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South Africa’s Standard Bank prefers to be a fast follower on crypto

standard bank

Last week Standard Bank South Africa’s CEO Lungisa Fuzile outlined a cautious approach to cryptocurrency, speaking to Bloomberg.

“We move with the world, but you don’t want to be the leaders on some of these things,” said Fuzile. “You want to be fast followers.” He added, “We manage our explorations carefully.”

That may be a sign of the times with the crypto winter because Standard has been a leader in the past. In 2021 it joined the governing council of the public Hedera DLT which has its own crypto token HBAR. We suspect this was the first bank in the world to participate in the governance of a public blockchain. 

Given the timing – the price then was around 13 cents and is now five cents – it would have taken a hit on its token holdings, although the figures are likely immaterial for a bank. While joining a public DLT might appear risky, the other governing council members at the time included Google, IBM, Nomura and FIS/Worldpay amongst other big names. However, Standard was the first bank. 

That year it participated in a cross border stablecoin trial with Korea’s Shinhan Bank which joined Hedera a couple of months after the South African bank. Shinhan recently completed another stablecoin trial that included a Taiwanese bank and a subsidiary of Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank, but Standard Bank was not mentioned.

Meanwhile, Fuzile’s boss, group CEO Sim Tshabalala, recently discussed central bank digital currency. He voiced concerns about competing with the central bank.

The bank has also been involved in several blockchain-based trade finance platforms including with China’s ICBC bank (a major shareholder) and Contour. It was also a participant in the defunct Marco Polo platform.

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