Juno, a startup that offers checking accounts to crypto enthusiasts and allows them to take their paychecks in digital tokens, has landed another round of funding as it expands its offering with a tokenized loyalty program.

The year-and-a-half-old startup has amassed more than 75,000 clients in the US who withdraw their paychecks (some in whole, rest in portions) in crypto and invest consistently in digital assets every month.

Customers can spend their crypto or cash using the startup’s Mastercard-powered debit card, pay bills and easily move money to and from traditional banks if they want to. Juno also offers customers instant onramps from a checking account to layer 2 blockchains such as Polygon, Arbitrum, and Optimism for zero fees.

The platform of the same name integrates with all popular payroll platforms in the US, making it easier for customers who believe in crypto in the long term to keep doubling their bets without worrying about manually moving funds to different exchanges . It also provides customers with automated tax filing through Form 1099, eliminating the need to manually sort through their transactions and calculate profits.

On Saturday, Juno announced that it has raised $18 million in a Series A funding round. The funding was led by ParaFi Capital’s Growth Fund 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 — has reached $1 billion in annualized transaction volume processing, Varun Deshpande, co-founder and chief director of Juno, said in an interview.

“Crypto residents in the US find existing banks completely inadequate for the day-to-day use of crypto. We build a checking account from scratch with crypto and web3 at its core. Juno allows members to earn a portion of their salary in crypto and use crypto for day-to-day transactions such as paying bills or buying coffee,” he said.

Juno’s eponymous app (Image credits: Juno)

Tokenized loyalty program

Juno, which raised $3 million in seed money last year, is now ready for a new offering: an optional loyalty program. The startup is introducing an ERC20 token called JCOIN that will be rewarded to customers, if they choose, based on their usage. Remarkably, Juno’s co-founders, employees and investors are not taking any allocation in the tokens to avoid conflicts of interest in a move that contrasts with how a significant number of industry players operate.

“We believe that distributing tokens to founders, investors and team members creates misaligned incentives. Having market participants with privileged information creates long-term distrust in the community,” said Deshpande.

“The path for our company’s success remains developing successful products, and the path 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 which they are eligible. Every dollar spent using the platform grants customers access to a token. Overtime customers will have to spend more to receive the same number of tokens as rewards, he said.

The startup, based in India, is part of a growing wave of fintech and software companies in the South Asian nation that are increasingly building for the global markets. Before starting Juno, Deshpande and other co-founders – Ratnesh Ray and Siddharth Verma – worked on the Nuo protocol in 2019. Two years later, they dropped the protocol to build something that complies with growing regulations.

Juno has a team that “understands both fintech and crypto in depth. Seamlessly integrating crypto and web3 into a checking account, a familiar and trusted interface for millions of Americans, can help new users onboard web3,” said Ryan Navi, Principal at ParaFi Capital, in a statement.

“Their empathy for users new to web3 and passion for creating beautiful crypto-native products with compliance at their core sets them apart. They are creating a whole new category in neobanking and we are excited to support them.”

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