Maria – LUNO: “Blockchain is A ONCE in a LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY” Women & Emerging markets


Dear crypto community and blockchain
buddies across the globe welcome back to Cryptonites the no BS blockchain
channel built with the community for the community and tonight I have an amazing
guest countryman jet Lou no the lovely Maria thank you so much for coming
tonight so Maria we had lots of really
interesting discussions last night and you did a panel right yeah super women
in black a super woman in blockchain yeah that was a lot of fun and that’s
what I’d love to share a similar message to the community if that’s okay with you
as you know unfortunately not many women are a part of this beautiful crypto
space but you got into it which is great do you mind telling us a little bit
about your journey and why you got into this space sure so so yeah I’m very
lucky because in my company I’m one of many
many many girls and we’re we have over thirty percent thirty percent of females
yes so it’s really high like in terms of industry standards across take finance
and how well my story is quite quite strange because I am NOT I didn’t have
any tech knowledge and I definitely finance or economics I studied
humanities so I came from a humanities background and I worked I always kind of
I was looking for different jobs that would allow me to make some sort of
impact as silly and and you know simple and banal as it sounds like you know I
was always trying to to find a project something that you know will be quite
meaningful I started working in think tanks went through sort of public
affairs companies and and then landed in tick beforehand I actually worked on a
film project in Ecuador in the filming in the Andes so I also tried the art
world but but I landed in the tech industry when I worked in London in two
startups and most recently set up where I was basically in charge of expansion
internationally for a couple of countries I was
charge of Singapore India Poland and France and and and it was a fantastic
job and and sort of very well suited for my skill set but I was I got into
cryptocurrencies along the way so unfortunately not as their lazy you
probably but a couple of years ago and and it was my personal interest they
were always wanted to go to finance but never had this big push and then Luna
opened their offices were moved their headquarters to London and and yeah I I
got the I got the job and there was the best move ever it’s like the most
fantastic inspiring industry full of so many passionate and driven people and
they I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to make such a huge impact
on people’s lives of the world and it’s yeah it’s a really great time to be in
blockchain that’s awesome women out there if you’re
hearing this please understand that it is a very exciting space and it’s funny
how many studies show that women tend to kind of gear off into Liberal Studies
rather than science but I have a question related to women you know these
days there are a lot of headlines saying that without women there’s no mass
adoption you know I would love to hear comments on that do you agree with that
statement or what’s your take so yeah in terms of mass adoption of
cryptocurrencies or generally technologies
cryptocurrency okay well I believe so I think this is huge you know getting to
resonate with females is incredibly important in any business with
cryptocurrencies we see unfortunately trains that across the markets Luna is
present in and we were present in 40 markets worldwide starting with emerging
markets like South Africa and Nigeria Indonesia Malaysia and European markets
across the board females are less active in the crypto space there in terms of
awareness they score lower than the male so there’s a lot of work to to be done
and then this is for various reasons for example in you know since gender plays a
role in South Africa in the research that we commissioned with a with a big
company that does conducts market research
canta it’s it’s it’s quite obvious that my males are significantly more aware
and more invested in crypto but there’s you know this is because females are
less confident with making financial decisions they’re a little bit more
risk-averse but I think all of it comes from lack of education in turn like
across the board in terms of males and females we did we have so much to do in
terms of driving awareness and and yeah this is one of the missions that we have
as you know and I guess you guys too you’re trying to empower people to
actually understand what we’re doing what is about and let them participate
in this in this incredible moment and revolution that’s happening exactly so
trying to edutainment Emoto is educating people to educate them with a little bit
of entertainment as well hopefully we can achieve that all together right it’s
a lot of Education that probably scares people makes them feel a risk averse as
you’re saying so tonight we have you were mentioning a few African countries
which is perfect a perfect segue to the main theme something that I’m extremely
interested in because I feel like we spend a lot of time on institutional
players institutional money not enough time on emerging markets and especially
not enough time on Africa because we talk about Venezuela we talk about
central South America but very little focus on the second largest continent in
the world occupying a quarter of all the land in the world isn’t that crazy right
so don’t you feel like we’re not covering or not giving enough you know
credit in coverage on Africa as a continent 100% I think I mean we I think
this is also part of the reason why I got into this space in the first place
and to this company because the company was founded in South Africa and we first
conquered market so we started conquering markets from the emerging
markets so we started with South Africa Sudan Nigeria on the African continent
on track to open in 10 to 20 markets in Africa this year so you could it be
exciting and like no matter what other people say in terms of Africa being
behind in adoption etc we see something completely a completely different it
cryptocurrencies are taking off insanely well in in in South in South Africa and I
gyah the motivations behind it are very different than compared to what’s
happening in Europe so this is a super interesting part because it’s an actual
people ask for use cases and and you know what kind of value cryptocurrencies
bring to our life how can we see this making a difference right now and people
in emerging markets they do that they see the value and they use it as an
alternative and it’s more attractive to what they actually deal with in terms of
Finance exactly they see the value there’s a need right there’s a clear
case study or use case as you’re saying and it’s also fantastic how crypto
awareness awareness of cryptocurrencies in the industry is incredibly high in
emerging markets and it’s almost like the mindset has already changed the
collective mindset culturally people are just more open to new technologies to
disruption and we don’t see this in Europe which is what is quite quite
interesting because there’s so much capital in education in technology and
innovation here and but we’re quite far behind that is really but it’s really
good to know that you guys were such a success in South Africa almost like
unbelievable it’s a crazy story isn’t it how you guys just blew up in that area
and showed that there is a clear need for it I’d love to ask you a question
because obviously Africa is a huge continent and there’s so many different
regions nations cultures so I know based on your experience that you guys are
present in South Africa and also Nigeria is that correct have you seen any
differences or similarities between the two countries are please let me let us
sure so I think there’s a lot of similarities obviously South Africa is
is a you know the most developed country one of the most developed countries in
the continent and as there are huge differences in terms of wealth you know
compared to compared to to Nigeria or other countries however what is
prevalent is that first of all there’s high appetite for crypto currencies for
reasons such as cross-border transfers so this is a huge pain point for people
living there there’s a lot of exchange controls in place in South Africa and
Nigeria where even u.s. dollar is not in circulation so the exchange rate prices
are in the black market and they’re they’re absolutely insane and and and
people go to cryptocurrencies for to make business cross-border and this is
an application that we you know it’s not super necessary in Europe because it’s
not so difficult for us to to do our banking to to get our you know pay with
with our money across border within Europe in Africa those applications are
trying to be important and so this goes for e-commerce for cross-border
transfers and we see this across the board eighty eighty three percent of our
respondents in South Africa still said that it’s an investment the the reason
why they’re into cryptocurrency but thirty five percent said they they want
to do a peer-to-peer transfers so it’s actual you know they see the value in
making transactions there and and they see it as a better alternative because
it reduces their costs of doing this with net with traditional methods like
normal bank transfer ISM that’s awesome so cross-border transactions we also
talked about an investment do people use a sort of value obviously the Zimbabwean
dollar is a crazy story I believe in 2009 and switched to the US dollar but
was it a hundred million Zimbabwe dollars equals one penny or something
like that it was absolutely insane and way you have hyperinflation this so much
appetite for for alternatives for especially for currencies or any sort of
assets that are and there are not linked to the central authority to the
government when you have such a volatile situation politically you run for
alternatives for for better better place to put your wealth into and and I think
Jim Bob was a perfect example like Venezuela as well and different you know
countries that struggle with with extremely high inflation like South
Sudan where cryptocurrency gives even more value into into this base yeah so
you’re mentioning so not only in Bob way experience like terrible hyperinflation
but South Sudan as well yes are there any other countries currently or they’re
kind of like the main countries that are kind of suffering in in Africa
Angola’s from of the bigger ones angola is also in unfortunately pack i said
they can’t disclose yet where we’re going to be opening our operation soon
but in the coming months you’ll be able to see you know are spreading around and
hopefully bringing a lot more people making the people’s lives easier in in
countries where the difference levels of struggles are our present in terms of
their their finances and and you know banking themselves and with with the
existing infrastructure that is very cool and those ten countries will be
within the african continent yes Wow so not just two of the strongest or
wealthiest nations but many people get accessed yes absolutely obviously we
want to we want to get you know presidents across the entire African
continent you know regulation is a big pain point
for for companies like ours we obviously self-regulate not having regulation in
place doesn’t mean that it’s illegal so but but this obviously is a reason one
of very many reasons why people are scared to get into crypto so although we
have we see crazy adoption in in in Africa it could be even higher if we
tackle the you know things to trust lack of trust and security in people’s minds
you know the perception of crypto a lack of regulation lack of education as well
so I think this will these are the reasons why people are a little bit
scared to get into it but yet there’s a little bit more less risk-averse and the
Europeans mr. Bursch that’s good we’re a little bit a granola that’s not bad so
in terms of the threats so like as you’re saying the legal side or the
political side are those kind of like the biggest fears in terms of how
cryptocurrency will unroll from this point onwards to the future is that what
you guys tell her oh wait no we don’t fear a regulation at all we I think it’s
an amazing opportunity we just want to get it as soon as possible okay good we
have been so fragile ating forever we used to be a we started off as a b2b
company into 13 actually working for a South Africa’s
biggest bank on a Bitcoin pilot so we had sort of b2b experience we moved to B
to C because banks were moving too slow in the space so we pivoted into a
consumer company and I think it’s you know the mission and the messaging
around empowering people to sort of upgrade to the better financial system
that we we are building right now is is a more fascinating and compelling cause
but but we did work with banks that we were self regulating from the very
beginning in terms of kyc in AML so we just can’t wait for regulation and we’re
trying to help governments across all the other countries that we are in to to
help drive this forward and to you know it’s it’s quite I think Japan is
definitely the pioneer in terms of this you know happening but countries are
scared to make that first step because it’s so unprecedented the whole world is
looking at them you know we see a very positive environment in in Africa also
in Europe I mean I myself am involved in in Italy and France and and it’s a
little bit slower relatively to to what’s happening in the emerging markets
but but we have to push for it and and work with part with companies like yours
you know make partners in this tiny little space and tiny industry that we
have to to get that going so this once regulation comes I think people will be
more open to enter into this space together stronger right always try to
help each other out so that’s really really cool you were talking about how
you see lots of growth in Africa obviously you guys are expanding in 10
countries what are some metrics obviously you know you had to make that
decision earlier talking about awareness and actual ownership of cryptocurrency
what are some of the metrics are do you know a few key figures that make us
believe that okay Africa will drive growth and will help this become reality
yes so so as I said we conducted this research across ten markets one of them
South Africa and it is absolutely fascinating we saw 69 so nearly 70
percent awareness of cryptocurrencies which is Sun
70% of people’s that I forgot know know about cryptocurrency Bitcoin itself or the driver of that awareness but they
seventy percent of people that’s more than in Switzerland or France isn’t it
Hana persons France is 37% doubling France exactly of the of the people who
know about it thirty percent seventy nine percent own
crypto so what’s with we see across the board is that in emerging markets that
we’re in the awareness is you know almost nearly a definitely over 50
percent in Malaysia Indonesia and South Africa nearly eighty percent but then
the ownership is disproportionate to that said the you know we’re still
struggling to get that you know from the awareness to to ownership but in the
European countries it’s there’s no country except for a Lithuania that’s
where the crypto awareness is over fifty percent and then there and then the
ownership falls down significantly as well so as I said you know there has
been this sort of collective mindset change happening in the emerging markets
and not in Europe that is amazing I’ve never seen 70
percent even the u.s. I was in Japan for the past 11 years and even in Japan you
never get 70 percent of awareness and more than a third in terms of ownership
yes that’s amazing so if I if I may ask why are people so
aware of Bitcoin cryptocurrency and obviously as you said for owning there
are three reasons as a store of value and investment vehicle and then
cross-border transactions but how like how did everyone suddenly find out about
this well I think it’s it’s usually the case of disruptive technologies that it
stars in the emerging markets likely because you have you have such a big gap
they you know technology is allowing two for four different communities and
different countries to really catch up with with where we are and they feel
those pain points around you know sort of economic equality inequality and
and you know enormous fees and government instability so they look for
alternatives I’m I like our company South African our founders are from
South Africa so so we’ve been in the space a long time and and education is a
huge mission of ours we you know we really do dedicate a lot of resources to
creating content that is more accessible to really tap into the people who have
never heard of crypto we’re not just trying to sort of entertain and and and
communicate with people that already are in the space we’re trying to really do
get more kids that will go to the 90 percent yeah that would be amazing
but again they just have more use cases for cryptocurrency and that’s why they
they see the opportunity there I think I think we’ll get there here as well I
really hope so yeah so you guys hear it there’s lots of growth potential in
Africa and here’s some great metrics that really bring hope right and let’s
stop focusing on institutional players let’s work on emerging markets and make
sure that everyone knows that these are really people and that’s really early
stage of adoption I think mass adoption will definitely come it will not happen
overnight we can’t snap her fingers it’s a process but I think education
regulation are key in getting there and I’m super pleased to see Africa
performing so well whenever we do the research we also do ongoing research to
compare those trends across all the markets were in so so we’ll be
publishing more data on that and like on the you know trains like how is it going
over time and weights you know which could you tell us a little bit about Lu
no and where we could maybe access this data or or follow you somewhere sure
sure so we’re wallet in an exchange basically we were trying to get everyone
to be for everyone to be able to buy in a very easy and smooth way and encrypter
with fiat currency and then we operate exchanges as well for traders we also
have an API for businesses merchants even banks to integrate with with crypto
with our platform and we we have nearly three million customers
so very Merry million customers yes third mind
so we basically dominate in in South Africa where market leaders in South
Africa and Nigeria Indonesia Malaysia in Europe were very new but we all we have
nearly three million customers so the growth has been absolutely absolutely
crazy and we’re doing a lot around education so like it’s like you asked
where we can find this information we work with a lot of news outlets but we
have a blog and learning portal where we’re publishing this data regularly Wow
we also have a YouTube channel so Lu no TV where you can also get some snippets
of what we we’ve uncovered and what we know about our customers it’s very
interesting because it’s such a rapidly evolving industry it is speed of light
almost right but we’ll definitely include your links for the research for
your Lu no Channel reports available and the white paper and then in South Africa
it would be probably an interesting I’d be amazing in terms of the three million
users are the majority in South Africa so I we were don’t disclose in tourism
in each market but I can tell you that we’ve entered Europe very recently and
the majority of so quite naturally a majority of our customers are in the
emerging markets obviously I know that Europe is is going to to sort of go over
that very quickly because of various reasons but even the purchase power and
and and you know the population that we’re always here versus where we
launched in all sort of in the entire European Union so that gives enormous
opportunity for growth here but I’m very excited about Africa so so I’ll keep you
posted yeah I’m definitely gonna follow the
news I feel like this is definitely a continent that needs more exposure we
talked about Central America South America of Venezuela many many times so
it was absolutely lovely having you tonight Maria thank you so much for
preferring facts figures and lots of cool stories and anecdotes about a
really important market which is Africa and we’ll definitely follow you and and
we look forward to all the reports your to produce please come back again soon
anytime I can be I can come back anytime thank you for having me it’s a pleasure
and we will be sharing a lot of data with you guys so I’m sure we can
collaborate on a lot of research together as well
really appreciate thank you so much for everything you you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *