Ethereum (ETH) redefined cryptocurrency and the internet by introducing Web3 technology to the world through smart contracts, dapps and tokenisation, which helped ETH reach an all-time-high price of R86,003.72 in November 2021.
While this has helped make ETH the #2 crypto by market cap, Ethereum is still a highly volatile asset capable of major price swings in a single day.
Today ETH is trading for R24,021.05, which is slightly up from yesterday's trading price of R23,302.98. Ethereum's seen a decrease of -61% over the past year.
So before you buy Ethereum, make sure you understand these unique risks as well as its legal, regulatory and tax status here in South Africa.
If you're ready to get started, read on for step-by-step instructions and a list of platforms you can use to buy Ethereum in South Africa.
How to buy Ethereum in 4 easy steps
To buy ETH all you'll need is a smartphone or
computer, an internet connection, photo
identification and a way to pay.
Compare crypto exchanges
The easiest way to buy Ethereum is from a cryptocurrency exchange. Comparing in the table below helps you find a platform with the features you want like low fees, ease of use or 24-hour customer support.
Create an account
To create an account on an exchange, you will need to verify your email address and identity. Have some photo ID and your phone ready.
Make a deposit
Once verified, you can deposit ZAR using the payment method that best suits you – credit card, wire transfer, Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) and Signature SIGNET payments are widely accepted.
You can now exchange your funds for Ethereum. On beginner-friendly exchanges, this is as simple as entering the ZAR or ETH amount you want to purchase and clicking "buy". If you like, you can then withdraw your Ethereum to a personal wallet.
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Keep in mind that these picks are suggestions and that the exchange that is best for you will depend on your individual needs. There may be other products on the market not included in our picks.
This is not an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade or use any services.
Where to buy Ethereum in South Africa
If this is your first time buying cryptocurrency you'll need to look for a platform that accepts South African Rands, like FTX or Binance.
Don't worry too much about extra features or coins for now – you can always sign up with another exchange later.
Use the table to choose a platform that meets your needs and click the Go to site button to get started.
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What will I need to buy Ethereum?
To create an account with your chosen crypto platform, you only need an email address or mobile number. This will usually allow you to deposit cryptocurrency, but not ZAR.
If you want to buy Ethereum with South African Rands, you'll need to pass a Know Your Customer (KYC) check.
This is a standard security procedure for most exchanges in South Africa and requires you to upload some photo ID, and in some cases a selfie with today's date.
KYC is usually approved instantly, but in rare cases, you may have to wait a few hours or days.
What are the best ways to buy Ethereum?
Once you've set up your account, you'll need to deposit funds to buy Ethereum with. We've listed out some popular ways to buy ETH and what you should know about each payment method below.
Many exchanges support free and instant bank transfers in South Africa.
Some offer other options like SEPA, Osko and wire transfers, but make sure you check if you'll be charged a deposit fee first.
How you transact with a debit card will depend on the platform.
Some exchanges let you transfer funds from your debit card to spend as you like.
Others will only let you use a debit card to make instant purchases, which often involves higher fees.
Credit card fees are higher than using bank transfers.
Some card issuers may block cryptocurrency transactions.
Your purchasing options will be limited and more expensive.
You may end up losing your initial investment and being charged fees and interest by your credit card provider.
Buying Ethereum with cash isn't common in South Africa, but it can still be done.
There are a few ways to buy ETH with cash:
Ethereum ATMs. You can purchase ETH with cash using a specialised Ethereum ATM. These can be found in many major cities in South Africa. You will still need to hand over some photo ID and pass a Know Your Customer (KYC) check.
Peer-to-peer (P2P). You can use a P2P platform to find someone who will sell you ETH directly in exchange for cash. Beware that this comes with a high risk of fraud if you attempt to settle the transaction in-person or without an escrow service. Look for an established and reputable platform that provides an escrow service and facilitates your trade online.
You can swap any cryptocurrency you already own for ETH using the "swap" or "convert" service on some platforms. This lets you instantly exchange one crypto for another even if there is no trading pair on the spot market.
What is the cheapest way to buy Ethereum?
First things first – you don't have to buy a whole Ethereum.
Most exchanges let you buy as little as R5 worth of ETH, if not less. Just type in how much you want to spend in ZAR and let the exchange work out the rest.
Some platforms only offer 1 way to buy Ethereum, while others provide several choices. The 2 most common ways to buy ETH are on the spot market or with an "instant buy" feature.
If it's your first time buying Ethereum this will be the fastest method – but also the least cost-effective.
You'll usually find the instant buy section under a "Buy now" heading on the platform you've chosen.
It should feature a simple interface that lets you enter the amount of Ethereum you want to buy, or South African Rands you want to spend.
This is usually the only option available for credit or debit card purchases, but you may also be able to make an instant buy if you've pre-funded your account with a bank transfer.
Be prepared to pay a markup on ETH's market rate in exchange for the convenience.
If you see colourful charts with a range of prices, you're probably in the spot market.
The spot market is where buyers and sellers come together to place bids for ETH on the open market. It's usually the cheapest way to buy Ethereum because it lets traders set their own price.
You'll find the spot market under a "Trade" or "Spot" heading on the site or app menu of the platform you've chosen to use.
There are several different order types that you can make on the spot market.
Market order. This will buy you the amount of Ethereum you specify at the lowest possible price available. This makes it like an instant buy order, but with much lower fees.
Limit order. This is the most common order type and lets you purchase Ethereum at the price you specify. Traders use this to time the market and capitalise on price dips or increases.
How to find the best place to buy Ethereum in South Africa
There are dozens of different trading platforms to choose from when buying Ethereum in South Africa, so to help you find your best option, keep these factors in mind:
Where it's registered. Using a locally registered exchange is a good idea. It's more likely to accept South African Rands and local payment methods like Osko, which helps avoid foreign exchange fees. Choosing from South Africa-based exchanges also means it's likely to be registered with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) which means it has to comply with local laws in South Africa.
Security. Look at the security features the platform has to offer, like 2-factor authentication and PGP-encrypted emails. Cold storage of user funds is considered industry standard, but insurance funds are less common and indicative of good security practices.
Fees. Check the fine print to find out exactly how much your transaction will cost. Depending on the platform you choose, these could include spreads, trading fees and deposit and withdrawal charges.
Transaction limits. Are there any minimum or maximum limits on the amount of Ethereum you can purchase? Does the exchange restrict the amount of funds you can withdraw from your account in any 1 transaction or 24-hour period?
Other platform features. Look out for other features that suit your investment or trading needs. For instance, many exchanges now let you earn yield on your holdings, while some issue
crypto debit cards to help you spend your coins.
Customer support. If you ever have a problem with a transaction, will you be able to quickly and easily get in touch with the customer support team? Are they based in South Africa? Check what contact methods are available and find out how quick the team is at responding to enquiries.
Insurance fund. A small number of exchanges now insure user funds. Beware that policies vary greatly between exchanges, so you'll need to research this thoroughly if insurance is important to you.
Reputation. As a young industry, reputation can provide a lot of clues when choosing an exchange. For instance, who are the founders? Have there been any controversies? Are their business practices transparent? If you can't find any of this information, that may be a red flag.
Range of coins. If you're thinking about adding other cryptos to your portfolio in the future, check to see what other coins you can buy through the platform.
Read reviews. Finder's
crypto exchange reviews include user feedback, which helps you get a better idea of what the exchange is like to use for other people starting out just like you.
Using FSCA-registered exchanges
There are plenty of places to buy Ethereum, and people in South Africa can choose from platforms registered here at home or in locations all around the world. Opting for a locally registered ETH exchange typically offers more convenience, but may have some downsides depending on your goals.
South Africa-based exchanges must comply with FSCA Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Counter-terrorism Financing (CTF) reporting obligations.
You can usually buy Ethereum with ZAR.
Exchanges in South Africa typically support local payment methods, such as SWIFT, SEPA and Osko.
You may be able to access local customer support.
Subject to local laws.
You'll need to provide your personal details and proof of ID – a disadvantage if you want to trade anonymously.
Overseas trading platforms may provide better liquidity.
ZAR-to-crypto prices are often slightly higher than USD-to-crypto prices, meaning you sometimes pay a premium for buying directly with South African Rands.
Some features are simply not available on FSCA-registered exchanges. For example, high leverage margin trading, DeFi features and some altcoins.
Recent Ethereum developments
September 15, 2022: Ethereum's long-awaited network upgrade, known as The Merge, is now complete. The transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) permanently eliminates proof-of-work (PoW) mining, reducing Ethereum's energy consumption by 99.95%.
Is Ethereum safe to invest in?
You shouldn't invest in any asset, including ETH without doing plenty of research first. Before you buy Ethereum, make sure you understand and weigh up these risks:
Price volatility. Ethereum's price is largely based on speculation, which means it can rise or fall in a short time. It's not uncommon for ETH to lose more than 10% of its value in a single day.
Perceived value. ETH is a unique asset that does not have any tangible value. It derives most of its value from utility and speculation.
Exchange vulnerabilities. Leaving your Ethereum on a crypto platform exposes you to several counterparty risks, including:
Scams. Scammers frequently try to trick exchange users into handing over their username and password, often by phishing with malicious emails or fake website links. Use 2FA and encrypted emails to help protect your funds.
Hacks and theft. Exchanges are vulnerable to hacks and theft, so choose one with good security practices and a track record of safety.
Fiscal mismanagement. In mid-2022 a number of crypto platforms froze user funds after it was revealed they had engaged in irresponsible funds management.
Insurance. Unlike stocks, only a small handful of exchanges provide insurance on your cash deposits.
Regulatory uncertainty. The regulatory environment for Ethereum and other cryptos is constantly changing. It's important to understand how international rulings have the potential to impact Ethereum's future – for better or worse.
Novel technology. Ethereum was created in 2015 which makes it relatively new as a form of technology and as a currency. ETH doesn't yet have the same track record or performance history as some other asset classes.
Technical learning curve. Evaluating the tech behind ETH before you invest is important, but requires a deep understanding of the blockchain and other aspects of decentralised finance. You should be prepared to do plenty of research.
Ongoing upgrades. Ethereum is arguably the most active blockchain in the world and is routinely upgraded every few months. While releases undergo thorough testing, there may be unforeseen issues that could affect the usability of specific applications or the security of the network.
Transaction cost. During periods of high usage such as when the market is on a bull run, ETH transactions become very expensive or slow for those who can't afford the
highest gas fees. You may have trouble making a transaction or using an application when gas fees are high. Steps are being taken to mitigate this, but the problem is likely to persist for some time.
Potential forks. In 2016, Ethereum was forked due to a major DAO hack. This resulted in the creation of a secondary network called
Ethereum Classic (ETC), which diluted the price of ETH. Future Ethereum forks could have a similar impact on ETH's price.
Today's Ethereum price versus ATH
Compare today's price of Ethereum ($1,362.51 USD) against its all time high price of $4,878.26 USD on November 10, 2021. The closer the bar is to 100%, the closer ETH is to reaching its ATH again.
Current price: $1,362.51
All time high: $4,878.26
How is Ethereum taxed?
Ethereum is increasingly treated as a financial asset by governments around the world. This means that you may need to declare your ETH holdings at tax time and should consider consulting a tax professional to make sure you don't run afoul of the law.
After you've bought Ethereum
Once you own some ETH, you have 2 options – keep it on an exchange, or move it to a personal wallet. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Keeping your Ethereum on an exchange
Convenience. Keeping your Ethereum on an exchange is convenient because you can buy and sell at any time.
Security. Holding Ethereum on an exchange does come with significant counterparty risks, but reputable platforms also invest heavily in security so you don't have to worry about the pitfalls of self-custody.
Insurance. A small handful of exchanges now operate insurance schemes. These can range from insuring user deposits held in cold storage to reimbursing customers if a hack occurs.
Earn yield. Many exchanges let you earn yield on your Ethereum. This is done in 1 of 2 ways: the exchange will either stake your ETH on your behalf, or lend it to other users. Each carries its own set of risks, though lending is generally associated with higher risk. Make sure you understand which method is being used to generate yield before handing over your assets.
Phishing. Exchange users are frequently targeted by scammers trying to steal login information through malicious emails and fake website links.
Hacking. Exchanges are major targets for hackers. While security practices have improved substantially, hacks still occur from time to time.
Account freezing. Exchanges have been known to occasionally freeze user accounts, whether due to security concerns, technical issues or market turbulence. This could see you temporarily lose access to your crypto.
Limited usability. Ethereum is a blockchain with a growing ecosystem of Web3 applications. If you want to use these services, you will need to move a portion of your ETH to a Web3 wallet to pay for gas fees.
Moving your Ethereum to a non-custodial wallet
Self-custody. A mantra repeated by crypto investors is "Not your keys, not your coins." This comes from the idea that the only way to guarantee ownership of your Ethereum is to own the private key — which isn't the case when you hold on an exchange.
Security. Ethereum and cryptocurrency wallets vary greatly in their features and security. For the most secure experience, consider purchasing a hardware wallet, which is usually a small USB device that keeps your private keys offline at all times for an extra layer of security.
Utility. If you plan to use your Ethereum for transactions, daily spending or decentralised finance (DeFi), then storing it in a wallet rather than an exchange will be more convenient.
Web3 apps. The Ethereum ecosystem is chock full of DeFi dapps such as Aave, on which you can lend your ETH. It also features NFT apps like Rarible and games like Decentraland. To engage with these dapps, NFT platforms and games, your ETH must be in a non-custodial browser extension wallet.
Learning curve. It's no secret that learning how to use a crypto wallet takes some time and effort. Spend some time learning how Ethereum wallets work before transferring any of your funds.
Personal responsibility. Owning your own money can be liberating, but it also means the responsibility is all yours. If you lose your private key, the only way to regain access to your wallet is through the seed phrase. Make sure to store both of these privately and securely.
Inheritance. A challenge presented by crypto wallets is how to pass access on in the event of death or disability. Several companies are experimenting with ways to solve this problem, like the Trezor Model T wallet's Shamir backup feature.
Expensive transaction fees. One of the main critiques of the Ethereum network is that it is expensive to transact on. ETH fees are significantly higher than fees on blockchains such as Solana or Cardano.
Smart contract risk. If you plan to use your ETH on decentralised applications – or dapps – your funds may be at risk. Dapps are controlled by smart contracts and if there is a flaw in the code of these contracts, hackers may be able to steal your ETH.
If you want to buy Ethereum, start by comparing a range of crypto brokers and exchanges available in South Africa. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform is the right fit for you. Consider an exchange registered with the FSCA for added peace of mind.
Remember that owning and using Ethereum is not without its risks. Carefully consider investing in ETH as part of a wider strategy, and talk to a financial advisor if you have any questions.
Once you've bought some ETH, think about what your short and long-term goals are. This will help you decide whether to keep it on an exchange, or move it to your own wallet.
Is Ethereum worth buying?
Unfortunately, there's no easy way of knowing for certain whether any asset is worth buying. A good place to start your evaluation is by considering the asset's utility.
ETH is the gas used for the Ethereum blockchain, so anyone that wants to use it must own ETH. As a result, mass adoption of Ethereum could see demand for ETH rise as well.
Take a look at our expert panel's
price prediction for ETH through 2030 to help you to get a better idea as to whether or not Ethereum might be worth buying.
Where is the best place to buy Ethereum?
The best place to buy Ethereum will depend on your needs, but a common thing to look for is a platform that supports ZAR, which you can do using our table.
You should also consider these things when choosing where to buy Ethereum:
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance of ETH is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the Ethereum or any other cryptocurrency discussed.
James Edwards is a personal finance and cryptocurrency writer for Finder. He has qualifications in both psychology and UX design, which drives his interest in fintech and the exciting ways in which technology can help us take better control of our money. His expertise has seen him called on to report at events such as TechCrunch Disrupt, CoinDesk Consensus and IBM Think.
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