Every technology giant has its figurehead.
Apple had Steve Jobs. Microsoft had Bill Gates. Tesla has Elon Musk. Amazon has Jeff Bezos. Facebook has Mark Zuckerberg.
Crypto, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anyone. Bitcoin was created to empower individuals and give control back to users.
It was never supposed to have a figurehead. But it’s slowly getting one in the form of 41-year-old Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.
CZ is the founder and face of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. Although Binance only launched in July, through its speed and (apparent) trustworthiness it quickly grew to become the world’s leader.
CZ has become known for his transparency on any issues Binance faces. When the site went down temporarily a few weeks ago, he let everyone know exactly what was happening and why, which is unusual in the crypto world.
When Binance was “hacked” a couple of weeks after that, he immediately took action to return any lost funds to users.
In a post about the hack, later on that same day, he showed how the “hackers” actually lost money, and how the Binance team managed to stop them. The money those hackers lost, he donated to charity.
Solving the centralised exchange problem
CZ again made headlines in mid-March when he took a stab at solving one of crypto’s biggest issues – centralised exchanges.
I’ve written before about the need for decentralised exchanges (DEXs), and the companies making them happen.
How does CZ propose fixing the problem? By offering a $1m prize for whoever can make it happen.
“Binance will host a coding competition with the clear intent of merging the best implementation(s) and/or team(s) into Binance Chain. On top of this, we will also offer a total prize pool equivalent of $1,000,000 USD, paid in BNB. How does winning a million dollar prize, then joining the Binance team, sound to you?”
BNB, which is a crypto created by Binance, is one of the few coins to post a profit for cryptos investors in the first quarter of this year. It is also one of the few cryptos with real-world use right now. It is used to pay fees on the Binance exchange.
At time of writing BNB is the 16th biggest crypto by market cap. If CZ really does solve the DEX issue, you can expect it to go much higher.
Don’t like your country’s rules? Move
Then just a couple of days after CZ’s million-dollar bounty announcement, Bloomberg reported he was moving Binance from Hong Kong to Malta.
Why? A disagreement with the Hong Kong regulators. Rather than try to fight an old-money system in Hong Kong, he simply moved to a country more welcoming of crypt0.
It’s a great way to win an argument and a great way to get publicity for your company.
As Bloomberg reported:
The company had an office in Japan and was trying to get a license to operate there, but decided to remove its staff to avoid a clash with local regulators, Zhao said. Japan’s Financial Services Agency issued a warning to the exchange on Friday for operating without approval.
The pivot to Malta comes as the country looks for ways to become a hub for digital-asset ventures. The government has held several public consultations on regulating virtual currencies, token sales and crypto-exchanges. Plans for a Malta Digital Innovation Authority that will certify and regulate blockchain-based businesses and their operations were unveiled last month.
The president of Malta, Joseph Muscat, even personally tweeted to welcome Binance’s move to his country.
In a crypto world full of shady exchanges and dodgy practices, CZ has done well by being clear and honest with his users.
And so Binance has quickly become one of the few crypto exchanges you can trust. How long it continues to be, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Until next time,
Editor, Exponential Investor
PS If you ever had any doubt the mainstream media is pushing its own agenda, take a look at this video. (Just click on the picture of the video to follow the link to YouTube.)
It’s a supercut of TV news stations up and down the US reciting the same lines about – ironically – trustworthy journalism. It turns out, Sinclair Broadcast Group forced these supposedly independent journalists to all follow the same script. It’s quite disturbing when all cut together.
You can read about the story in more detail in the The New York Times. I see it as just another reminder to always do your own research, and never believe any news coverage at face value.