Africa’s first bitcoin exchange targets 1 billion users

Luno, founded in South Africa in 2013, has plans to become one of the leading cryptocurrency traders in the world.

CEO and founder Marcus Swanepoel has a goal that would leave many bigger companies in the shade: 1 billion customers by 2025.

“There are very few industries in the world for which you could say that is a reachable goal, but because bitcoin is so open and global, it is really an achievable goal. We’re excited to pursue it,” he said.

The company is planning to grow its team of 70 employees to 300 over the next six months.

Swanepoel, a former investment banker, say Luno was the first company in Africa to offer cryptocurrency trading.

It has enjoyed runaway growth since then, and now has 1.5 million customers in 40 countries, mostly emerging markets.

The company, backed by some big investors including Naspers, was created by a small group of people with backgrounds in tech and finance who, like Swanepoel wanted to give up their corporate jobs.

The atmosphere in Luno’s Cape Town offices is casual — some of the staff walk around barefoot. But the relaxed approach ends when it comes to protecting Luno against hackers who have made off with bitcoin worth millions from other exchanges.

“We take security as seriously as big banks do but when we’re at the office we’re about working together and creating a collaborative environment,” Swanepoel said.

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