Juno, a Singapore-headquartered crypto firm that provides checking accounts in the U.S. has raised $18 million in a Series A funding round and launched a native token as part of its tokenized loyalty program.
ParaFi Capital led the round, with Hashed, Jump Crypto, Uncorrelated Fund, Greycroft, 6th Man Ventures and others participating. This was an equity round and closed two months ago, Juno co-founder and CEO Varun Deshpande said.
Juno's Series A round comes three years after it raised $3 million in a seed funding round in 2019. That round was co-led by Polychain Capital and Sequoia Capital India's Surge program. Deshpande declined to comment on Juno's valuation with the latest round.
Juno provides checking accounts to U.S. residents that allow them to earn, invest in and spend crypto. Juno says its checking accounts are free and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). "The Juno Checking Account (which holds USD deposits) is sponsored by Evolve Bank & Trust and is FDIC insured up to $250,000," reads Juno's website.
The checking account allows users to buy and sell crypto, earn interest on deposits and spend crypto and cash via a debit card. "We primarily compete with banks like Wells Fargo or Chase. In crypto, our closest competitors are Eco, Crypto.com, Strike and Robinhood," said Deshpande.
Juno has today also launched a tokenized loyalty program, which will distribute its native ERC20 token, JCOIN, to verified users as a reward for certain activities on the platform. Those activities are receiving deposits, such as a paychecks, in the Juno account, and spending funds with the Juno debit card.
"Juno makes money via interchange and trading fees," Deshpande said.
As for rewards to users for the activities, they are set at 1:1, meaning if someone receives or spends $1,000 in their Juno account, they will be rewarded with 1,000 JCOINs, according to Juno's website. The firm terms JCOINs as "loyalty tokens."
Juno says it will not distribute JCOINs to employees or investors and will not facilitate secondary trading of the tokens. Token holders will be able to shop products with partner brands, starting with crypto hardware wallet maker Ledger, said Deshpande. One billion JCOINs have already been minted and after their exhaustion, the firm plans to mint 1 billion more tokens. The supply of the token is uncapped.
Juno says more than 75,000 users are eligible to claim free 150 million JCOINs in an airdrop today, according to a snapshot taken on Sept. 30.
With fresh capital in hand, Juno plans to expand its loyalty program, team and product line. Deshpande said there are currently 80 people working for Juno, with 75 in India and 5 in the U.S., and the plan is to expand the U.S. team to 25 people and the overall team to 150 people in the next 12 months.
As for geographical expansion, Juno plans to continue to focus on the U.S. market "for the foreseeable future," said Deshpande. Still, he added, "We are excited about potentially launching in Latin America."
Juno was founded in 2021 by Deshpande, Ratnesh Ray and Siddharth Verma. The team had created decentralized finance protocol Nuo in 2019 but shut it down a year later "to pursue a more regulated approach to crypto."