Juno, a startup that provides checking accounts to crypto enthusiasts and allows them to receive their paychecks in digital tokens, has raised a new round of funding as it expands its offerings to include a tokenized loyalty program.

The year-and-a-half startup has amassed more than 75,000 customers in the US who receive their salaries (some in full, the rest in portions) in crypto and regularly invest in digital assets every month.

Customers can spend their crypto or cash using the startup’s Mastercard-powered debit card, make bill payments, and easily transfer funds to and from traditional banks if they choose. Juno also offers current account customers direct access to Layer 2 blockchains such as Polygon, Arbitrum, and Optimism at no cost.

The eponymous platform integrates with all popular payroll platforms in the US, allowing customers who have long believed in crypto to continue to double their bets without having to worry about manually transferring funds to different exchanges. It also offers customers automated tax reporting via Form 1099, saving them the hassle of manually going through their transactions and calculating earnings.

On Saturday, Juno announced that it had raised $18 million in a Series A funding round. The funding was led by growth fund ParaFi Capital and saw participation from dozens of backers, including Greycroft, Antler Global, Hashed, Jump Crypto, Mithril, 6th Man Ventures, Abstract Ventures and Uncorrelated Fund.

Juno – which also counts Sequoia India’s Surge, Dragonfly Capital, Polychain Capital, Consensys Ventures, Balaji Srinivasan, Surojit Chatterjee, Sandeep Nailwal and Ryan Selkis among its backers – reached $1 billion in annualized deal volume processing, Varun Deshpande, co-founder and CEO of Juno, said in an interview.

“Crypto natives in the US find existing banks completely inadequate for day-to-day crypto use. We’re rebuilding a checking account from the ground up with crypto and web3 at its core. Juno lets members earn part of their salary in crypto and to use crypto for day-to-day transactions like paying bills or buying coffee,” he said.

Juno’s eponymous app (Image credits: Juno)

Tokenized loyalty program

Juno, which raised $3 million in seed funding last year, is now ready for a new offering: an optional loyalty program. The startup is introducing an ERC20 token, called JCOIN, which will be rewarded to customers, if they choose, based on their usage. Remarkably, Juno’s co-founders, employees, and investors take no allocation in tokens to avoid conflicts of interest, which contrasts with how a significant number of industry players operate.

“We believe distributing tokens to founders, investors, and team members creates misaligned incentives. Being market participants with insider information creates distrust in the community in the long run,” Deshpande said.

“The way out of our company’s success remains developing successful products, and the way out for our investors and our team remains an IPO,” he said.

Juno took a snapshot of customer usage on Friday and generated 150 million tokens for them to qualify for. Every dollar spent on the platform gives customers access to a token. Over time, customers will need to spend more to receive the same number of tokens as rewards, he said.

The India-based startup is part of a growing wave of fintech and software companies in the South Asian nation that are increasingly expanding for global markets. Before launching Juno, Deshpande and other co-founders – Ratnesh Ray and Siddharth Verma – worked on the Nuo protocol in 2019. They discontinued the protocol two years later to build something that complied with the regulatory environment increasing.

Juno has a team that “deeply understands both fintech and crypto. Seamlessly integrating crypto and web3 into a current account that’s a trusted and familiar interface for millions of Americans can help onboard new users to web3,” Ryan Navi, principal at ParaFi Capital, said in a report.

“Their empathy for users new to Web3 and their passion for building beautiful crypto-native products with compliance at their core sets them apart. They are creating a whole new category in neo-banking and we are thrilled to support them. “

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