Naspers Ltd.-backed cryptocurrency platform Luno is expanding into Australia as Bitcoin rallied 59% this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While Australia’s trading in Bitcoin reached a new record in February, the numbers are still lower than expected considering the size of the country’s economy and economic indicators, Luno General Manager Marius Reitz said in an interview. This make the country an ideal expansion target for the cryptocurrency exchange, that also operates in several other markets, including South Africa, Nigeria, and the U.K., he said.
According to Bitcoin.com, crypto-based merchant trade in Australia reached almost $74,000 in February, up from $44,000 in January. Australia has seen a five-fold increase in the number of fintech companies in five years, and has a supportive regulatory environment, said Reitz.
The exchange, which trades Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP and Litecoin, recently also started trading in Zambia and Uganda, he said. The South African company employs 350 people across offices in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Luno, which was founded seven years ago, has added about a million users to its platform since the outbreak of Covid-19 as the virus pushed more people to look for digital ways to transact and limit human contact.
The closely held company is one of dozens of cryptocurrency platforms that have sprung up around the world in response to soaring demand.
Luno attracted $3 million in funding in 2015, led by Naspers, Africa’s biggest company. Naspers, Balderton Capital UK LLP, Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Ltd., Venturra Capital and Digital Currency Group all own minority stakes of less than 20%.