OnJuno Co-Founder Varun Deshpande has a unique brand of foresight as it pertains to the crypto space. In October 2017, Deshpande helped co-found Nuo Network, one of crypto’s first decentralized finance apps. It’s a lesser-known name that helped people lend and borrow crypto – but it shares company with other DeFi titans which established the foundations of DeFi, such as Compound and Maker.
Some five years on from Nuo, Deshpande says very little has changed about how people get their money into crypto. Sure, we’re using exchanges as we always have – but in the world of sky-high Ethereum gas fees, layer-2 blockchains, and Ethereum killers, the game has changed.
“Right now, to get money in crypto, you have to go from Bank of America to Coinbase to Metamask to a bridge,” Deshpande said. “Then money gets locked, it’s a crazy process to get money in and out, and that’s not an experience we want.”
That’s why Deshpande – and a crack team of crypto fanatics – have been hard at work building a neobank called OnJuno, which is solving the “onramp problem” that crypto maximalists need to go truly “bankless.”
“We have been able to build an entire banking stack, but we think of ourselves as employers of the DeFi world and enablers of self-custody money,” Deshpande said. “We envision a world wherein users will not just have a primary bank account, but also a digital wallet that they choose … and we want to become a very simple banking interface for them to interact with that wallet.”
What does that look like? Well, Deshpande says that it “means that money within that ecosystem can move from cash to crypto, and crypto to chain, instantly.” And for OnJuno, that means that the company can do a lot of what other banks do. But on top of that, it can then either allocate that money into cash (which is secured in an FDIC-insured bank account) or put it into crypto.
The bolder, more interesting option is when you opt for a crypto paycheck – right now, users can allocate their funds into ETH, BTC, or yield-bearing USDC. The former option is pretty boring, comparatively, but savers in OnJuno’s insured account will be welcome to a surprisingly bold 1.2% APY on their funds.
Those who take their paychecks in crypto – or buy crypto on OnJuno’s portal – will fetch a few benefits, though. Namely, there are no fees. And maybe even more impressively, those who want to have a ‘strictly crypto account’ can keep their funds in USDC to pay for purchases – and make 4% APY on their USDC held at the neobank. Users can also set up their paychecks to skip OnJuno and go directly to an on-chain address.
Deshpande also says that they’ll be “expanding the offering … to offer stablecoins [such as] USDC on Polygon” and to “offer new layer-1s like Avalanche and Fantom.” In the long run, he hopes that OnJuno will offer onramp support for all major blockchains and asset types.
In its current state, though, OnJuno has the makings of something that crypto maximalists will truly love. The traditional banking infrastructure – much of which is compulsory, namely for paying bills and honoring other obligations – is a sunk cost, but one that most will lean on. However, OnJuno’s product offers a way out – a way to stay purely in crypto, spend your money in it, or send your money on-chain to stretch your earnings even further.