For years local Steam users have been asking about the possibility of Valve using our South African Rand instead of the US Dollar, which often ends with us whipping out a calculator to calculate the exchange rate before we buy a game with our Steam Wallet or credit card. Well, according to the latest Steam Beta builds, it looks like we’re on the list of countries under consideration for switching to our local currency instead of the US Dollar. If you’re on the Beta builds now, you’ll probably see this change long before users on the Stable branch will, but there’s no telling how long it will take before this becomes a concrete thing.
If this comes to pass, several things may change on our end. One of those is that our user accounts on Steam might become region-locked. This won’t affect people buying games at local retailers and adding them to their Steam account, but it may change the way we purchase games in the future. Valve’s changes to how region locks worked were enacted late last year, when Euro Truck Simulator 2 developers SCS Software tweeted that games purchased through Steam in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Indonesia and surrounds and Brazil and surrounds were all now restricted in terms of where they can send Steam gifts to and which regions they can trade with.
This was Valve’s way of curbing the trend of people in one country paying someone to buy a game that was being sold cheaper in Russia, and later transferring it as a gift or through a card trade. Previous region restrictions blocked users from using a VPN to certain countries that had super-cheap games available in order to get their discounted prices.
There’s also the issue of our new VAT laws which place 14% VAT onto the sales of digital items bought on the internet with local or international companies. I haven’t been seeing VAT added on to my Steam purchases for some time so I don’t know what to make of it, but the current setup, at least as far as SARS is concerned, is that the sellers of online goods and services need to collect VAT from their customers and pay it over to the government.