Exchange operator Luno stays upbeat


“Investors will remain cautious in the next few months due to various factors. Our advice to them is do not take risks that they cannot manage,” Luno Malaysia country manager Aaron Tang said after the launch of Luno’s “Move with Luno” campaign.

PETALING JAYA: The bursting of the price rally in cryptocurrencies has not deterred Malaysian investors from the asset class.

Luno Malaysia Sdn Bhd said local investors continue to buy digital coins but the exponential growth in new accounts it registered in 2021, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has normalised to lower levels in 2022 after financial markets turned bearish.

Within a week of launching two new coins, Chainlink (LINK) and Uniswap (UNI), the exchange transacted over RM7mil worth of trades, Luno officials said.

“At the height of the interest in cryptocurrency last year, we were signing up over 1,000 new accounts a day but that has dropped to a few hundred accounts now.

“Investors will remain cautious in the next few months due to various factors. Our advice to them is do not take risks that they cannot manage,” Luno Malaysia country manager Aaron Tang said after the launch of Luno’s “Move with Luno” campaign.

The Securities Commission’s approved digital exchange (DAX) operator has some 700,000 accounts now and is seeing renewed interest from investors at lower valuations for the seven coins Luno now offers on its platform here.

“We found a lot of locals bought when prices crashed. We have a healthy mix of traders and investors and there are people who are buying for the long term because they believe in the potential.

“A majority of customers are holding on to their positions while a small number are actively trading,” he added.

For those holding on to their investment, many are likely to be suffering from paper losses.

The cryptocurrency market has undergone a major price correction since late last year with the flagship token, bitcoin, falling from a high of US$68,991 (RM303,353) in November to a low of US$17,600 (RM77,387) on June 18, 2022 as a combination of regulatory uncertainty, environmental concerns and the popularity eco-friendly coins like solana and cardano took liquidity away from bitcoin.

Bitcoin was last trading at US$19,164 (RM84,430).

The downtrend in financial markets and black swan events like the crash of the Terra Luna ecosystem has increased volatility and risk premiums in the digital coins space while the move by major central banks to engineer a soft landing of their economies amid rising inflationary pressures through higher lending rates has also drained liquidity.

Tang said the correlation between cryptocurrency like bitcoin and tech stocks had increased in the past few months but when seen over a long period of three to five years, the correlation figure was still low.

“In the past few months, people selling tech stocks were also selling crypto but the correlation even at its peak was 0.8 and will likely fall once markets stabilise,” he said.

Tang said Luno has seen a pick-up in new account registrations in May and June as compared to February to March to reflect the rising interest in buying digital assets at lower prices.

Luno now accounts for 90% of the regulated trades in digital coins in the country. It regularly sees more than 100 bitcoin trades a day and does about 3,000 bitcoin trades a month according to Tang. The room to grow remains good.

The unregulated trade volumes are estimated to be bigger than the regulated market due to the bigger variety of coins available, he said.

Luno has thus launched ‘’Move with Luno” campaign with national athletes, Pandelela Rinong (Olympic diver) and Mohamad Zaquan Adha (professional footballer) as its brand ambassadors, to raise awareness about the asset class among the wider public and promote financial fitness.

The digital exchange operator has also launched a platform in ‘‘Bahasa Melayu” to provide information and market excess to a wider group of investors.

The event was attended by Deputy Finance Minister I, Datuk Indera Mohd Shahar Abdullah.

Luno hopes the campaign will help improve awareness and educate the public on this asset class and help it reach its target of one million registrations.

“How many customers can we sign up and reach is our core matrix,” Tang said.

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