$76 Billion a Day: How Binance Became the World’s Biggest Crypto Exchange
The trading platform surged by operating from nowhere in particular—without offices, licenses or headquarters. Now governments are insisting on taking some control
The world’s fastest-growing major financial exchange has no head office or formal address, lacks licenses in countries where it operates and has a chief executive who until recently wouldn’t answer questions about his location.
Started just four years ago, Binance is the exchange giant that towers over the digital currency world, a crypto equivalent of the London, New York and Hong Kong stock exchanges combined. After a burst of growth, Binance processes more trades for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether each day, $76 billion worth, than its four largest competitors put together, according to data provider CryptoCompare.
The years of largely unfettered, unregulated growth for Binance in particular and the crypto industry broadly, however, are coming to an end.
Financial regulators increasingly worry that digital assets, until recently dismissed by some as a fad, have grown so quickly they now are systemically important. In an October speech, Bank of England official Jon Cunliffe brought up the 2008 subprime-mortgage-fueled crisis and said of crypto, “When something in the financial system is growing very fast, and growing in largely unregulated space, financial stability authorities have to sit up and take notice.”
Binance is drawing the most regulatory attention. Authorities in a dozen countries have cautioned users in recent months the exchange is unregistered or not authorized to provide various services.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into how Binance conducts business in the U.S., where it has many state licenses, according to former executives. The SEC has asked for a list of information from Binance’s U.S. affiliate, including how it relates to the global organization, according to one of the executives. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is examining whether Binance has abetted money laundering, one former executive said. Bloomberg News previously reported the DOJ investigation.
The SEC and the DOJ declined to comment.
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