As the Bitcoin boom has swept the world, South Africa hasn’t been left behind. Thanks to the swell of interest in digital currencies over the last few years, the number of South African exchanges has increased dramatically. Today, regardless of how experienced you are, you can buy, trade and exchange Bitcoin and all manner of different cryptocurrencies from the comfort of your own home. In this guide, we’re going to show you five of the best Bitcoin exchanges in South Africa. Not only that, but we'll give you some insights into what makes the market tick.
Instead of using what can be described as a “hardcore” crypto exchange to invest in Bitcoin, we’d suggest taking a look at eToro using our secure link. Why? Well, the reason we’re so hot on this site is that it was a prominent platform long before the cryptocurrency craze. In fact, the platform went live in 2006 which is a full three years before Bitcoin was even invented. Because of its established position in the trading world, eToro offers a much slicker service than its peers.
Indeed, when you check out our eToro review, you’ll notice that the site offers markets on everything from commodities to forex. Off the back of Bitcoin’s increase in popularity, eToro has added it to the mix and made it a tradeable asset. This means that you’re not purchasing coins when you make a trade. Instead, you’re speculating on the price movement of the asset. This system allows transactions to happen a lot faster.
What’s more, because eToro is a social trading platform, you can join the action with a limited amount of knowledge. After you’ve created an account, you can browse through a list of traders, review their credentials and then follow them (as you would on Facebook). Once said trader makes a move, the software will automatically apply the same trade (but at your own stakes) to your account. Although you should have some knowledge of how to trade Bitcoin before you sign up, you certainly don’t have to be an expert, which is why eToro is a great choice for newbies.
- Well-established trading site
- Swift transactions
- Follow expert traders and copy their movements
- Chat about the markets online
- Fully regulated CySEC site
- Deposit is in USD and at least $50
- Withdrawal fees somewhat high
Currently boasting a four-star rating according to our Coinmama review, this site has become a great option for mid-to-high-volume traders since it launched in 2013. Unlike many of the leading exchanges in South Africa, Coinmama is truly global platform. At the last count, the company served more than 180 countries, which is more than Coinbase and Bitstamp.
What’s also interesting about this crypto exchange is that it accepts cash payments. In addition to credit and debit card transactions, you can send money to the site using Western Union. Although this does mean your deposit will take longer, it’s a fantastic way for those that value their anonymity to make a payment.
The other reason it’s worth joining Coinmama is that new users have a daily buying limit of $50,000. Compared any other South African Bitcoin exchange, that’s an extremely generous limit. In fact, it essentially means that everyone can create an account at Coinmama and start trading like a pro without having to go through any lengthy validation processes.
- Active in 180+ countries
- Allows for cash deposits with Western Union
- Transactions complete in minutes
- Fees can be high (up to 12%)
- Can only buy via the exchange, you can’t sell your coins
Dealing with a faceless corporation can often be off-putting, especially when money is involved. In the burgeoning world of cryptocurrency trading, it’s usually the case that exchanges in South Africa aren’t very personal. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. As we’ve noted in our LocalBitcoins.com review, you can deal directly with a real person if that’s your preference.
At LocalBitcoins, you can register as a buyer and/or seller. Once you’ve done this, you can scroll through a list of options and find someone in your local area to do business with. At this point, it’s up to you how you want to proceed. If you want to send money via a bank transfer, you can. If you want to pay someone face-to-face using cash, that’s also possible. Because you’re dealing with people and not a business, you get to decide how things go down.
- Find people in your local area
- Pay with cash if you wish
- It’s possible to find better exchange rates
- Some sellers may offer bad rates
- Is one of the few Bitcoin-only exchanges
Like eToro, 24 Option was founded before Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin’s white paper. As you’d expect, this gives the site a certain amount of legitimacy and credibility. However, the thing we’ve noted as a stand-out feature in our 24 Option overview is its focus on education. Because the company deals with a variety of tradable assets, including Bitcoin, it has created an environment where users can learn more about the investment process.
When you use 24 Option, you’ll get access to beginner guides, daily reports and analysis of the latest financial trends. At 24 Option, you’ve got everything under one virtual roof, something we feel makes it one of the leading Bitcoin exchanges in South Africa.
- Can trade using ZAR
- Well-established reputation
- Learn as well as trade
- Minimum deposit is $250 with credit/debit cards
- Fees applied to payments and trades
To find out why Shapeshift is slightly different from other Bitcoin exchanges in South Africa, you should check out our review. In short this platform acts as a bridge between you and the major exchanges. In other words, Shapeshift is the middleman that takes your cash, finds some Bitcoins and then converts them for you.
In fact, if you visit Shapeshift, you’ll see that the homepage breaks down the conversion process into three simple steps:
- Choose the crypto coin you want to purchase
- Input your cryptocurrency wallet address
- Make a payment and wait
If you want to use Shapeshift to buy Bitcoins in South Africa, you will need a wallet. Our guide to cryptocurrency wallets should help get you started. From there, you can write down your receiving address and use the steps above to convert one cryptocurrency into another.
- Simple interface
- Swift transactions
- Low fees
- Can only use digital currencies
- Rates might not always be the best
As of June 2018, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) doesn’t, in its own words, “oversee, supervise or regulate Virtual Currencies/Crypto-currencies (VCs)" currently, but is continuing its effort to monitor this area as it evolves. In 2014, SARB published a paper setting out its position on Bitcoin, altcoins and the VC market as a whole. This remains the definitive document for consumers and cryptocurrency exchanges in South Africa.
The main message SARB conveyed in its paper is that it doesn’t recognise VCs as legal tender and it doesn’t approve any exchange transactions. However, this does not mean they’re illegal. Instead, what it means is that SARB doesn’t currently have a regulatory interest in purchases and trading transactions. Therefore, merchants are free to accept crypto payments and investors can buy, own and trade Bitcoin if they wish. Everything an individual does, however, is at their own risk and won’t be supported by any financial rules. Essentially, you’re free to do as you please when it comes to exchanges in South Africa.
Naturally, this means you need to practice a certain amount of vigilance. Because you haven’t got an official body casting a critical eye over the industry, it’s important to be wary of smaller exchanges and trading platforms. As you’ll see if you read our eToro review, the company is an international operation. This means its compliant with rules and regulations in other countries. The upshot of this is that it runs a much tighter ship. Therefore, if you want to ensure you receive a reliable and secure service, it’s better to choose a site such as eToro because you know it has met certain standards in other countries.
If you're wondering how other countries regulate Bitcoin exchanges, take a look at our guides below:
Given that the SA authorities don’t currently have any legal or regulatory power over digital currencies, the only restrictions you’ll have on payment options is by the processor themselves. If you've have read through our South African Bitcoin exchange reviews, you’ll already know that this means the world is virtually your oyster. As it stands, very few of the major payment providers have put a block on cryptocurrency payments. Although certain credit card companies in the UK and US have sidestepped the industry, the general consensus is that Bitcoin and altcoin purchases are OK.
With this being the case, you can buy Bitcoin in South Africa using the following methods:
- Credit/debit card
- e-wallets (PayPal, WebMoney etc)
- Bank transfer
- Altcoins (other cryptocurrencies)
From our list of top-rated exchanges in South Africa, all of the above options are available. Whether it’s PayPal payments at eToro or direct cash payments through LocalBitcoins.com, you can pay and trade in a way that suits you.
In our opinion, eToro is leading the way when it comes to the best Bitcoin exchanges in South Africa. Because it contains the best bits of the traditional trading world as well as a new focus on the crypto market, the service you receive is fantastic. What’s more, with swift transactions, regulatory oversight and a variety of ways to pay, it’s by far the most user-friendly of all the exchanges in South Africa. For all these reasons, we’d suggest taking a look at eToro.
Yes. Because there aren’t any regulations in place, anyone of legal age can buy Bitcoins in South Africa.
As we’ve noted, four US banks have blocked credit card payments. If you don’t bank with one of these companies, you should be OK.
Yes. Because SARB hasn’t taken a firm position on the industry, you’re free to use whatever payment method an exchange will accept.
Yes. Each platform will have its own fees.
If you use a brokerage such as eToro, the transactions will be almost instant. With other exchanges in South Africa such as Coinmama, you may have to wait a few days for withdrawals to complete. That's just one of the reasons why we recommend eToro.
Yes. Despite the lack of official regulation in SA, our top picks are international brands with positive reputations. If you stick with these, you shouldn’t have any issues.