Luno raises $9M to bring its bitcoin wallet, exchange and services to Europe

Luno, a bitcoin wallet and exchange based out of Singapore, is riding the crypto wave into Europe after it closed a $9 million Series B round for market expansion.

The funding was led by new investor Balderton Capital, with participation from existing backer Digital Currency Group. South Africa’s AlphaCode — also a new arrival on the cap table — joined the deal which takes Luno, which was formerly called BitX, to $13.8 million raised to date.

Major league investor Naspers, another that hails from South Africa, led a $4 million investment in June 2015.

The products these backers are throwing their weight behind include a bitcoin wallet for storing crypto currencies, an exchange for buying them and merchant services that enable banks and retailers to work with bitcoin. In South Africa, in particular, Luno has worked with the likes of Pick N Pay while it was among the first batch let into the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox in London last year.

Luno said the money will go towards bringing those services to 35 new countries in Europe. The company — which has offices in Singapore, Cape Town and London — plans to double its current headcount of 70 staff to support this new sprint, which takes its services to a total of 40 countries worldwide.

“[The expansion] might sound quite trivial but as you probably know there are not a lot of companies that offer these kind of services in Europe — certainly not in a very mass-market, user-friendly way, and particularly with a really good mobile product coupled with good customer service,” Luno CEO Marcus Swanepoel told TechCrunch.

“As we expand the team and grow in these countries we will be rolling out more deposit methods and country localization that we are already working on,” he added.

Bitcoin has been a tear this year, with the cryptocurrency’s value against the U.S. dollar reaching new highs in 2017. It reached $2,000 for the first time in May before surging to $3,000 and then $4,000 in August. Bitcoin touched $5,000 on some exchanges earlier this month before a ban on trading in China, and other market uncertainties saw the price decline to around $4,000 as of today.

Despite that volatility, companies and investors see the potential for the digital currency particularly around cross border transfers and — with the bitcoin blockchain — infrastructure and operational opportunities for the banking industry. Ethereum, the world’s second most popular crypto coin, is also emerging as a platform for developers, beyond helping companies raise money via ICOs.