Editor’s Note: When this story first broke, Global Crypto reached out to FNB and their CEO Jacques Celliers to confirm his comments, and posed the following questions in request for this confirmation:
1. You mentioned exchange control obligations for one of the reasons for “unbanking” crypto related companies, would you be able to please disclose exactly what kind of obligations those are?
2. You mentioned a willingness to consider cryptocurrency as a product to be sold through your platforms / bank, if the demand should arise. Has FNB been actively monitoring the South African appetite for such a product?
3. Could you please disclose if FNB has been involved in any R&D for cryptocurrency exchange products through its platform?
Today, Tuesday 9 March, Global Crypto received a response from the bank stating that it is merely “monitoring the regulator progress surrounding virtual currencies.” Referring to the South African Reserve Bank’s position paper on “virtual currencies”, their full statement is as follows (SIC):
“As part of the banking industry, FNB continues to monitor the progress in creating a regulatory framework for Virtual Currency Exchanges.
The Bank further confirms that it does not hold crypto assets for its own account and any current banking relationships with providers of Virtual Currency Exchanges and/or intermediaries trading in Virtual Currency.
However, our individual customers are not prohibited from trading in Virtual Currency and we continue to exercise our responsibility to perform enhanced due diligence on these transactions.
FNB firmly supports the work of regulatory authorities in building a sustainable regulatory framework in South Africa and will continue to evaluate any developments in line with its risk appetite.
We also refer to SARB Position Paper on Virtual Currencies 2/2014.”
Prior to this response from FNB, the original story appeared as such:
FNB’s CEO Jacques Celliers has disclosed to South African Tech Outlet ITWeb that the bank is willing to consider embracing cryptocurrencies in the future, despite closing all banking services to crypto-related companies in 2019.
The interview came after the release of FNB’s financial results for the second half of 2020.
Celliers said in the interview that First National Bank is “not blind to the developments” in the cryptocurrency industry this year, especially considering Bitcoin’s rise to $50,000.
“We are not naïve to what is happening around the world,” the CEO told ITWeb. “New innovations are happening and people are investing, and the innovations that find themselves getting regulated will be taken seriously by us. We take a similar approach to the likes of Paypal.”
Citing the creation of eBucks in 2000, the world’s first bank-backed electronic currency, Celliers went on to say that FNB understood the digital future, but that they simply wanted a regulated framework to find its way to the national discourse.
The CEO further stated that FNB would be ready to supply cryptocurrency to their customers if there was sufficient demand, saying that such an offering would be no different to offering US Dollars and GB Pounds for exchange with the bank.
Returning to the closure of crypto-related bank accounts, Celliers seemed a little ambiguous, stating that FNB had exchange control obligations they needed to satisfy, and that crypto related accounts made it difficult to satisfy such obligations.