Today’s Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (20 September)
Fintech platform, Luno, today announced its expansion into 35 new markets across Europe, and R120 million Series B funding round, led by London-based Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms.
Rand Merchant Investments, through its fintech investment arm, AlphaCode, and existing investors Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. This follows Luno’s R60 million Series A round, which was led by emerging market tech giant, Naspers.
Luno is a bitcoin platform that allows people to buy, sell and learn about digital currencies. With a team of over 70 in offices in London, Singapore and Cape Town, its services will now be available in 40 countries around the world.
“We’re excited to partner with our new investors as we accelerate our business across Europe and the rest of the world,” said Marcus Swanepoel, Luno CEO. “In Europe we’ve seen an unprecedented demand, not just for digital currency, but also for our high-quality, secure and very user-friendly products, in particular the Luno mobile apps. Enabling more people in Europe to have access to these products and services is a critical part of our mission to bring digital currencies to everyone, everywhere – and in a way that makes everyone’s journey into the world of digital currency safe, super easy and highly enjoyable”.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen strong growth in digital currency awareness and adoption across both the consumer and institutional markets in South Africa. This is placing South Africa at the forefront of innovation in the global financial sector.”
Swanepoel continued: “We’re very excited to partner with Rand Merchant Investments, an experienced and respected financial institution. This partnership will enable us to unlock more value for our customers in South Africa by providing products that are safe, easy to access and use, and all in a regulatory compliant manner. We look forward to working with all the key stakeholders in South Africa to grow this industry in a responsible manner where the benefits of this new technology can be realised by all.”
Dominique Collett, senior investment executive at Rand Merchant Investments added: “Luno has a high quality team in the rapidly evolving, highly disruptive bitcoin industry. We have been impressed with their ability to build a trusted, secure product and to engage with regulators globally. We think this sets them apart from many in this industry and we have no doubt we will continue to see phenomenal growth from this company.”
The funding will be used for product refinement and development, global expansion and to bring to market a number of exciting new features. Luno will be hiring across all three their main hubs in London, Singapore and Cape Town.
This follows an announcement that Pick n Pay had piloted a bitcoin payment system which allowed its customers to use the bitcoin cryptocurrency to purchase groceries and services from Pick n Pay’s head office campus store in Cape Town.
The bitcoin infrastructure for the project was provided by Luno, while the cloud-based enterprise payments platform used for the transactions was provided by Cape Town-based startup, Electrum, according to Tech Central.
The retail giant became one of the first major local retail chains to pilot bitcoin in their payments structure. The pilot, which is no longer active, was described as a world first, according to a Business Day article, adding that industry insiders expect other retailers to follow suit. Pick n Pay, however, added they are unlikely to roll out the bitcoin payment platform until there was a regulatory framework for managing risks associated with cryptocurrencies.