa’s most crypto-friendly country having allowed cryptocurrency payments, trades and investments to flourish almost without restrictions.
The country is also leading in Africa with regard to crypto regulation, adoption and development, which is not a surprise because the country leads in many areas and is Africa’s most sophisticated economy. For instance, it hosts a number of bitcoin ATMs and digital currency exchanges – including Luno. Luno has more than two million customers around the world and allows people to buy crypto using Rand fiat.
In South Africa, the scenario is developing favorably for cryptocurrency industry because of the open-mindedness of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). The bank does not recognise crypto as legal tender but also has not banned or prevented trades related to cryptocurrrencies. The bank announced in April that it would create guidelines for cryptocurrency markets in the country. It has also tested an inter-bank settlement system called Project Kohka, which hopes to use the Ethereum blockchain in order to speed up payments.
Also, in South Africa, a number of companies including banks are starting to set up operations relating to cryptocurrencies. Baclays Bank has also said that it will host a number of events to help audience understand benefits and risks of cryptocurrencies.
As virtual currencies plumbed new depths on Wednesday, the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index extended its collapse from a January high to 80%. The tumble has now surpassed the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 78% peak-to-trough decline after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000.
Like their predecessors during the Internet stock boom almost two decades ago, cryptocurrency investors who bet big on a seemingly revolutionary technology are suffering a painful reality check.
The virtual-currency mania of 2017 — fueled by hopes that Bitcoin would become “digital gold” and that blockchain-powered tokens would reshape industries from finance to food — has quickly given way to concerns about excessive hype, security flaws, market manipulation, tighter regulation and slower-than-anticipated adoption by Wall Street.
Crypto bulls dismiss negative comparisons to the dot-com era by pointing to the Nasdaq’s recovery to fresh highs 15 years later, and to the Internet’s massive impact on society. They also note that Bitcoin has rebounded from past crashes of similar magnitude.
But even if the optimists prove right and cryptocurrencies eventually transform the world, this year’s selloff has underscored that progress is unlikely to be smooth.
The 2018 selloff in cryptocurrencies deepened, wiping out about $42bn (about R552bn) of market value over the weekend and extending this year’s slump in Bitcoin to more than 50%.
Some observers pinned the latest retreat on an exchange hack in South Korea, while others pointed to lingering concern over a clampdown on trading platforms in China. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.
Bitcoin has dropped about 12% since 5 pm New York time on Friday and was trading at $6v756, bringing its decline this year to 53%.
Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a nearly two-month low of $298bn. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about $830 billion.
Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the nearly $500m theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. While the latest hacking target – a South Korean venue called Coinrail – is much smaller, the news triggered knee-jerk selling, according to Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda in Singapore.
“This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” Innes said.
A cryptocurrency slump
The slump may have been exacerbated by low market liquidity during the weekend, Innes added.
“The markets are so thinly traded, primarily by retail accounts, that these guys can get really scared out of positions,” he said. “It actually doesn’t take a lot of money to move the market significantly.”
Coinrail said in a statement on its website that some of the exchange’s digital currency appears to have been stolen by hackers, but it didn’t disclose how much. The venue added that 70% of the cryptocurrencies it holds are being kept safely in a cold wallet, which isn’t connected to the Internet and is less vulnerable to theft. Two-thirds of the stolen assets – which the exchange identified as NPXS, NPER and ATX coins – have been frozen or collected, while the remaining one third is being examined by investigators, other exchanges and cryptocurrency development companies, it said.
Coinrail trades more than 50 cryptocurrencies and was among the world’s Top 100 most active venues, with a 24-hour volume of about $2.65 million, according to data compiled by Coinmarketcap.com before news of the hack.
The Korean National Police Agency is investigating the case, an official said by phone.
In China, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily reported on Friday that the country will continue to crack down on illegal fundraising and risks linked to Internet finance, quoting central bank officials. The nation’s cleanup of initial coin offerings and Bitcoin exchanges has almost been completed, the newspaper said, citing Sun Hui, an official at the Shanghai branch of the central bank.