Making cryptocurrency less cryptic for us all
Cryptocurrency has gained widespread attention since the rise of Bitcoin, with some early adopters getting rich and stories of people ruefully discovering they’ve lost access to coins they picked up when they were almost worthless. Despite fears of a crypto crash, the popularity of cryptocurrencies continues to grow.
There’s a real get-rich-quick, treasure-hunt mentality around crypto. But for one of New Zealand’s pioneers in the crypto space, none of that is really what crypto is about and certainly isn’t why they got into it in the first place.
Easy Crypto was founded in 2017 by siblings Janine and Alan Grainger. CEO Janine Grainger first came across the idea of crypto on the internet around 2014 and had an insight: “I remember thinking that with the internet, we had this global village and global communication system, but we didn’t have a global payment system or any sort of global way to exchange value. So it seemed pretty obvious that this would be a useful thing that should take off. And then nothing happened. It didn’t take off.”
One of the most significant barriers was the difficulty of buying Bitcoin. Buyers were forced to use peer-to-peer networks like LocalBitcoins, where they didn’t know who they were buying from, if they were protected against scams (worrying, when hard cash is being spent) and typically had to show their passport to the seller — who didn’t have to prove their identity in return.
“It was really complicated and didn’t feel safe. You’re like, who am I sending my money to? Can I trust them? People in LocalBitcoins are not registered financial services providers; they’re not like legal entities with all the protections for consumers. It’s just some random dude on the internet.”
And then there was what felt like a ‘tax’ on being from Aotearoa: “In 2017, when the hype started, the prices for buying crypto in New Zealand were 15 percent above the global price. This, for a product that has no shipping costs, so our geographical location doesn’t matter; it was just really unfair pricing, and we definitely wanted to change that.”
This was the background against which the Graingers founded Easy Crypto, with a mission to make buying cryptocurrency in New Zealand safe, easy and fair.
We act as a gateway to the new digital world, to ensure everyone can participate regardless of age, socioeconomic status or technical ability."
From the start, they acted like they were building it for their friends and family who “wanted to buy, say, $100 of Bitcoin and didn’t want to do complicated trading. We approached it like an online retail shop, where you take some Bitcoin, add it to your cart, pay for it and it gets delivered.” Within nine months, Easy Crypto was the biggest crypto provider in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Easy Crypto has had a relationship with Callaghan Innovation since 2018 when it featured in the agency’s report on blockchain. Grainger credits the agency for its help with grant applications and consistently backing Easy Crypto’s campaign to make it easier for crypto and Web3 businesses to open bank accounts. She’s particularly excited about Callaghan Innovation’s recently launched Web3NZ network.
“It’s great to see a place like that exist. Web3 is an awesome opportunity for NZ Inc and something we should be harnessing because New Zealand’s already got some amazing Web3 companies. The power of networks is huge, and Callaghan Innovation is adding value by helping to build and strengthen those networks.”
Looking forward, Grainger asserts: “I don’t see a world in which assets and financial systems don’t digitise. Stock markets are going digital, as are housing titles, identity — basically all of these different types of assets and value are digitising. We use the internet daily but don’t need to understand how TCP/IP protocols work. We want to make it so everyone can engage with digital assets in the same way.”
She also has lots of advice for future entrepreneurs, including “either have a co-founder or a really strong support network – you will need it”.
At a glance
- Founded in 2017
- Founded by siblings Janine (CEO) and Alan Grainger
- Based in Auckland
- Makes buying cryptocurrency safe, easy and fair
- Over $2.4 billion total sales in five years
- Visit website
Callaghan Innovation impact
- Assistance with grant applications
- Support to make it easier for crypto and Web3 businesses to open bank accounts
- Network building and support for Web3 businesses through the Web3NZ platform