In the crypto world, all users are supposed to be equal – cryptocurrencies are the new vanguards of decentralization, true globalization, communication and sharing across countries and across borders. In a world with free access to information, cryptocurrencies aim to make sharing and distributing funds as easy and as simple as sharing information. In the end, what else is value, if not extra information assigned to an arbitrary symbol, be it a lump of metal, a piece of paper or a random string of numbers on the screen?
However, when it comes to practical application, the real world is still lagging behind. Despite the ideas that fuel cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency exchanges are still bound by laws, regulations and borders. As a consequence, although all crypto users are equal, some users are more equal than others.
For example, most “global” exchanges today only let you buy crypto for USD, and in some cases, maybe they’ll throw EUR into the mix. This means that millions of users all over the world have to pay exchange fees for fiat currencies on top of all other fees they may encounter on the cryptocurrency exchange.
In today’s Luno review, we’ll take a look at a different kind of cryptocurrency exchange. Focusing on developing countries and selling Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum for a number of underrepresented fiat currencies, Luno claims to be the first truly global exchange.
Considering the fact that the exchange is very popular in countries like Malaysia, South Africa, Indonesia and Nigeria, while also offering its services in most European countries and with a wallet available worldwide, that claim certainly appears to be true.
Services offered by the company include exchanging fiat currencies for BTC, BCH and ETH, trading on the cryptocurrency market and making transactions and purchases using their Luno wallet.
We’ve prepared an in-depth Luno review to tackle some of the more pervasive questions users may have, including “Is Luno safe?”, “How high are Luno fees?”, “What is the Luno Bitcoin price?”, “Is there a Luno app?” and others.
Just like cryptocurrencies, not all exchanges are created equal. Keep reading our review to find out if Luno is the same as every other exchange or in fact more equal than others.
The company was founded as BitX in Singapore in 2013. It came a long way from those humble beginnings and became a global exchange with headquarters in London, Cape Town and Singapore, offering its services in South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria the UK and 35 European countries. But, how did this transformation take place? How did BitX become Luno, the exchange we know today?
Well, already in 2013, Luno (then BitX) was purchased by Switchless, which enabled the company to receive several series of investments – first a round of seed funding worth USD $824,000 in 2014, followed by $4 million provided by Naspers, Venturra Capital and the Digital Currency Group, and lastly $9 million headed by Balderton Capital, who were joined by Rand Merchant Investment Holdings and the Digital Currency Group.
The name change came in January 2017, when the company underwent a complete rebranding process. The rebranding came at the right time and, since it was well thought-out, it allowed the company to expand and grow more than ever before. The idea was to provide the same kind of service as Coinbase, but to make their services available all over the world, especially in underserved areas.
In September 2017, the company made plans to extend its services (including both the exchange and the Bitcoin wallet) to Europe. The plan came to fruition after it raised $9 million in funding.
Today, Luno offers a consumer-oriented wallet for crypto transactions and storage, in addition to trading and exchange services in more than 40 countries.
To become a client, you need to sign up for a Luno wallet – either online or by using the free mobile app, available both on iOS and Android. You can fund your account through bank transfers or by using a credit card.
If you’re familiar with other cryptocurrency exchanges, Luno offers the same functionality, but with the added benefit of supporting some rare fiat currencies.
For more on getting started with the exchange, as well as the sign-up process, read the following segment of our Luno review.
There are several ways to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on the Luno exchange.
Here’s a list of supported systems and payment methods:
To buy either Ethereum, Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, follow these steps:
Before you gain access to your wallet, however, you will have to complete a verification process. All users must supply their full name, verify their email address and accept the user agreement with all the terms and conditions. Additionally, you may have to verify your phone number, provide a valid ID issued by the government and provide a proof of residence. These conditions are dependent upon local laws and regulations.
Your mobile number is one way to utilize Luno’s two factor authentication. For additional security, a unique code will be sent to your mobile phone every time you try to log into your account. This option prevents theft in case some of your info ends up in the wrong hands. In case that happens, you can block your account instantly and then send a ticket to Luno’s Help Service. They will assist you with resolving the issue and recovering your account.
Once you’re done with the sign up process and the additional verification steps, this is what you can expect to see when you access your Luno account:
Now that you have a general idea of what the Luno exchange looks like, it’s time for the fun part: buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Don’t go anywhere, the key part of this Luno review is coming up next.
Whether you are looking to buy/sell Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or Ether, the process is essentially the same. We’ll be using Bitcoin by way of example, since it’s the biggest and the best known of the three.
There are two options to choose from when it comes to buying/selling BTC on Luno.
The first option is the Instant option.
From your home screen, access the “Buy” page. You will have to specify how much BTC you want to buy. You can either enter the exact amount of BTC or you can enter the price in your local currency – and buy as much BTC as you can get with the designated amount. Of course, you have to have the necessary fund you your Luno account for the transaction to go through. Once you do that, you can press “Buy” and your Bitcoin wallet will instantly receive the coins. You don’t have to wait at all – so no confirmation waiting times, since you are essentially buying from Luno’s hot wallets, and your wallet is a part of the same system.
When you are looking to sell, the process is the same. The only difference is, you have to click on the “Sell” button. Specify how much BTC you are selling or the equivalent amount of your local fiat currency – and the BTC will instantly be withdrawn from your account, while your local currency wallet will fill up.
The instant option is great if you are in a hurry. However, many users prefer to trade on the exchange instead of selling instantly at the best price.
When you want to trade on the exchange, choose the “Exchange” option. By using this feature, you can choose a set BTC price and the amount you will sell when BTC reaches that price. You just choose a couple of parameters and the system sells or buys instantly when those conditions are met. For example, you can choose to sell 1 BTC when BTC climbs to a pretty high point. Alternatively, if you want to buy BTC cheap, you can set to buy BTC when the price drops below a certain threshold. There’s no need to monitor the Luno Bitcoin price. The system does that for you.
Although these two options for buying and selling offer great functionality, they are pretty standard and users have come to expect both from a cryptocurrency exchange. However, there are a few features that make this exchange stand out. For that, hop on to the next section of our Luno review.
Among some of the more outstanding features provided by Luno, we feel that we should point out its real-time feed, with relevant information on the cryptocurrency market delivered instantly and with no delays. For those looking for a bit more depth, you can access detailed charts with price trends over the last couple of days or even months. Additionally, the company allows its users to access its API in order to integrate automated trading options. Also, you can export a wide variety of data, including reports and trade history and trade history, in simple CSV form. Even from these few lines, it is obvious that the exchange has options that will appeal both to beginners and advances users, programmers and experienced traders. Those confused by automated trading, APIs and CVS can take advantage of Luno’s fast withdrawals and deposits, its competitive fees and additional functionality that other cryptocurrency exchanges do not offer.
As an example, you don’t have to use Luno only to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. It makes it easy to send and receive Bitcoin, especially between Luno users.
Welcome to sending BTC by email! If another exchange user wants to send you BTC (or vice-versa), all you need is your email address.
Still, if you want to receive BTC from someone who is not a user of the Luno exchange, you will have to provide them with your public Bitcoin address.
From your home screen, select “Wallets” from the menu. Choose your BTC wallet, and then select the “Receive Bitcoin” option. From there, click on “Add Address”. Luno will provide you with a new Bitcoin address you can use to receive Bitcoin. You can use a new BTC address every time you want to receive Bitcoin. The BTC received by the separate addresses pools in your wallet, so you can access and see all of your coins in one place.
Doesn’t sound all too shabby so far, right? Sure, but how much is all of that going to cost you? Read the rest of the review to find out!
When it comes to fees, Luno is completely open about the amount it charges. A complete list of fees for every cryptocurrency and every trading pair can be found on the company’s official website.
We’ve taken a bit of time to go over the tables, and we’re here to bring you the takeaways.
The following services offered by Luno are completely free:
If you are looking to receive Bitcoin by using a Bitcoin address provided by Luno, it will cost you BTC 0.0002. There are no other receiving fees. However, the company does charge withdrawal fees, primarily:
When it comes to depositing funds to your fiat currency Luno wallet, it is free in most cases. However, Nigerian users do have to pay a 1.58% (however, the fee is never higher than NGN 2,070, no matter the amount) when using PayU to deposit funds (either by debit card, credit card or bank transfer). Also, South Africans are expected to pay a ZAR 20.00 + 5.00% deposit fee when making cash deposits. The fee can be avoided by using electronic transfers, though.
What most people want to hear about are the trade fees, though. This is an exchange, after all, so that’s what matters the most.
The exchange naturally doesn’t charge a maker fee. The lowest taker fee, at 0.25%, is charged by Luno for trading BTC and IDR. For trading between BTC and all other supported fiat currencies, including MYR, NGN and ZAR, the taker fee is between 1.00% and 0.50%, depending on your trading volume over the last 30 days. You reach the 0,75% threshold by trading more than 10 BTC, while you will have to trade 100+ BTC to be charged the 0.50% fee.
There are some users who argue that the Luno fees are relatively high compared to some other exchanges out there. Even if it were so, it is important to point out that this is the only cryptocurrency that accepts certain fiat currencies, not to mention that the overall number of fiat currencies supported is definitely among the highest. Consequently, Luno is the best option for a large number of underserved markets, since trading with Luno, which supports your fiat currency, is definitely cheaper than buying a more popular global currency first and losing a lot of money on extortionate exchange rates.
Apart from that, Luno’s developers are constantly working on decreasing the Luno fees. For one of the solutions that recently came out, read the next section of our Luno review.
On February 14, 2018, Luno’s developers announced that they were integrating SegWit with the aim of reducing Luno fees across the board.
The term SegWit refers to Segregated Witness, a new and improved way to send Bitcoin. SegWit is able to reduce the size of transactions by restructuring the information that is sent. Consequently, more transactions can fit into a single block, which means two things: faster and cheaper transactions for the end user.
Luno already partially implemented SegWit back in December, but only to send Bitcoin. After implementing SegWit throughout its internal systems, the fees paid by customers dropped by 25%. Luno plans to transfer all users to new SegWit addresses, which will allow the exchange to even further reduce its fees.
When you are receiving Bitcoin, you can now send your SegWit address to the sender. The steps are the same as before. Access your Luno account – go to the main menu and select “Wallets” – choose your BTC wallet – select “Receive Bitcoin” – select “Add address”. The old Bitcoin addresses are referred to as “legacy Bitcoin addresses”. From now on, you should aim to use the SegWit addresses, even though the legacy addresses will still work just fine. It is easy to tell them apart if you want to, though: old addresses start with a 1, while SegWit addresses start with a 3.
In essence, for lower fees – use the SegWit address and send to and from a SegWit wallet. Luno is always working to improve its service, and SegWit integration is just one example.
When it comes to transactions, however, there is still one thing left to consider apart from the Luno fees. Just like with other cryptocurrency exchanges, this one also has certain limits when it comes to buying and selling cryptocurrencies. For more info on that, don’t miss the next section of our Luno review!
While there are no limits to the amount of coins you can receive or send by using your crypto wallet and addresses, after setting up your account, you will have a buy/sell limit.
For instant transactions, there is a fixed limit for each transaction. Note, however, that the number of transactions allowed is essentially unlimited. So you can buy/sell instantly an unlimited number of times, but only up to a certain amount each time.
The minimum amount that can be bought/sold is 0.0005 BTC across all markets. The maximum amount is 2.00 BTC, except in Nigeria, where you can buy/sell up to 1.00 BTC.
When it comes to local fiat currency, the limits are as follows:
There is currently no way to raise the upper limit per instant transaction or to change the minimum amount requirement. The buy/sell limits apply only to instant transactions. The Luno exchange does not have any limits since it is self-regulated through orders, makers and takers.
Based on how much information you have provided to Luno, the system classifies users according to verification levels. These levels do not affect buying and selling, but they do place limits on your deposits and withdrawals. To learn about the verification levels and these additional limits, see the following chapter of our Luno review.
You can use Luno in one of two ways. If you want to use the exchange as an online/mobile wallet to send and receive Bitcoin/Ethereum, you don’t even need a bank account. You can use the Luno wallet without concerning yourself with verification levels and transfer limits. Simply sign up for the account, provide only the most basic info (email, password) and feel free to send and receive cryptocurrency as often and as much as you like.
If you want to upgrade your account later to access some additional options, you can easily do that by using the Android or iOS Luno Smart Wallet or by changing your settings on Luno’s SETTINGS page.
The biggest thing is: each verification level offers higher deposit/withdrawal limits. Here are the prerequisites for each level:
The list of documents accepted by the company is country-specific and can be found on their official website.
In order to deposit or withdraw funds, you need to upgrade your account at least to Level 1. The deposit/withdrawal limits for Europe are between EUR 1,000 (total) for Level 1 and EUR 100,000 (per month) for Level 3. Indonesia is notable since there are no deposit/withdrawal limits once you reach Level 3. For Level 1, you can only withdraw/deposit IDR 15,000,000. South Africa also has no limits for Level 3 verification, while Level 1 accounts can deposit/withdraw a maximum of ZAR 15,000. For Malaysia, it’s between MYR 5,000 (all time) at Level 1, and MYR 300,000 (per month) at Level 3. Lastly, for Nigeria, Level 1 accounts can deposit/withdraw NGN 200,000 max (total), while Levels 3 have a limit of NGN 10,000,000.
If you want to see your current verification level and your deposit/withdrawal limit, access the “Settings” page. There, you will see your level displayed, as well as the option to upgrade next to your level.
When you look at these levels and the various limits, you can easily see that even at the lowest level, the amounts that can be sent and received are no pocket change. Is Luno safe enough to be trusted with that kind of money? We were asking ourselves the same question. See the next part of this extensive review to find the answer.
Forget about the fees, who cares about the limits. “Is Luno safe?” is the one question everybody wants answered before signing up for any kind of service. And understandably so.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, so far there have been zero hacks, security breaches, privacy infringements, thefts or losses of any kind.
To make sure it stays that way, Luno has implemented Two-Factor Authentication on all user accounts.
However, there are some concerns when it comes to platform security. In that regard, the two most common complaints are the following:
When it comes to the latter, you are always free to transfer your coins to a private wallet at zero cost. You can choose an offline wallet, a hardware wallet, a paper wallet – whatever suits your fancy.
Both of these concerns, however, have been addressed by Luno. Its developers believe that safeguarding your own keys comes with a lot of associated risks. There are a couple of famous examples already of users misplacing their keys. Hardware can break down, pieces of paper can be destroyed and lost, and memory is a fragile asset, at best.
Luno is not only a cryptocurrency exchange, but it also relies on its reputation as a secure crypto storage provider.
Here’s what the companyhas been working on to keep its customers safe:
When securing its users’ private keys, however, Luno uses a system called “deep freeze”. The coins that belong to customers are stored in keys which are then placed in safety deposit boxes in actual, physical bank vaults.
With all of this extra security, you would expect that it takes days for transactions to complete. Luckily, this is not the case. How does it make sure its transactions stay both secure and fast enough for users not to notice all of these extra steps?
Well, that’s where hot wallets come in.
To make sure Luno’s wallets also maintain a high level of security, Luno has partnered up with a third-party authenticator to co-sign and authorize all transactions using multi-sig keys.
All in all, is Luno safe? Definitely yes, but if you still want to store your own keys and have full control, go for it. It is absolutely your right to do so, so choose the option that works for you, as long as you take the necessary precautions.
If after all this you are interested in trading here, but you would like to know a bit more, like information concerning the Luno App, stay with us, we’re about to get there.
So, you prefer to do things on the move, or maybe you’re coming from a country where most people are accessing the Internet via their mobile phones? Whatever the reason, you’re wondering about the Luno app and whether it is as good as the desktop client.
When you download the app, the first thing you’ll notice is its modern design and the smooth user interface. The app feels great, and it offers all of the options of the online exchange. It is rated 4.0 on the App Store, while Android users were a bit more graceful awarding Luno with a 4.2 rating. Also worth noting is the fact that the app appears to be significantly more popular on Android (like, more than a hundred times more popular), which makes the higher grade a bit more relevant.
The signup process is the same as when you are using the desktop client. Once you’re in, here are some of the things you can do with the Luno app:
One of the more interesting tools you can access via the Luno app is the Learning Portal, available in-app. The team behind Luno has developed this nifty learning tool, complete with a crypto glossary, which will let you master the basics of crypto in no time.
What else is there to say? If you’re looking for our final word, read the last part of our Luno review. You’ve managed to get this far, after all…
Have we mentioned that Luno was the first cryptocurrency exchange available in Africa? It’s true, which is why it is still exceptionally popular in Nigeria and South Africa, with plans to offer its services in other underserved countries, too.
Luno intends to stay true to its roots and grow its user base by always being the first to break new ground. Luno CEO and founder Marcus Swanepoel has recently revealed his ambitious plan to serve as many as 1 billion customers by 2025.
Is that a realistic goal and, more importantly, why would you want to become one of the 1 billion?
Well, on the first point, the company has already experienced record-breaking growth and, if there’s anything in developing countries, it is certainly room to grow.
If you are looking for a safe, reliable exchange that allows you to buy cryptocurrencies for some rare fiat currencies and offers amazing functionality, Luno is definitely for you. You can sign up for the exchange anywhere in Europe, South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia and Indonesia, but you can use its wallet worldwide, no matter where you come from.
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