According to Marius Reitz, Luno’s country manager for South Africa, the cryptocurrency platform, which is backed by Naspers and Rand Merchant Investment Holdings, is planning an aggressive push into at least 18 more African countries.
Reitz declined to name the countries being targeted, but said Luno, which operates in South Africa, Nigeria, Europe and Southeast Asia, is seeking banking partners across the continent to facilitate its expansion. He said “we’ve started engaging with banks and regulators” and revealed the company’s new African regional headquarters in Johannesburg will grow from a team of eight to 40.
A survey published by Luno shows that 69 percent of respondents in South Africa said they are familiar with cryptocurrencies, while 29 percent said they own a cryptocurrency. Reitz noted that the results of the survey were encouraging, considering the fact that bitcoin has only been around for 10 years.
In terms of familiarity and adoption of digital coins, South Africa and other emerging markets “scored higher than most countries in Europe except for Lithuania”. Reitz said this could be because emerging markets have a stronger appetite for alternative investment options.
The survey is based on 1,000 online responses from people from all age groups and income brackets.
Luno has more than 2 million customers globally. However, South Africa is its most important market in terms of trading volumes. Regulators in South Africa are expected to publish a position paper on cryptocurrencies within the next few months.
Reitz concluded by noting that while some clients have fallen prey to phishing scams, “Luno has never been hacked”.