Africa’s First Bitcoin Exchange

There are many reasons why Bitcoin could provide one of the most important boosts to the African economy. It is suited ideally to performing transactions in places which have little access to traditional banking facilities. This describes Africa perfectly, but smart phones are almost everywhere since the gradual improvement in the telecommunication infrastructure.

Indeed for Bitcoin to succeed, making inroads into African economies is almost essential.  These are the places for which digital currencies where almost designed for.  The story is only in it’s infancy but already major financial institutions are watching closely and so indeed are the financial press.    It’s worth keeping an eye out on the BBC media coverage which you can find on the BBC iPlayer – accessible outside the UK from here.

Bitcoin might be using a rough ride in 2018, but one cryptocurrency organization is optimistic about its long term prospects. Luno, founded in South Africa in 2013, has plans to become one of the leading cryptocurrency dealers in the entire world. Chief executive officer and creator Marcus Swanepoel has a target that could leave larger companies in the shadow: 1 billion clients by 2025. There are some industries in the world for which you can say that’s a target, but because bitcoin is open and global, it’s really an achievable goal. We are eager to pursue it. He explained. The company is planning to grow its team of 70 workers to 300 over the next six months.

A former investment banker, Swanepoel, say that Luno was the first company in Africa to provide cryptocurrency trading. It’s appreciated runaway growth since then, and now has 1.5 million clients in 40 states, largely emerging markets. The company, backed by some large investors including Naspers, was made by a small group of individuals with backgrounds in technology and finance that, like Swanepoel wished to give up their company jobs. The air at Luno’s Cape Town offices is casual, some of the team walk around barefoot. However the relaxed strategy ends with regards to protecting Luno from pirates that have made off with bitcoin worth millions from others exchanges.

We take security as seriously as large banks do, but when we are at the office we are about working together and developing a collaborative environment, Swanepoel said. The company has developed considerably over the last five decades. It started building systems for banks before shifting its attention to consumers. We realized the banks are going to take too long to adopt the technology, plus they had been getting confused about what the technology may do, the CEO said. His group has developed a wallet, merchant and exchange integration services for both bitcoin and one of its main rivals, ethereum.

Connected: Cryptocurrency regulation is unavoidable, says the IMF leads. Luno is headquartered in Singapore, partly due to the significance markets in southeast Asia. However the company attributes much of its success to the origins and expertise in nations such as in Nigeria where most internet users are cellular. As opposed to other companies, because we put up in Africa very first goods that were mobile were assembled by us, Swanepoel said. He believes which has given Luno edge, especially over competitors.

Further Reading: Accessing BBC from Abroad