Trump Tariffs Send Stocks Tumbling

The world’s major stock markets fell on Thursday as sentiment was rocked by new trade war fears as US President Donald Trump unveiled tariffs on Chinese imports of at least $50bn. Saying it would be the “first of many” trade actions, Trump signed the order that will also look at restrictions on Chinese investment in the US.

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Transnet Seals Deal With South32

Transnet yesterday signed a R10.4billion contract with resources group South32 that will see the state-owned freight rail and logistics company transport 2.6million tons of export manganese per annum over seven-and a-half years. Transnet said it planned to seal a number of similar contracts with other manganese producers to have 12.5million tons of manganese ultimately transported mainly from the Hotazel area in the Northern Cape through the Saldanha and Port Elizabeth ore railway lines each year.

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Naspars Sells 2% Of Tencent Shares

The group said on Thursday it would sell up to 190-million Tencent shares to institutional investors, thereby reducing its interest from 33.2% to 31.2%. That 2% stake was worth about $10.6bn (R125bn) on Thursday, close to the market capitalisation of Nedbank.

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Moody’s Ratings Decision Expected Today

By midnight on Friday South Africans should know whether Moody’s has downgraded SA’s sovereign credit rating to junk, or kept the country at above investment grade. Moody’s was the only major ratings agency to not downgrade South Africa to sub-investment grade in 2017. It currently has the country at one notch above junk.

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Uber Stops Autononous Taxi Testing After Crash

Uber Technologies halted autonomous vehicle tests after one of its cars struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona, in what is likely the first pedestrian fatality involving the technology. The 49-year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg, was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk when the Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode under the supervision of a human safety driver struck her, according to the Tempe Police Department.

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Send Or Receive Money Using Google Assistant

From today, you will be able to send and request money via Google Assistant on your smartphone. Available on both the Android and iOS versions of the Assistant app. Transactions will be handled by Google Pay, and if you’re not already signed up to the service, Assistant will walk you through the set up process before dealing with your request. The person you’re sending money too doesn’t need a Google Pay account to receive funds though.

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Currencies: Bcoin R103,420 . Ether R6,401 . R/USD11.85 . R/GBP16.72 . R/EUR14.61

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Ghordan And Nene Back In Reshuffle

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a compromise Cabinet to lead his government into the 2019 national election. Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan both make stunning comebacks as finance and public enterprise ministers respectively.

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Makhura To Ask For ETolls To Be Cancelled

Gauteng premier David Makhura says that he will engage President Cyril Ramaphosa on finding a “new and more equitable” funding model for e-tolls, which had added to the cost of living. Sanral collected about R65m in an average month, when it should be collecting about R200m to meet its obligations, highlighting the extent of e-toll resistance.

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DA To March Against VAT Increase

The Democratic Alliance will mobilise and march to the National Treasury to oppose the one percent increase in VAT, from 14 to 15%. “We want to march here in Tshwane, go to Treasury and say we reject the idea of an increase in VAT because it will make out people poor,” he said.

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Eskom State Capture Inquiry To Resume

The portfolio committee on public enterprises will hear evidence presented by G9 Consulting Services, which was commissioned by Eskom. This relates to Eskom’s contract with consultancy firms McKinsey and its partner in the contract, Trillian. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) found the contract to be invalid and the payments made unlawfully.

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Set Top Boxes Wont Be Encrypted

The Department of Communications has confirmed that state-sponsored set-top boxes will not be encrypted. This is despite a long-standing ANC policy position that supports encryption. Set-top boxes are needed to decode the digital signal for television sets that do not have digital capabilities. Conditional access and encryption is crucial for pay-TV broadcasters, as it allows them to control who has access to their content.

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China Cuts Presidential Term Limits

The Communist Party moved yesterday to strike presidential term limits from China’s constitution, the only formality keeping Xi Jinping, 64, from staying on after his second term ends in 2023. While speculation about Xi’s future had been growing since he declined to elevate an heir apparent in October, the change represents a surprising break from a succession system that has facilitated more than 30 years of peaceful power transfers.

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Currencies : Bcoin R123,699 . Ether R10,495 . R/USD11.58 . R /GBP16.16 . R/EUR14.27

Zuma Digs In His Heels

President Jacob Zuma has dug in his heels, telling the ANC to do as it pleases after it took a decision early on Tuesday morning to recall him. It is said that Jacob Zuma had agreed to resign but Zuma wanted to stay in office for 3 months as one of his conditions. It was rejected by the NEC. The ANC NEC is due to announce the outcomes of their meeting later today

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DA To Take Vrede Report On Judicial Review

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said it was taking the Public Protector’s report on the Vrede Dairy Farm project on judicial review, calling her findings a sham. Speaking in Cape Town, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said there were too many omissions from the report and said Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane even failed to probe what was already in the public domain.

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Taste Holdings Appoints New CEO

Taste, the JSE-listed holding group responsible for bringing US brands Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza to South Africa, have appointed a new chief executive, following the resignation of  co-founder, Carlo Gonzaga. Taste, which also has jewellery retailers Arthur Kaplan and NWJ in its stable, announced that Tyrone Moodley will change his function from non-executive director and be appointed to the Group CEO role effective 12 February 2018

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Unilever Threatens To Pull Facebook Ads

Unilever (UL), which owns brands like Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, warned on Monday that it would stop advertising on platforms that damage society by enabling the spread of fake news, sexism, racism, and extremism. The latest clash highlights the power imbalance in digital media. Brands and publishers are increasingly under the thumb of Facebook and Google, which offer unparalleled audiences in the billions and vast data troves on those users.

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Currencies : Bcoin R107,000 . Ether R10,512 . R/USD11.94 . R/GBP16.53 . R/EUR14.71

ANC NEC To Decide On Zuma Today

President Jacob Zuma’s fate is set to be sealed when the top leadership of the ruling African National Congress meets to conclude the transition to a new administration. The National Executive Committee will assemble on Monday in Pretoria. In his speech Ramaphosa said, “As you have all heard, the national executive committee of the African National Congress will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this very matter. Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the national executive committee will be doing precisely that”

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Christo Wiese Cuts Shareholding In Steinhoff

Christo Wiese, the former chair of Steinhoff International, has slashed his stake in the retailer to 6.2%. Wiese reduced his shares in Steinhoff, which is dealing with accounting irregularities, from 21%, according to a filing the billionaire made to the Netherlands’ Authority for the Financial Markets on Friday. The filing didn’t provide further details on the share disposal.

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Zimbabwe Wont Give Farmers Land Back

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday said the country will not return land seized from former white commercial farmers almost two decades ago. “It will never happen,” Mnangagwa said. “Our land must be productive. We must mechanise and modernise our agriculture,” he said, adding that the land reforms were “irreversible”

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Eskom Refuses To Reduce Staff Or Cut Salaries

Eskom has said that charity starts at home, which is why the pension fund for government employees and local banks must be used to bail it out. This is according to the Rapport newspaper. The utility also stated that staff cuts are not on the table in order to make its operations more sustainable. A World Bank study from August 2016 found that Eskom was overstaffed by 66%. At the time, Eskom had 41,800 employees – while it only needed 14,200.

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New Mandela Centenary Bank Notes

As the commemoration to mark the 28th anniversary of the release from prison of former president Nelson Mandela continued on Sunday, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has announced that it will issue a set of commemorative bank notes to honour the former statesman’s centenary. In addition, the South African Mint, a subsidiary of the SARB, will issue a new R5 circulation coin celebrating Mandela’s birth centenary.

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Bitcoin Bounces Back Over 50%

Bitcoin clawed its way back from the four-month low of $5,922 it touched on Tuesday, rebounding 53% to $9,069. The S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than 5% this week, wiping out gains for the year. Emerging markets stocks and currencies also plunged, while shorter maturity U.S. Treasuries climbed as investors fled from risky assets to safe-havens.

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Whatsapp Launches Peer To Peer Payments In India

WhatsApp first announced the feature in April 2017, the company finally took the leap and launched the peer-to-peer payments service in beta in India, one of its most important markets. WhatsApp has reportedly signed up a number of Indian banks to help bolster its payments service.

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Currencies: Bcoin R103,237 .  EthR10,306 . R/USD11.97 . R/GBP16.59 . R/EUR14.69

Mail & Guardian Sold To American Group

The Mail & Guardian has been acquired by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), which is now the majority shareholder of M&G Media Limited. As part of the same deal, current Chief Executive Officer Hoosain Karjieker becomes a minority shareholder. Trevor Ncube, the former publisher, has left the company. The MDIF is a New York-based non-profit organisation. Since its founding in 1996, it has invested $163-million in over 113 publications across 39 countries.

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Steinhoff Cost Investors Nearly R300 Billion

Concerns around financial irregularities at Steinhoff International have had a material impact on investors on the JSE. It’s not only Steinhoff’s share price that has suffered, but the share prices of a number of related companies as well. The most obvious is its subsidiary Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star). Investors have sold the share down as it appears that Star has guaranteed at least a portion of Steinhoff’s debt. The extent of these guarantees is however unclear. The impact has also spread to Shoprite, of which Steinhoff chairman Christo Wiese owns around 18.0%. Just days before Markus Jooste resigned as Steinhoff CEO, Star had announced that it had exercised call options to acquire a 23.1% economic stake and 50.6% voting control of Shoprite. The deal remains subject to regulatory approval. The Wiese connection appeared to put pressure on Brait, Stellar Capital, Tradehold and Invicta Holdings as well. He is closely associated with all of these companies.

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ANC Vote Buying Scandal Emerges

ANC presidential candidate Lindiwe Sisulu has become the latest high-ranking ANC leader to express her concern about the toxic effect that money could have on the ANC’s elective conference. On Tuesday, the ANC’s chief whip in Parliament, Jackson Mthembu, claimed in several tweets that regional secretaries in some provinces were trying to “allocate fraudulent delegates to branches that have failed to hold BGMs (branch general meetings)”.

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Job Losses Continue In SA

The jobs bloodbath continued in the third quarter, with more than 30,000 jobs lost, Statistics SA data showed on Tuesday. On the same day, manufacturing figures showed the sector performed better than had been expected. Mining production data released last week showed the sector was growing. Formal employment in SA, excluding the agricultural sector, fell by 31,000 jobs in the third quarter of 2017.

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Jooste Accused Of Manipulating Horse Betting

The National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa (NHA) has given former Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste 48 hours to respond to allegations that he is manipulating and controlling the horse industry in South Africa for his personal gain. The NHA said it wanted to give Jooste, who is heavily invested in horse racing in South Africa and abroad, a chance to explain himself. Chief executive Lyndon Barends said the NHA had already made contact with the group that represents Jooste in horse racing to respond to these allegations.

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Disney To Buy Fox For $60 Billion

Walt Disney is close to confirming a deal to buy 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for about $60bn, reports say. The sale would include the 20th Century Fox film studio and the Sky and Star satellite broadcasters in the UK, Europe and Asia. Disney was left as the front runner after Comcast, the NBC owner, dropped out of the race on Monday.

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Proposal For Meat Taxes

Some investors are betting governments around the world will find a way to start taxing meat production as they aim to improve public health and hit emissions targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Socially focused investors are starting to push companies to diversify into plant protein, or even suggest livestock producers use a “shadow price” of meat – similar to an internal carbon price – to estimate future costs. Meat could encounter the same fate as tobacco, carbon and sugar, which are currently taxed in 180, 60, and 25 jurisdictions around the world, respectively, according to a report on Monday from investor group the FAIRR  (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Initiative.

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Ethereum And Litecoin Soaring

In the past two days, Ethereum has broken through the $500 and $600 price barriers for the first time, and is up around 30% in the last 24 hours alone, according to Coinbase. Litecoin, meanwhile, is up an astounding 91% from the previous day and is sitting around $365 as of Tuesday afternoon—nearly four times what it was worth a week ago. (Bitcoin, meanwhile, is not far off its record high of around $17,300 but its relative price gains have been modest this week.)

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Possible Meat Taxes On The Cards

Some investors are betting governments around the world will find a way to start taxing meat production as they aim to improve public health and hit emissions targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Socially focused investors are starting to push companies to diversify into plant protein, or even suggest livestock producers use a “shadow price” of meat – similar to an internal carbon price – to estimate future costs. Meat could encounter the same fate as tobacco, carbon and sugar, which are currently taxed in 180, 60, and 25 jurisdictions around the world, respectively, according to a report on Monday from investor group the FAIRR  (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Initiative.

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SABC Staff Go On Strike

Union Bemawu informed members on Monday that it had given the SABC notice of its intention to strike. The union is demanding a 10% increase, while management is offering 4.5%. The Communication Workers’ Union has also reportedly notified management of plans to strike. Besides salaries, the unions have also taken issue with a reported R3.9-million paid to members of the interim SABC board, given the corporation’s shaky finances.

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Currencies: R264,718 . Ether R9,706 . R/USD13.66 . R/GBP18.16 . R/EUR16.05

U.S Firm Investigating Naspers Businesses

US law firm Pomerantz issued a statement in New York saying it was investigating claims on behalf of Naspers’s investors. “The investigation concerns whether Naspers and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices,” Pomerantz said. The law firm, which has been described by some US-based investors as the corporate equivalent of an ambulance chaser, has invited Naspers shareholders to join a class action. It pioneered corporate class actions and has been involved in many high-profile cases. “They’re not always successful but these are people you don’t really want looking into your business,” said an analyst.

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Steinhoff CEO Resigns

Steinhoff International Holdings NV Chief Executive Officer Marcus Jooste resigned with immediate effect after the global furniture and clothing retailer reported irregularities in its accounts that require further investigation. The owner of the France-based Conforama furniture store chain and Pep clothing stores in Africa has appointed auditor PwC to probe the matter, it said in a statement on Tuesday. South African billionaire and chairman of the company, Christo Wiese, will run the company on a temporary basis. The retailer, which has origins in South Africa, has a base in Amsterdam and a primary listing in Frankfurt, said Monday it wasn’t able to release audited full-year financial results on Wednesday due to matters related to a criminal and tax investigation in Germany. It had previously rejected allegations made in a Manager-Magazin report that Jooste is among employees being investigated by German prosecutors in a 2015 case linked to possible accounting fraud.

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Bitcoin Raors To $12000

Bitcoin surpassed $12 000 for the first time amid speculation that the widespread use of futures will help lead to digital currencies being viewed as a legitimate asset class for mainstream investors. The largest cryptocurrency by market value has soared from less than $1 000 at the start of the year as optimism climbs for the distributed ledger technology known as blockchain that is at the heart of bitcoin.

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Capetonians To Pay Monthly Drought Charge

Cape Town residents may have to pay a monthly “drought charge” for about three years from February, as officials try and raise R1 billion annually while dams in the province recover from the worst dry spell in more than a hundred years. Details about the proposed charge are contained in a report to be considered by the council of the City of Cape Town, which was signed on Friday by, among others, Mayor Patricia de Lille. The charge, if authorised by National Treasury, would be in place until the 2020/2021 financial year.

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78% Of SA Grade 4’s Cant Read

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which measures literacy rates of grade 4 learners, has revealed that as many as 78% of learners in that grade in South Africa are not able to read in any language. South Africa has been ranked last out of 50 countries that participated in the PIRLS 2016, which compares the reading achievement of participating countries by measuring reading ability, collecting extensive background information about policy, home support, and curricula

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Lamborghini Launches R2.7 Million SUV

Italian brand and manufacturer of luxury supercars, Lamborghini has unveiled the Urus. The long-awaited SUV fills the gap in the automaker’s lineup previously bereft of a utility vehicle. Lamborghini is among the last automakers worldwide to add an SUV or crossover to its portfolio of models.

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Engen Sells Service Stations To Vivo Energy

Engen Limited, through subsidiary Engen Holdings, is selling more than 300 Engen-branded service stations in 10 African countries to Vivo Energy Holding. As a result of the deal, Vivo will get a footprint in nine new countries – DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Réunion, Zambia, Gabon, Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi. Vivo said Engen’s Kenya operations, where Vivo already had a presence, were also part of the deal. Engen’s South African business and refinery as well as its businesses in Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho were not part of the transaction.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R184,400 . Ether R6,668 . R/USD13.48 . R/GBP18.05 . R/EUR15.95

 

 

R300 Million Spent On Madiba Funeral

The Eastern Cape provincial government “improperly diverted funds” amounting to R300m that were supposed to be spent on social infrastructure, to pay for president Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found. Mkhwebane said the finance minister should ask the president to issue a proclamation to allow the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money.

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Huge Petrol Price To Jump

The Department of Energy has published the official petrol prices for December 2017 – with the increases higher than first anticipated, thanks to a weaker rand and higher oil prices. From Wednesday, 6 December, the price of petrol for all grades will increase by 71 cents a litre. The per litre price of diesel 0.05% sulphur and 0.005% sulphur will increase by 60 cents and 57 cents respectively.

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BBC Lays Charges Against Suspended Danisa Baloyi

The Black Business Council (BBC) has laid criminal charges of fraud and theft against controversial businesswoman and suspended president Danisa Baloyi, as mystery continued over the missing R5 million donation from the Airports Company of SA (Acsa). BBC secretary-general George Sebulela yesterday said the lobby group laid the charges in against Baloyi and oil and gas company Merit Energy Johannesburg two weeks ago but suspended Baloyi on Thursday, pending investigations.

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Steinhoff Share Drops Despite Increased Revenue

Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) fell nearly 10% on the JSE, despite the group increasing its revenue to R58.6 billion on the back of a star performance from its discount and value segment. The shares closed 9.8% weaker at R50.34 as Star reported that the division, which consists of Pep Stores, Ackermans, Russells, Bradlows, Flash and Poco,  contributed R44.1bn to overall revenue for the year to end September.

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Heineken To Open $100m Moz Brewery

Heineken will open a $100 million brewery in Mozambique, its first production facility in the southern African nation. The world’s second-largest brewer plans to start production at the 0.8 million hectoliters capacity plant in the capital Maputo in the first half of 2019. Heineken, which also brews Amstel and Sagres, opened a marketing office in Mozambique last year, importing products to compete in a market where AB Inbev’s 2M is entrenched.

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Xiaomi To Launch IPO In 2018

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker that was once the most valuable startup in the world, is in talks with investment banks about a possible initial public offering and seeking a valuation of at least $50 billion. Xiaomi last raised money in 2014 at a $46 billion valuation.

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BMW To Make 50% Increase In Electric Vehicle Sales

BMW AG is targeting another ambitious hike in plug-in hybrid and battery car sales next year to defend its position in the electric-car shift as competitors like Volkswagen AG ready their own battery lineups. The planned increase to about 150,000 cars sold would represent a 50 percent rise from this year, and a jump of about two-thirds from last year’s deliveries of green cars. BMW, an early mover in the electric-car shift with 2013’s i3, is facing increasing competition from rivals like Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

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UK Treasury Plans Tighter Cryptocurrency Regulation

The British government is planning to introduce strict regulations of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to combat crime like tax evasion and money laundering. The UK Treasury will lead the effort into regulating cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, bringing it under the purview of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R169,894 . Ether R6,830 . R/USD13.49 . R/GBP18.14 . R/EUR16.01