Luno is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange, headquartered in London. The project started in August 2013 under the name of BitX but was later on rebranded and became Luno. At the time of writing, the business has already expanded its services to several continents with offices in Singapore, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Jakarta, and Lagos. The exchange is operated by Luno Pte. Ltd. (registration number 2012 0954 5R), incorporated in Singapore. Luno has done a great job in informing its clients not only about the establishing company but also about the entities, running the exchange’s services in separate markets. They are as follows: for Indonesia - PT Luno Indonesia Ltd (registration number 4014111731102609); for Malaysia - Luno Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (registration number 1136927 A); for Nigeria - BitX Payments Limited (registration number RC1216337); for South Africa - Luno (Pty) Ltd (registration number 2013/075107/07); for the United Kingdom - Luno Money Limited (registration number 10388856); for Zambia - Luno Technology Zambia Ltd (registration number 120180009295).
Through LinkedIn, we can track the CEO and co-founder of the platform – Marcus Swanepoel. Prior to establishing the company, he had worked at big financial institutions, such as Standard Chartered, 3i, and Morgan Stanley. Aside from the substantial professional experience, he also has a strong academic background, holding two MBA degrees from Wharton Business School and INSEAD and a CFA license.
As Luno’s “About Us” page suggests, its team is comprised of young individuals, coming from a wide range of backgrounds. According to the information there, the company employs professionals with experience in engineering, finance and industry with a history of working for leading tech and financial companies like Google, Amazon, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, EY and others. Luno refers to its team members as “the world’s most international cryptocurrency team.”
The information on the website describes the business as “a leading global cryptocurrency company with over 2.5 million customers in 40 countries and a team of over 150.” It also states that Luno is backed by leading investors such as Balderton Capital, RMI, Digital Currency Group, Naspers, and Venturra. At the time of this writing, according to information from Crunchbase, Luno had raised a total of $13.8 million in four rounds. In January 2017, the company revealed that it had been accepted into a government sandbox supervised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Although the exchange remains unregulated to date, it is worth noting that, all in all, it is clear that Luno puts great emphasis on transparency and credibility, which is something vital in the shady world of cryptocurrency exchanges.
Although Luno is open to almost all countries, the fact that it has established offices in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Zambia, and Nigeria, makes it clear that it puts a strong focus on local presence in emerging markets. Aside from the exchange platform, Luno offers other features as well, such as a brokerage service, an integrated wallet (the coins in your wallet are under Luno’s control, and you can’t get access to the private key), and an API for developers. The exchange supports individual and business accounts.
When it comes to security, Luno reveals that it keeps users’ funds in “deep freeze storage”, which according to the definition on the exchange’s website, is a multi-signature wallet, with private keys stored in different bank vaults. They also add that “no single person ever has access to more than one key.” According to the Luno’s team explanation of the employed deep freeze storage technology, in order for a Bitcoin to be spent, it requires a coordinated effort with multiple layers of encryption and security checks. However, it is worth noting that the platform keeps a part of users’ funds in hot wallets as well. They back their decision by explaining that the exchange holds one of the keys, while the other one is held by the “multi-signature custodian leader BitGo.” The reason for storing funds in hot wallets is to facilitate instant Bitcoin withdrawals. Luno also employs two-factor authentication, SSL certificates, and other standard security measures. For users’ convenience, Luno allows for log-in with Facebook or Google profiles, which is something that contradicts all the security measures, mentioned above.
It is worth noting that Luno has a well-structured website with lots of information and a rich knowledge base. It relies on continuous communication with its clients and tries to be as open as possible. However, at the time of this writing, its online reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Luno’s Trustpilot page is full of negative user reviews raising complaints about locked or suspended accounts, missing or delayed fund deposits, slow transactions, and others. Even Quora have several topics where frustrated users share their experience with the exchange’s services. Although Luno tries to address the majority of the complaints, forums like Bitcointalk and Reddit are also full of unsatisfied customers which state the lack of adequate customer support as the main problem of the exchange. To overcome the situation, Luno made a separate “Complaints” page where users can report their problems.
At the time of this writing, there is no information about hacker attacks or government investigations targeted at the Luno exchange. The only reported case was related to the Malaysian branch of the business. Its bank accounts were frozen by local tax authorities due to “tax discrepancies.” Luno insisted that it had employed strict KYC policies and added that it would fully cooperate with the investigating authorities. The investigation was concluded quickly, and the exchange continued its operation.