South African crypto startup Luno goes global

Luno, a South African founded cryptocurrency exchange, has been acquired by the world’s largest blockchain investor. 

Luno, one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has been acquired by Digital Currency Group (DCG)

Digital Currency Group (DCG), a global enterprise that builds, buys, and invests in blockchain companies has acquired Luno. New York-based DCG will be making a significant financial commitment to help Luno expand globally, both in geographies where Luno currently operates and beyond. 

The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. 

Going global

DCG is an investment firm that has backed more than 160 blockchain companies around the world. 

In addition to its venture portfolio, DCG is the parent company of several wholly-owned subsidiaries, including Grayscale Investments (the world’s largest digital currency asset manager), Genesis (a leading digital asset prime brokerage), CoinDesk (the preeminent media and events company in the industry), and the recently-launched Foundry, which provides institutional expertise, capital, and market intelligence to bitcoin miners and manufacturers. 

DCG first invested in Luno in its seed round in 2013. Luno has also been backed by global tech giant Naspers Group and Rand Merchant Investments which have sold their stakes in Luno to BCG.

Barry Silbert, DCG founder and CEO comments on acquiring Luno. 

“We are proud to have supported Luno as an early investor, and we recognize a shared commitment to building mission-driven companies that can help transform traditional financial services and improve economic freedom for people all over the world. Luno is a high growth, global business and there is a massive opportunity to expand organically and through acquisitions.”

DCG enables its subsidiaries to operate as independent companies, providing leadership, partnership, and investment capital to help scale the businesses. 

The Luno leadership team will remain intact and Swanepoel will lead acquisition efforts in his role as CEO. 

Swanepoel comments on the acquisition, pointing out that it will assist Luno in reaching their overall business model goals. 

“The past seven years has been an incredibly exciting journey for Luno – helping millions of our customers get access to crypto for the first time. DCG has been an integral part of the Luno story during this time, and we’ve been fully aligned on our vision and culture since day one. Having the full backing of DCG just as we’re experiencing such a pivotal moment of growth in the industry is not just an exciting and important milestone for Luno, but more importantly, it will significantly accelerate our ability to reach our goal to help upgrade one billion people to a better financial system by 2030.”

Luno maintains key regional offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos, and Jakarta and will continue to focus on the existing geographies where it operates across Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. 

The Luno team has developed an aggressive road map for future growth and will ultimately compete with financial services firms globally. Luno is currently hiring for several key positions. 

Luno’s rapid expansion 

Luno began in South Africa in 2013. It now has five million customers spanning over 40 countries as well as almost 400 employees based in London, Singapore, and South Africa. 

Led by co-founder and CEO Marcus Swanepoel, Luno has become a digital asset powerhouse in many emerging and frontier markets, providing digital asset education, knowledge, and investment tools for individuals in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. 

Luno has helped broaden the global crypto investment community and the company has seen record growth of its customer base in 2020. 

The company is a leading exchange in several countries that have the highest percentage of cryptocurrency ownership, including South Africa (third-highest of its citizens owning digital currencies), Nigeria (fifth-highest), Indonesia (sixth-highest), and Malaysia (tenth-highest).

Read more: SA crypto startup expands into Australia
Read more: Stricter taxes on the horizon for SA cryptocurrency traders

Featured image: Marcus Swanepoel , Luno CEO and co-founder (Supplied)

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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