Blockchain investment firm Digital Currency Group (DCG) has acquired Luno, a retail-focused cryptocurrency exchange with over 5 million customers spanning over 40 countries.
Luno will continue to operate as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of DCG, the companies said. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed in an announcement Wednesday.
The deal marks another shift in strategy for DCG (which also wholly owns CoinDesk) as it makes a full acquisition of a solidly retail-focused business.
“We have invested in many retail businesses all over the world – including nearly two dozen exchanges,” said Mark Murphy, DCG's chief operating officer. “But this is the first subsidiary that is a wallet and an exchange, which of course have large numbers of retail investors.”
DCG, which recently launched a new crypto mining division called Foundry, has been quite focused on institutional crypto businesses such as Genesis and the brisk cryptocurrency lending market.
Going forward, Murphy said DCG isn’t actively looking to make more acquisitions at the parent company level. “But Luno intends to expand globally both organically and through acquisitions," he said. "We view this deal as a potential first step towards a ‘roll up’ strategy under Luno.”
Launched in 2013, Luno was initially based in Singapore before moving headquarters to London a couple of years later. The firm has a team of close to 400, and is a leading exchange on the African continent and a major player in Southeast Asia.
The exchange, which has raised some $13.8 million in funding to date, first received investment from DCG back in 2014, and its relationship with DCG founder and CEO Barry Silbert dates back even earlier.
“We've known DCG for seven years,” said Luno co-founder and CEO Marcus Swanepoel. “I can remember when we were five people in a room, and being on a call with Barry talking about the future of crypto and where the industry is going to go. So for seven years, we've been working together and having those conversations.”
Swanepoel said Luno is already in a strong financial position, and that there have been “multiple people over the years trying to acquire the company.”
DCG’s conglomerate status in the crypto industry was an attractive feature for Luno, he added, as well as how a retail business can play a part within that.
“I think after the announcement of Foundry two weeks ago, DCG is now touching every single type of thing, every single type of market,” Swanepoel said. “But two missing pieces were having a strong presence in frontier markets or emerging markets, and they didn’t have a retail business. So we kind of really filled the puzzle.”
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.