Tag: crypto

By James Preston for SA Crypto

SA Crypto’s chat channels were abuzz last night as MyBroadBand released an article reporting on a big decision by FNB: The bank announced that they will be shutting down all bank accounts related to cryptocurrency businesses. This includes large exchanges such as Luno, VALR, AltCoinTrader, iCE3X among others. The closures will be effective from end of March 2020.

The news stirred numerous conversation on the groups as users were stunned at the shortsighted move by what is seen as a progressive bank. First it was on Telegram where a user shared the article, were immediately the response was a negative one.

30 minutes later, SA Crypto’s primary Whatsapp group began fluttering with chatter around the subject.

The conversation continued for some time, with very little positive outlook. The reasonable users among the group objectively hoped that such a move by FNB would be an isolated one, a perspective reaffirmed by VALR CEO, Farzam Ehsani.

Ehsani weighed in on the conversation on both Telegram and WhatsApp, eventually stating that he would do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on his Twitter profile to discuss his viewpoint as the CEO of a major cryptocurrency in South Africa. Especially considering his previous role as “Head of Blockchain” at Rand Merchant Bank, a sister division to FNB.

After some interesting perspective from SA Crypto users, including a Bitcoin “Over The Counter” broker, Ehsani announced his AMA.

In addition to his AMA, Ehsani shared a public statement to all VALR users assuring them of their continued positive relationship with other banks in South Africa, and such a move by FNB wouldn’t adversely affect operations.

Meanwhile, Luno have released an official statement on their website, along with FAQs around how the move by FNB could impact existing Luno customers. The statement confirms that Luno is affected by FNB’s decision, as they anticipate their FNB business bank account being closed in the second quarter of 2020.

SA Crypto was alerted to this news on a recent visit to the AltCoinTrader offices, where one of the executives revealed they had just come back from a meeting with their relationship manager at FNB. The manager disclosed to AltCoinTrader that FNB was planning the closure, stating that FNB’s executive committee were considering its risk appetite, and deemed “virtual currencies” as too unclear from a regulatory perspective and thus were going to announce the discontinuation of banking support.

At the time, SA Crypto was unable to confirm the news, with it now being officially made clear in a letter from FNB.

Both iCE3X and Luno have responded to the FNB announcement, stating that, like VALR, they have good relationships with a number of other primary banks in the country, and deposits and withdrawals will be able to continue as normal, with FNB bank details requiring a change. Eugéne Etsebeth, COO at iCE3X, confirmed on Twitter this morning that clients would be unaffected by FNB’s announcement.

The move does raise some concerns for cryptocurrency users in South Africa, as it opens the door for other banks to question their relationships with cryptoasset companies. It would be extremely surprising however to see these banks follow suit, as the revenue generated from banking fees with these companies must be considerable, although the fact that FNB are willing to sacrifice such revenue is worrying to say the least.

FNB have stated they are open to reversing this decision should South African regulators provide further clarity on virtual currencies.

The news comes in conjunction with equally stunning news from RMB Holdings, who announced last night that they will be selling off R130 billion worth of First Rand shares in a major portfolio restructuring move. The figure is the total sum of the full 34% stake RMBH has in First Rand Limited, the company that operates FNB.

In reaction to the announcement, former FNB CEO Michael Jordan took to Twitter to share his surprise.

The RMB Holdings statement did not give a reason for the unbundling of the First Rand shares, but said there would be a detailed explanation before the end of the first quarter 2020.

It is strangely coincidental that the announcement comes on the same day First Rand-owned FNB announce their distancing from cryptoasset companies. And while it would be irresponsible to jump to conclusions, the gravity of both of these announcements makes it difficult not to.

SA is most crypto-friendly country in Africa

By David Kariuki for Cryptomorrow 

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.

A Bitcoin ATM in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. Credit: LinkedIn

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.

Source: Forbes

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.

R552bn wiped off cryptocurrencies after hack

By Eric Lam, Jiyeun Lee and Jordan Robertson for Bloomberg / Fin24 

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. Read about Trusted Brokerz and start capitalizing on Bitcoin to make virtual currencies part of your portfolio.

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.

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