Workforce Payments Guide South Africa
Last updated: Dec 18, 2023
Papaya Global fully supports payments in South Africa.
Papaya Global supports payments to contractors in South Africa. The payout currency may vary based on the receiver’s bank account setup when receiving foreign currencies. Contractors are advised to reach out to their bank to confirm how foreign currencies are handled.
The KYC (Know Your Customer) process in South Africa is a requirement under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FICA) as part of compliance measures to combat financial crimes.
The process starts with customer identification, which is done using government-issued identification documents that include the customer’s name, date of birth, and address. Some businesses also require biometric information for identity verification. Other necessary documents include a proof of address and proof of authority if a person is acting on behalf of another.
Customer screening follows identification, where customers are assessed based on their past financial behavior and screened against sanctions, PEP, and adverse media lists. They are then classified into high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk categories. After a customer is onboarded, their risk profile is constantly monitored by periodically updating user information and evaluating their risk profiles.
The KYC process is an ongoing initiative, with institutions required to have the latest and most accurate information about all their customers. They are compelled under law to enforce strict measures if they do not have accurate and up-to-date information about their customers, which could include freezing the customer’s account.
Institutions like First National Bank (FNB) allow for digital submission of documents for verification which usually takes 48 hours. Failure to comply with the KYC process may result in an account being frozen.
The KYC process is also transitioning towards digital identity verification to maintain high levels of KYC and AML/CFT compliance while enhancing the customer experience. This approach offers several advantages such as bypassing the need for physical locations, speeding up expansion, reducing the cost of doing business, and providing customers with the convenience of signing up online or on mobile.
Cross-border workforce payments in South Africa are influenced by several factors:
Banking Regulations: The Banks Act regulates banking activities in South Africa. No person shall conduct ‘the business of a bank’ unless such a person is a public company and is registered as a bank in terms of the Banks Act, or has been authorized by the Prudential Authority to conduct the business of a bank by means of a branch of a foreign bank.
Exchange Control Regulations: The South African Exchange Control Regulations, 1961, must be considered in the context of cross-border loan transactions.
Limited Banking Infrastructure: Some African countries, such as South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria, have built strong banking systems. However, due to the still-developing reality of African banking infrastructure, certain limitations still apply to many countries.
High Transfer Costs: Even when banks provide coverage, payment rails in Africa are not conducive to fast and cheap payroll payments.
Compliance with AML & KYC: Compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations is crucial.
Currency and Exchange Rate Fluctuations: The currency composition of cross-border assets and liabilities exposes such holdings to movements in the exchange value of the rand versus other currencies.
Bank Account Opening
The process for opening a business bank account in South Africa will depend upon the type of business structure you have. Both residents and non-residents can open bank accounts. Here are the steps:
1. Select a bank considering various factors like customer service, availability of commercial credit cards and savings accounts, fees, interest rates, financial management, and foreign exchange assistance.
2. Choose the type of account suitable for the business.
3. Submit specific documentation which includes the firm’s incorporation records, identification and address proofs, and any other documentation specified by the bank. Some banks may require these documents to be translated if they are not in one of the South African official languages.
4. Fill out the application for account opening and supply the necessary documentation.
5. After submission, the bank evaluates the application and supporting documentation. If the bank authorizes it following the verification process, they will open the account.
If you’re unable to go into a branch to present your documents, you’ll be asked to provide notarized copies and signature samples. According to Nedbank, the online application process for opening a business bank account only takes a few minutes. However, the total time for the process is not specifically mentioned.
he major foreign banks operating in South Africa include:
- Access Bank (South Africa) Ltd
- Habib Overseas Bank
- HBZ Bank Limited
- Bank of China Johannesburg Branch
- Bank of Communication Johannesburg Branch
- Bank of Taiwan South Africa Branch
- BNP Paribas SA
- China Construction Bank Johannesburg Branch
- Citibank N.A.
- Deutsche Bank AG Johannesburg branch
- Goldman Sachs
- among many others
Major Local Banks
The major local banks operating in South Africa are:
- ABSA Bank Limited
- African Bank Ltd
- Bidvest Bank Ltd
- Capitec Bank Ltd
- Discovery Bank Ltd
- FirstRand Bank Ltd
- Grindrod Bank Ltd
- Investec Bank Ltd
- Nedbank Limited
- Sasfin Bank Ltd
- Standard Bank of South Africa
- Tyme Bank Limited
- UBANK Limited
- Bank Zero
- FNB – First National Bank
- Development Bank of South Africa
- GBS Mutual Bank
- TNBS Mutual Bank
- Cash Bank
- RMB Private Banking
- Al Baraka Bank
- Barclays Africa Group
- Capitec Bank Holdings
- Rand Merchant Bank
The B2C payment tools available in South Africa include:
- Yoco, Ozow
- Peach Payments
- SiD Payment
- Sage Pay
- local credit and debit cards
Other methods include mobile money, bank transfer, digital wallets, and instant electronic funds transfers.
In South Africa, it is possible to pay employees with cryptocurrencies. However, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) treats cryptocurrencies as “assets of an intangible nature” and not legal tender, hence they are subject to taxation.
The tax treatment depends on the nature of the transaction. If the transaction is of a capital nature, capital gains tax applies to your crypto and if it is of a revenue nature, income tax applies.
For crypto profits subject to Capital Gains Tax, individuals pay a maximum effective tax rate of 18% on gains exceeding the R40,000 annual exclusion, depending on their total taxable income. For crypto profits subject to Income Tax, individuals pay between 18% to 45% in tax depending on their total taxable income.
Additionally, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) does not support companies using cryptocurrencies to pay salaries as it does not consider them as currency. While there are no specific regulations regarding how salaries paid in cryptocurrencies are taxed, SARS has stated that transactions or speculation in cryptocurrencies are subject to the general principles of South African tax law. It is important to note that SARS does not accept payment in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency users in South Africa need to declare their crypto assets’ gains or losses as part of their taxable income. Failure to do so can result in interest and penalties. Currently, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is in the process of developing its own set of rules for the cryptocurrency industry, and until these regulations are fully established, it is illegal for cryptocurrency users to transfer funds abroad.