New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Easy Crypto has raised $ 11.75 million (NZD 17 million) in Series A funding as the company prepares for its future initial public offering (IPO).
The round was led by the Nuance Connected Capital venture capital fund. The 17 million NZD figure “appears to have set a new record in New Zealand” for the largest Series A funding from a local company, according to an October 6 announcement by Easy Crypto.
The financing round marks an important milestone for the company. Co-Founder and CEO Janine Grainger has expressed how difficult it is to attract investment in the early stages of the company as they operate in the “edge” cryptocurrency sector.
Funds will be used to accelerate growth through product and technology development, investing in talent, and expanding into new markets in Indonesia and the Philippines to serve the unbanked.
The round was 50% oversubscribed and included the participation of many local and international companies, including the providers 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 Grainger and to date has had sales of $ 760 million (NZD 1.1 billion) with a customer base of over 150,000 in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Brazil. The platform hosts buy and sell services for 151 digital assets and also sells a range of hardware wallets from Trezor and Ledger.
According to Tech Crunch – which hasn’t yet listed Easy Crypto’s latest funding round – the previous largest Series A funding rounds in New Zealand came from analytics firm Joyous and blockchain-based FinTec service provider TradeWindow, both of which were $ 10.3 million (Jan. Million NZD). each. The New Zealand-based artificial intelligence (AI) company raised the highest amount of money in the world last month in America through a Series A funding round of $ 15 million ($ 21.6 million).
Janine Grainger, co-founder and CEO of Easy Crypto, spoke to the New Zealand Herald on October 6 and said the company plans to use the funds to strengthen its overseas operations and target new markets in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and the Philippines:
“The reason we target these markets is because there is a large population with no or no bank account that does not have the same access to financial products as you and me.”
Grainger also said the company is looking into a possible IPO.
“We’re still in the process of figuring out what it looks like and what plans we have for the future, but we will most likely consider going public,” she said.
The CEO said Easy Crypto had sales of $ 3.46 million (NZD 5 million) in the past fiscal year and is well on its way to double that amount this fiscal year.
According to the company, the customer base has “grown almost five times in the last 12 months”. Grainger told the NZ Herald that the company’s path to success was difficult as it took 13 months to make its first investment before raising $ 11.75 million in three weeks in 2021.
“Cryptocurrency is considered a bit far away, a bit volatile, and I think it will take a while to find investors who may be strategic and forward-looking to participate in what we do,” she said .
Related: New Zealand Central Bank issues digital currency paper
Something bad happened to the industry in New Zealand when the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia fell victim to a massive hack in 2019. Around 16 million to 18 million crypto dollars have been withdrawn from the platform.
Cointelegraph reported in July that a former Cryptopia employee committed the crime of stealing approximately $ 172,000 in cryptocurrency obtained by making copies of users’ private keys while working at the company.