The South African based cryptocurrency wallet Luno is close to hitting two million customers, says Marcus Swanepoel, CEO and co-founder. In essence, Luno is a online account used to store, send, and receive digital currency like bitcoin.
Luno has already processed more than R62 billion ($5 billion) in payments, Swanepoel said.
From a base in Cape Town, Luno operates in more than 40 countries, offering a digital exchange with local currencies and both Bitcoin and Ethereum, and employs over 250 people. It was named the United Kingdom's fastest growing tech start-up for 2018.
Luno was born in Singapore in 2013 when its five co-founders recognised the disruptive potential of this intersection between finance and technology, Swanepoel, a South African who grew up in Singapore, says.
“Our initial hypothesis was that because it has to do with money and will make the financial system more efficient, banks would be very interested.”
They launched 'Switchless' specifically for business-to-business clients, and a South African company was one of the earliest clients. The company established its operations in Cape Town to accommodate the client, and quickly grew from there.
“[However], we quickly realised two things: one, the banks were going to be moving very slow in this space; and two, there was a lot of misconceptions around what the technology could or could not do.”
In 2014, they switched their focus to the consumer market and Luno – the Esperanto word for the Moon – was born.
Swanepoel believes Luno is the easiest and safest way to buy, store and use decentralised cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or Ethereum. The company’s current shareholders include Naspers, Balderton Capital and Rand Merchant Investment Holdings.
Swanepoel says Luno is set to expand its operations in London, Lagos, Singapore and Cape Town this year.