South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has rejected a request by the asset management firm, Sygnia, to list a new bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). In justifying its rejection of the latest proposal by Sygnia, the JSE cites the “lack of a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies as the reason.”
Meanwhile, a report suggests that while Sygnia was not expecting “an immediate acceptance of the bitcoin ETF”, company executives still did not anticipate such “a quick rejection.” Instead, in her reaction to the JSE’s decision, Sygnia founder and executive chairman Magda Wierzycka said:
We expected the JSE to put in it ‘file 13’ and if and when they were ready that Sygnia would be the first in the queue.
In addition, Wierzycka says the bitcoin ETF “would have attracted attention, and in turn money, to the JSE.” In the meantime, the same report reveals that this is the second time the JSE has rejected a similar application by Sygnia. In 2017, Sygnia unsuccessfully tried to list the world’s first cryptocurrency ETF on the JSE. At the time, a former executive with the exchange, John Burke, suggested the JSE “was not ready to approve cryptocurrency listings.”
In a different report, Wierzycka is quoted expressing her belief in bitcoin’s staying power. She also discusses how the crypto asset’s price has been manipulated by “one very powerful and influential individual.” She said:
The volatility we have seen is a—clearly unexpected—function of what I would call market manipulation by Elon Musk. If that happens to a listed company he would be investigated and severely sanctioned by the SEC.
Meanwhile, following the South African Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG)’s release of a new position paper on cryptocurrencies, it is now unclear if the JSE’s rejection of the bitcoin ETF is going to stand. In a new position paper on cryptocurrencies (which published just after the JSE rejection of the ETF proposal) the IFWG recommends the regulation of the crypto ecosystem.
If accepted, the IFWG recommendations will see South Africa becoming one of the first countries in Africa to regulate cryptocurrencies. Regulation of cryptocurrencies, in turn, will likely force the JSE into revisiting its decision to reject Sygnia’s request.
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