Cryptocurrency: Towards Regulating the Unruly Enigma of Fintech in Nigeria and South Africa




Cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies, digital assets, fintech, blockchain, regulation


One of the most modern inventions of financial technology (FinTech) since after the global financial crisis of 2008 is the crypto or virtual currency/asset. Since the creation of the first cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin, in 2009, it is estimated that over five thousand variants of the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have emerged. Virtual currencies have become widespread across the globe but their legal status and uses in various countries have remained uncertain. They have been variously classified as currencies, securities, properties, assets, commodities and tokens, and used as means of exchange but are not legally recognised as legal tender. In many jurisdictions their emergence was greeted with scepticism and express or tacit rejection by financial and securities markets regulators, but over time, owing to their increasing popularity, characteristics, positive and negative potentials, there has been a gradual shift towards their formal recognition and regulation. Regulatory authorities in many countries are now grappling with designing appropriate policy and regulatory framework for the crypto phenomenon. This paper interrogates the current legal status and efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies in two leading African nations, Nigeria and South Africa, and highlights the challenges of designing an appropriate regulatory framework for this enigmatic technology. The paper adopts the doctrinal legal research methodology, employing the descriptive, analytical, and comparative approaches. It follows a structured review and analysis of relevant extant legislation on currencies and securities in the countries to ascertain whether they cover cryptocurrencies. It then compares the current position of the law on the subject in the two countries. Bearing in mind that it may not be possible to totally ban dealing in cryptocurrencies, the paper concludes that regulation has become imperative. Drawing from the position on the subject in more developed nations, the United States of America (US) and the European Union (EU), this paper proposes a model of regulation of virtual currency not only for Nigeria and South Africa but also for other African countries.


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20-08-2021 — Updated on 24-08-2021


How to Cite

Ukwueze, F. (2021). Cryptocurrency: Towards Regulating the Unruly Enigma of Fintech in Nigeria and South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 24, 1–38. (Original work published August 20, 2021)



Special Edition: Corporate and Financial Markets 2021

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