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Binance CFO Talks About His ‘Exciting’ Journey in Exclusive Interview

It was the last hour of the final day at Paris Blockchain Week Summit. The charismatic Binance CFO Wei Zhao had been speaking back to back. Yet, despite the time and the fact that he must have repeated himself over and over for two solid days, he seemed undeterred. Wearing jeans and a Binance hoodie, he bounded up to meet me, vigorously shaking my hand, clearly enjoying being the man of the moment.


If this were a celebrity party, Binance would be the VIP guest. Changpeng Zhao (CZ)’s creation seems unstoppable. Every project wants to be on Binance, from regular token listings to holding IEOs on the Binance LaunchPad. The Binance Chain has just launched, its native BNB token is climbing in price, and the company has the power to influence the entire community and delist tokens at will.

Binance Won’t Be Leaving Malta Any Time Soon

Minister for Digital Affairs Cedric O later said in a press conference that one of their goals was attracting Binance to France. Yet Zhao confessed to me that he had no idea the French had pushed forward new regulation until now.

With a rather high taxation rate for crypto companies at 30 percent, regulations around ICOs (that no one’s doing anymore) and a lot less flexibility than Malta, it looks unlikely that Binance will move to France anytime soon. Although I wasn’t privy to any backroom chats.

binance cfo wei zhao

My interview was with Wei Zhao, the man partially responsible for Binance’s epic growth. “I help companies to scale and to grow,” he tells me. Binance now has over 400 people in 30 countries. That’s “a decent sized organization.”

One thing that I have helped to launch is our fiat to crypto offering. In January, we launched our fiat to crypto, pound to BTC. We’re also doing Singapore. Last year, we launched in Uganda… My approach has been basically to build up our presence in the regulated world and build up more fiat.

Bridging the Traditional Financial World with Crypto

With a background of working in traditional finance, and grooming companies to go public, it’s unsurprising that another major focus of Zhao is institutional investors.

“I worked in Hong Kong, so I’ve been CFO for about four different companies, two of which went public. So, I am quite adept in dealing with bankers, and working with bankers, I am a banker myself. I helped to launch our OTC trading services, Binance off-exchange services. I help bring people from traditional bond traders and that type of trader to cryptocurrency.”

Indeed, the surge in Binance’s OTC trading drove the company’s near $80 million first-quarter profits.

What It’s Like Working at Binance

I ask why he made the leap from traditional finance to crypto. He says he would not have done it for any other company than Binance.

I think we are really different from other companies. Most are just exchanges, but we really fiercely want to make an impact in the world… The journey has been awesome so far and I’m in it for the long haul.

One of the best things about his job? Traveling to different places. “I flew around the world four or five times already,” he laughs.

It does speak to the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. Yes, it’s a digital business but at the end of the day, it’s still a human business, it’s a very human business. The reason this industry is growing so much is that people in this industry travel so much. Like 10 times more than in any other industry.

There’s nothing like human interaction, face to face human talking about things, that’s how you can really impact change.

Does the Recent Leap in Bitcoin Mean the Bear Market Is Over?

It’s not a decisive “yes” when I ask if the bear market is over. Zhao pauses and leans back in his chair. There’s a short silence before he forms his answer, leading me to believe the opposite may be true. But with the most profitable exchange in crypto, bear market or no, nothing’s stopping Binance. He says:

I think there’s generally a lot more interest across the board despite adverse regulation and other adversities. You see general interest in bitcoin from traditional industries, and the rest of the world is showing interest in projects and I think all of it will contribute to the continued growth of the market. The fact that people are thinking “how is this going to impact my business?” Facebook JPMorgan… it lends credibility to the space.

I ask if companies like JPMorgan and Facebook lending “credibility” is rather ironic, considering how Bitcoin was born. He replies:

You need a push which is driven by guys like Facebook and JPMorgan, that gets people thinking about how that’s going to impact institutions and the market. It lends credibility, mindshare, and shows that our actions are getting noticed, that’s what it takes.

What It’s Like Working with CZ

So, what’s it like working with one of crypto’s biggest personalities? “Awesome, it really is awesome!” he enthuses, “he’s extremely transparent, diligent and extremely honest, he’s also extremely intelligent, and very patient.”

changpeng zhao cz binance

I ask if he was in complete agreement about the recent delisting of Bitcoin SV, to which he nods his head. Presumably, he’s been fielding questions on the subject all day long and his answer is extremely diplomatic.

“We have a very rigorous delisting process, and we also have a regular quarterly review. This quarter a lot of the comments we’ve written out our rationality… I don’t have any other comments on that.”

Finally then, who does Zhao believe that Satoshi Nakamoto is? Clearly, not Craig Wright.

“I think its a community,” he replies. “It’s like ‘I am Bitcoin’, you know that movie? ‘I am bah, blah blah’? It’s like that with Bitcoin. It’s a community. And we’re surviving… I believe that every day that you survive extends your survival… There is a reason why he or she wants to remain anonymous, because it’s not important, it’s a community.”

What do you think of Zhao’s comments? Let us know your thoughts below!


Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Chinese Company Lost $23 Million Allegedly Mining Cryptocurrency in Secret

A subsidiary of Chinese firm Huatie has been sold off at 10 percent of its initial value following losses from suspected secret cryptocurrency mining activities amounting to about $23 million.


90 Percent Value Plunged Probably Due to 2018 Bear Market

According to Chinese crypto media outlet 8BTC, Huatie HengAn, a subsidiary of Huatie has been sold for $2 million. Reports indicate that the company’s value plunged by about 90 percent from an initial valuation of $25 million, all in the space of one year.

Huatie HengAn originally a construction company reportedly purchased 36,500 units of hardware listed as “servers” from Canaan and Ebang in 2018.

Given that both companies don’t sell servers but instead sell crypto mining hardware, the suspicion is that Huatie HengAn pivoted from construction to cryptocurrency mining.

Back in December 2018, Huatie’s end-of-year financial report showed losses of about $14 million for its subsidiary firm. By February 2018, the total net loss had risen to $23 million.

With the total loss just $2 million off from its initial $25 million investment into the business, it appears the parent company decided to count its losses and sell the business.

If Huatie HengAn was indeed engaging in cryptocurrency mining, it would be the latest in a growing list of businesses affected by the 2018 bear market.

During the year-long bear period, the entire cryptocurrency market fell by an average of more than 80 percent across the board.

2018 – A Dreadful Year for Mining Companies

For the first half of 2018, it appeared as though mining companies were immune to the hemorrhaging prices in the cryptocurrency market. However, by Q3 2018 reports of difficult financial situations began to emerge.

Cloud mining services like Hashflare were the first to shut down citing lack of profitability. Then reports began to emerge of massive losses for mining giant Bitmain – a situation further worsened by a bet on Bitcoin Cash that ultimately backfired.

The fallout from the suspected losses has seen the company downsize its workforce, firing entire departments. Bitmain has also appointed a new CEO.

Ebang, Bitmain, and Canaan abandoned plans for massive initial public offerings (IPO). GMO also incurred losses of $12 million forcing the company to shut down its mining hardware enterprise.

Even companies like Nvidia that sold hardware for miners weren’t left out as the company is reportedly trying to offload unsold inventory as demand shrunk in 2018.

Do you think Huatie HengAn was secretly mining cryptocurrencies under the guise of could computing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via 8BTC and Twitter (@btcinchina), Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Facebook Goes Down as Bitcoin Continues Mining Blocks With 99.98% Uptime

Social media giant Facebook and its Instagram and Whatsapp platforms went down for a couple of hours highlighting the stability of Bitcoin and its decentralized architecture. 


Facebook Goes Down

Social media website Facebook went down for a few hours on April 13th according to a monitoring resource downdetector.com.

Whatsapp, the popular messaging app, and Instagram, a picture-sharing social media platform, both owned by Facebook, have also experienced outages.

According to a report by Business Insider, there were more than 9,000 people complaining about the issues and it was felt mostly across Asia and Europe.

As of yet, there’s no formal statement outlining the issues for the outage. However, a spokesman from the company said:

We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

Not The First Time and Not The Only One

It’s not the first time the social media website has experienced a notable outage.

Earlier in March, Facebook, as well as the abovementioned associated apps went down for over 24 hours.

The company did come up with a formal statement then explaining:

Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We’ve now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience.

Facebook is not the only centralized company which has experienced technical issues depriving hundreds of thousands of users of its services.

Bitcoinist reported last summer that Visa, one of the leading payment solution providers with millions of people using it, experienced a “system failure”, leaving countless of its customers without access to their money.

Bitcoin Stays Up, Always

Amid events of the kind, it can’t go without mention that Bitcoin’s network boasts an uptime of 99.98% since its inception, highlighting the benefits of decentralization. If one or even hundreds of Bitcoin nodes go offline, the network will continue working unabated.

network nodes metcalfes law

On the other hand, as showcased above, centralized solutions are much more prone to experiencing downtime given their central point of failure.

In the case of Visa, it was a “system failure,” while in the case of Facebook’s March outage it was a “server configuration change.” Bitcoin’s distributed network not only requires more resources to attack it than to defend it, but its funds are also further decentralized in wallets that are protected by private keys controlled by individual users.

What do you think of Facebook’s outage? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Uber IPO: Cryptocurrency Will Be a ‘Huge Beneficiary’

Uber Technologies Inc. expects a valuation of about USD 100 billion when listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Large IPOs such as Uber’s and others could bring spectacular benefits to the crypto industry. At the same time, business solutions allowing Uber users to pay with Bitcoin are now moving to center stage.


Uber IPO: Bigger Than Bitcoin’s Market Cap

On April 11, 2019, Uber filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to offer shares of its common stock. In its recently released prospectus, Uber does not mention the magnitude of the IPO, which could be one of the biggest ever.

However, according to The Financial Times,

The company is aiming to raise $10bn from its IPO and recently told some of its investors that it could be valued at $90bn to $100bn, according to people familiar with the matter. The company was last valued at $76bn in a private fundraising in August.

Thus, the estimated valuation would surpass today’s Bitcoin market capitalization of about $89 billion.

The transportation company bases its projections on its leading technology, expertise, and massive network, which comprises millions of drivers, users, shippers, and other participants around the globe.

Moreover, Uber details in its prospectus financial data as follows:

  • Revenue derived from our Ridesharing products grew from $3.5 billion in 2016 to $9.2 billion in 2018.
  • Gross Bookings derived from our Ridesharing products grew from $18.8 billion in 2016 to $41.5 billion in 2018.
  • Consumers traveled approximately 26 billion miles on our platform in 2018.

Uber has become omnipresent. Its global ridesharing footprint covers 63 countries, encompassing a population of over 4 billion people, as shown in the graph below:

Digital Currency Group CEO, Barry Silbert adds that billions of dollars in private company stock will be unleashed from IPOs this year.

“The crypto asset class is going to be a huge beneficiary,” he says

You Can Already Use Bitcoin

Uber’s direct acceptance of payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may still be a long way off, however.

In the meantime though, some Uber drivers around the world are unofficially accepting BTC instead of their local fiat currency.

Some users in Argentina, for example, have expressed interest in paying for Uber with bitcoin while some drivers wouldn’t mind receiving some bits instead of the depreciating peso.

For instance, an Uber driver, under the Reddit username bjandrus, wrote that he was already accepting bitcoin off the books for rides. However, he complains, the process is problematic because the Uber app does not support BTC payments.

It remains to be seen which ride-sharing company will officially begin accepting bitcoin first.

However, paying for Uber in bitcoin indirectly is already possible. For example, there’s the gift card option from Bitrefill and others, including the Coinbase e-gift card supported in select EU countries and Australia.

There are also third-party services as well as cryptocurrency debit cards that allow you to pay for anything, including Uber, Lyft etc. using bitcoin.

https://twitter.com/VenditExchange/status/1088929593577357313

How do you think IPOs such the one expected from Uber could benefit the crypto industry? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images via Uber Technologies Inc., Shutterstock

The Rundown

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New York, New York: Bitstamp Obtains BitLicense, Plans to Expand Into US

Bitstamp now can officially offer cryptocurrency trading services in the state of New York after the state’s Department of Financial Services granted the exchange a BitLicense. 


Obtaining a BitLicense is undoubtedly good news for the traditionally European-focused Bitstamp, which will now find it easier to make inroads into the United States cryptocurrency trading ecosystem and expand its presence in the large North American market. Stated the Luxembourg-based exchange in an official announcement:

Bitstamp has always embraced regulatory efforts which focus on transparency and accountability that can help expand the industry. Obtaining a BitLicense is a key element in ramping up our presence in the United States, especially when it comes to working with institutional investors.

bitstamp

Acquiring a BitLicense is no easy feat in the restrictive state of New York. In order to obtain the somewhat-coveted permission slip, companies must adhere to a slew of strict requirements relating to consumer protection.

Many individuals in the cryptocurrency space are critical of the BitLicense — and for good reason. However, Bitstamp claims that the license essentially validates its operation as operating under the “same high standards followed by traditional financial institutions.” Notes the company:

Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve strived to not only be the most secure and trusted crypto exchange in the world, but to shape new frontiers for the industry by developing best practices in security and self-regulation. We look forward to carrying the lessons we’ve learned in Europe over the ocean and helping to develop a better environment for all crypto businesses, both in the US and worldwide.

Bitstamp was rumored to be close to finalizing a deal for the sale of the company to a South Korean gaming company nearly one year ago — but little information regarding the rumors followed.

What do you think of Bitstamp and New York’s infamous BitLicense? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.