Crypto banks

Crypto banks: Canada joins the U.S. and European authorities in explaining how its supervised entities can engage with crypto.

Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the nation’s primary bank and insurance company regulator, directed entities under its supervision to limit how much exposure they have to cryptocurrencies under interim guidance published Thursday.

According to the guidance, OSFI categorizes cryptos as either Group 1 or Group 2 assets. Group 1 represents traditional assets that confer rights and obligations. Anything else is a Group 2 asset. Regulated entities need to notify OSFI if their total gross positions exceed 1% of their capital and if their total net short positions exceed 0.1% of their capital.

South Africa’s Central Bank Greenlights Financial Institutions to Serve Crypto Clients

“The scope of this advisory is limited to the capital and liquidity treatment of an FRFI’s exposures to crypto assets. The advisory does not address other issues, including whether an FRFI is permitted under the Bank Act, Insurance Companies Act, or Trust and Loan Companies Act to issue any particular crypto asset, or to acquire or hold a controlling or substantial investment in entities that engage in this activity,” the guidance said. “This advisory sets out OSFI’s expectations as to when FRFIs should notify their lead supervisor if they intend to have exposures to crypto assets.”

If an entity does want to conduct other crypto-related activities, it needs to contact its supervisor at OSFI and share information as needed, the regulator said.

Thursday’s publication marks the first major federal crypto rules for banks issued by a Canadian regulator. It comes the same week the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank published similar guidance for regulated entities under their respective purviews.

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Like the OSFI’s guidance, the Fed and the ECB both directed supervised entities to notify the regulators in writing if the banks wished to engage with crypto.

South African financial institutions will now be allowed to deal with funds linked to digital assets and shouldn’t indiscriminately block all crypto clients, the country’s central bank said.

Banks in the country “may act as a conduit for funds” tied to crypto asset service providers and “may play a role in customers wishing to purchase” or “receive payouts in fiat currency” in their bank accounts for the sale of crypto, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said in new guidelines published this week.

South African Reserve Bank encourages friendly behavior with crypto

The guidance was released after some local banks previously moved to shut down accounts tied to crypto exchanges, citing risk exposures. In the published document, the SARB said it was aware that certain banks in the country have blocked clients with links to crypto. It added that although thorough risk assessment is necessary, the “wholesale termination of client relationships” poses a threat to financial integrity.

“Risk assessment does not necessarily imply that institutions should seek to avoid risk entirely,” the SARB said.

In June 2021, some banks in South Africa also blocked customers from using their credit and debit cards to purchase crypto on foreign exchanges, while the central bank warned existing regulations didn’t allow “for cross-border or foreign exchange transfers for the explicit purpose of purchasing crypto assets.”

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