New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange Easy Crypto has raised $11.75 million ($17 million) in Series A funding as the company anticipates a possible public offering (IPO) in the future. The group is led by venture capital fund Nuance Connected Capital.
New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange Easy Crypto has raised $11.75 million ($17 million) in Series A funding as the company anticipates a possible public offering (IPO) in the future. The group is led by venture capital fund Nuance Connected Capital. According to an Oct. 6 announcement by Easy Crypto, the NZD 17 million figure appears to have "set a new record in New Zealand" for the largest Series A funding round from a local company. The financing round marks an important stage for the company. Co-founder and CEO Janine Granger reveals how difficult it is to raise early-stage investments due to working in the “coastal” crypto sector.
The funds will be used to accelerate growth through product and technology development, talent investment, and expansion of new markets in Indonesia and the Philippines to serve banking. The round was overwritten by 50% and involved the participation of a number of local and international companies including KiwiSaver, Pathfinder, Icehouse Ventures, Even Capital, GDP Venture (Indonesia), Hutt Capital (USA) and Seven Peaks Ventures (USA). Easy Crypto was founded in 2017 by siblings Janine and Alan Granger and has so far achieved a turnover of 760 million US dollars (1.1 billion New Zealand dinars) with a customer base of over 150,000 in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Brazil. The platform provides services to buy and sell 151 digital assets and also sells a number of Trezor and Ledger hardware portfolios.
New Zealand's largest Series A funding round previously came from think tank Joyous and blockchain-based FinTec service provider TradeWindow, both of which have $10.3 million (15 NZD US dollars raised 15 million) per person. Vital-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) won the largest international amount last month from a Series A financing round of $15 million (NZD 21.6 million) in the United States. Janine Granger, co-founder and CEO of Easy Crypto, spoke to the New Zealand Herald on Oct. 6 and said the company plans to use the funds to expand its operations overseas and enter new markets in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and the Philippines.: "The reason we're targeting this market is because there are a lot of people who don't have a bank, or don't have enough banking, and don't have the same access to financial products as you and I do."
Granger also said the company was considering going public. "We are still working on what it looks like and what plans we have for the future, but we will most likely watch an IPO," he said. The CEO said Easy Crypto had sales of $3.46 million (NZD 5 million) in the last fiscal year and is on its way to more than double that amount this fiscal year. According to the company, the customer base has "nearly increased fivefold in the last 12 months". Granger told the NZ Herald that the company's path to success was difficult as it took him 13 months to land his first $11.75 million investment before raising $11.75 million in three weeks in 2021. "Cryptocurrencies are seen as a bit immobile, a little volatile, and I think it took us a while to find investors who might have a far-sighted and strategic vision to do what we do," he said.
In New Zealand there was a kind of industrial meltdown when the now-defunct cryptocurrency Cryptopia fell victim to a major hack in 2019. Around $16 million to $18 million of cryptocurrencies have been withdrawn from the platform. It was reported in July that a former Cryptopia employee pleaded guilty to stealing about $172,000 in cryptocurrency obtained from copies of users' private keys while working for the company. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has published an issue presenting its perspective on Central Bank digital currencies (CBDC).
The document outlines the purpose, design of the CBDC, and the potential benefits and risks involved. The bank will seek comment on the proposed document no later than December 6. The document focuses on the “universal” CBDC, a digital currency issued to “any person or company who wishes to use it”. "Such general purpose CBDCs would be closer to cash and in a better position to play the role of central bank money than wholesale CBDCs," the RBNZ wrote. The central bank stressed that New Zealand's potential CBDC is digital money, which banks issue along with cash. Even though New Zealand's cash circulation is growing, it's still "proportionately less used in transactions than most people," according to the banknote.
“We want people to know that the case of holding money is well understood and accepted by reserve banks. The money is here to last as long as some of us need it,” said RBNZ Deputy Governor Christian Hawksby. The document also identifies two major CBDC technology designs, including account-based CBDCs that rely on traditional account-based structures and token-based CBDCs enabled by new technologies such as blockchain and public and private key cryptography. According to the RBNZ, symbol-based CBDCs can allow certain actions such as renting or paying bills to be performed automatically via smart contracts, reducing the need for manual or third-party engagement. Token-based CBDCs could also help develop new mass payment services, the bank added.
The central bank also said the proposed CBDC provides an opportunity to create a form of money that balances interests in privacy and traceability. “Consumers may want complete confidentiality when making transactions for legal or illegal reasons. Meanwhile, government agencies may wish to maintain some traceability of balances or CBDC tokens to reduce tax evasion or evasion or money laundering and terrorist financing,” the RBNZ notes. The RBNZ officially announced its plans to open a public consultation on the CBDC in July. Last year, Hawksby said New Zealand had "no plans to issue a CBDC".