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Luno Raises $9m in Series B Fundraising and Expands to New Markets

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Luno Raises $9m in Series B Fundraising

Luno managed to raise $9million in a Series B funding round from new and existing investors. The money will be used to expand into new European markets and provide innovative ways for customers to learn, buy and store cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. African customers can expect a more refined digital experience in the countries Luno currently operates.

New Funding Round

LunoLuno is a bitcoin exchange and wallet provider that is based in London with offices in Cape Town and Singapore. Since its early days as a pioneer in designing a fully integrated bitcoin pilot system for a leading bank, the company has expanded and now offers merchant services together with its consumer wallets and exchanges.

The funding round was led by Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s elite venture capital firms. Luno has in the past worked closely with the Balderton team and welcomes their wealth of experience in scaling global businesses, their strategic business networks and an appreciation of Luno’s core mission and what is required to achieve it. Another investor involved in the finding round is AlphaCode, which is an investment subsidiary of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI). This is a renown financial services company that has created and invested in some of the leading fintech companies in the UK and Africa. RMI bring to the table years of experience in working with management teams that have built successful companies across various industries.

Previous investors, Digital Currency Group, were also involved in the new funding round. The new investors will join other companies that invested in Luno’s Series A round which raised $4 million. The firms include South East Asian venture capital firm, Ventura Capital and tech giant Naspers.

Moving Into New Markets

The money raised will fund Luno’s expansion into 35 new European markets. The company has noted despite the increasing demand for cryptocurrencies globally, there still exists a need for user-friendly, secure and high-quality products in many places, Europe included. Changing that is the company’s goal as is evident from their vision to make digital currencies accessible to anyone, anywhere, and to do so in a manner that is safe and very enjoyable.

Luno has managed to establish itself as a market leader in South East Asia and Africa, despite facing some regulatory challenges in a few markets. For instance, the company halted offering its exchange services in Kenya due to regulatory pressure from a bitcoin unfriendly central bank that has made it difficult for banks to partner with bitcoin startups. However, this has not affected its growth with the company continuing to build its presence in the UK and other jurisdictions.

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Virtual Crypto to Make Accessing Cryptocurrency Easier in Africa

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Virtual Crypto

A distribution agreement was reached between Virtual Crypto and a South Africa-based third-party company to commence the sales of Virtual Crypto’s products in Africa.

According to the Exclusive Distribution Agreement distribution signed by Virtual Crypto Technologies, Inc. and South Africa-based Virtual Crypto SA Ltd., Virtual Crypto will start to sell its software and hardware products for the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies via point-of-sales systems, ATMs, tablets, PCs and mobile devices in Southern Africa.

Territories in the Distribution Agreement cover sixteen African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, according to a company press release.

Virtual Crypto’s Push into Africa

virtual crypto“Cryptocurrency is increasingly popular in the Southern African Region, which is a strong emerging market. Cryptocurrency provides investors and businesses with an opportunity to diversify their portfolio. In addition, Virtual Crypto’s solutions offer businesses and consumers a secure payment alternative with real-time availability and broad accessibility,” Alon Dayan, CEO of Virtual Crypto said.

The main goal of Virtual Crypto is to make cryptocurrency day-to-day transactions easier and more common by providing easy access to cryptocurrencies through its array of currency-agnostic solutions.

“We felt that by creating a solution that was both platform and cryptocurrency agnostic, the masses can employ the advantages of utilizing cryptocurrency for all of their needs. While we’ve already demonstrated success in our solutions in other markets, we believe the advantages will be even greater in locations, such as the developing countries within Southern Africa, where local economies experience volatility,” added.

What Does This Mean for Local Investors?

Virtual Crypto’s products such as point-of-sale systems, ATMs, tablets, PCs and mobile devices will be available for integration by various SMEs to accept payment for goods and services provided. 

Not only could this move potentially boost Virtual Crypto’s stock price, but if all goes according to plan, Africans will find it easier to purchase cryptocurrencies and reap the benefits of being able to easily access decentralised digital currencies. 

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A Blessing and a Curse: Cryptocurrency Opens Doors to Both Investments and Scams in SA

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Investments and Scams in SA

Over the past year or so, cryptocurrencies have certainly made their mark across the globe. From the spread of information to the introduction of various rules and regulations, country after country appear to be building up their own ideas on just how to handle the cryptocurrencies gracing the world today. South Africa is certainly no exception. More and more businesses within the region are starting to accept cryptocurrencies and as mass adoption seems to become more and more likely, crypto enthusiasts are starting to rejoice at the thought that SA could soon be a region ready to utilise these currencies to their fullest.

However, with all good things come the bad and for cryptocurrencies, that means scams. Here, we’re taking a look just what cryptocurrency adoption could mean for South Africa.

Cryptocurrency Capital

For those living in South Africa, the cryptocurrency revolution has certainly been leaving its mark. Most surprisingly, perhaps, is the simple fact that it isn’t just financial experts that are taking an interest in these coins here. In fact, everyday use of these digital assets has been rife.

South Africa has been following cryptocurrency adoption for quite some time now and as a result, more and more businesses are beginning to boom with improved access to funds that might otherwise not have been available in fiat form. A huge variety of businesses have been picking up on this trend. Online banking, trading, gambling, sports betting and even physical stores are capitalising on these trends. In fact, sportsbooks were some of the very first companies to start to accept bitcoin, some opting for even bitcoin-exclusive payment options, and even schools are now accepting crypto to help the fulfillment of education gaps. With tourism and South African trade also benefiting from the spread of crypto, South Africa has truly been capitalising on cryptocurrencies in a way that no other country in the world has dared try.

For this reason, it’s clear that the interest in cryptocurrency use goes far beyond the experts and instead, often emanates from the residents. As a result, the South African Treasury introduced taxation on cryptocurrency funds as a new, yet traditional form of bringing in capital for the country. From April 2018, it was made clear that any profits made by cryptocurrencies for companies and businesses operating in South Africa would have to come under taxable law and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) had even offered to provide support and advice to those who weren’t clear on what this would entail.

In July 2018, however, amendments were proposed via the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB) that would change the definition that digital assets were taxable financial instruments. They would become a financial instrument by the Income Tax Act standards and a financial service by the VAT Act standards, meaning that all crypto trades would then be exempt from VAT. These proposals, should they be successful, could encourage more and more businesses to pick up cryptocurrencies as a form of payment and further integrate these digital coins into everyday life in SA.

South African Scams

south africaHowever, while things seem to be going well, for the most part, there are of course negatives to take into consideration and unfortunately, those negatives are manifesting themselves in scams. The introduction of SAFCOIN – a cryptocurrency designed entirely to bring more and more South African’s safely into the world of crypto – has led to a high volume of investors and spenders entering the markets which, for hackers and scammers, is a new found gold mine.

One of the most recent and perhaps more terrifying scams for a low of Africans is the Nigerian Bitcoin Scam in April 2018. This scam saw thousands of people lose their entire life savings in some cases after a bitcoin trading company disappeared with practically billions of Naira. With both offices in Kenya and Nigeria both seemingly disappearing overnight, people were left confused, poor and scammed. March also saw a cryptocurrency scam, with around 28,000 virtual currency investors falling victim to BTC Global’s theft of over $80 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

These scams have opened up SA’s eyes to the potential risks associated with cryptocurrencies, though the debate is still rife as to whether this will actually make a difference as to how quickly and how eagerly they are adopting virtual currencies within the region. With further education and awareness, this could potentially become much safer but only time will truly tell.

What Do The Experts Think?

While Africa isn’t often thought to be at the forefront of any technological innovations, cryptocurrencies could be the market to change that – at least according to Rakesh Sharma, a business and technology journalist. Claiming that Africa could be the next leading frontier for cryptocurrencies, he said that SA “may be set to steal a march over other markets” namely due to the fact that Africa is suffering from such high inflation of their usual fiat currency. With an unstable economy, more and more people are likely to reach for a decentralised alternative to ensure that their funds are kept safe from the potential of corruption or disaster from central banks.

CEO of Liquid Crypto-Money, an SA cryptocurrency consulting firm, also predicted that Africa is likely to have government-issued cryptocurrencies in the near future. As a potential solution for governments seeking an answer to catastrophic inflation rates, cryptocurrencies aren’t to be ignored but with debate still suggesting that cryptocurrencies in Africa are dependent on speculation and an uncontrollable volatility, it’s difficult to determine just where things could go in the future.

As with most cryptocurrency markets, it’s undeniably complicated to determine whether or not South Africa could really be the country to adopt cryptocurrencies on a mass and stable scale. The potential they could hold, however, is promising enough for most and with government support and treasury regulation, the potential risks could, in time, be reduced.

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Almost a Quarter of High-Tech Consumers in South Africa Now Own Cryptocurrency

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High-Tech Consumers in South Africa

A new study titled “Digital Lifestyle Measure report” conducted by MBIT found that 23 percent of high-tech consumers in South Africa own at least one cryptocurrency, with bitcoin being the most common holding. 

New Report Shows High-Tech Consumers Hold Crypto

In the”Digital Lifestyle Measure report” report, each level of tech consumer (high, medium, and low) was grouped according to DM segmentation. A high-tech consumer is identified and tagged as a “DLM5 consumer”, and for the low-tech consumers, a “DLM1 consumer” was used. 

To place each of the participants in the right groups, the survey made use of a question and answer (Q&A) method. Each person was categorised according to how well they were able to answer the provided questions. The questions mostly focused on their private digital lifestyle and technological gadgets they own and can operate well.

The result of this survey shows that only six percent of the low-tech consumers (DLM 1) own crypto, while 23 percent of high tech consumers own cryptocurrencies. The remaining percentage was then shared in the order: DLM 2: seven percent, DLM 3: twelve percent, and DLM 4: eight percent.

cryptoThe report also stated that of the DML5 population, about 42 perfect of them are of the notion that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Same goes for 30 percent of the DLM 4 consumers group.

Conversely, 41 percent of the low-tech consumers (DLM1 consumers) did not know what cryptocurrencies are all about, according to IOL

From the DLM 3 consumer group, about 34 percent of them cannot say what the future looks like for cryptocurrencies but 26 percent of them claimed cryptocurrencies to be the “future of financial transacting.”

The report has further shown that high tech consumers who are continually paying for something electronically, are more likely to buy crypto in the long run.

Based on the google trends data, South Africa currently has the highest levels of interest in bitcoin across the world. Hence, it should come as no surprise that tech-savvy South Africans are the ones investing in digital currencies and tokens. 

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