Written by Wolfie Zhao, edited by Bruce Robin
One of the world’s largest crypto exchanges by trading volume wants to set up fiat-to-crypto trading platforms on almost every continent.
Binance founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng closed out the first day of CoinDesk’s Consensus Singapore event with a fireside chat, where he discussed a range of topics, including how he grew Binance from a startup with a $15 million initial coin offering to one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges and his future vision for the platform.
During the conversation with CoinDesk’s Pete Rizzo, Zhao indicated that by this time next year, he wants the company to launch five to 10 fiat-to-crypto exchanges, with ideally two per continent.
These plans falls in line with Binance’s current efforts to roll out an exchange in Singapore that supports local fiat-to-crypto trading services.
Having conducted closed testing on Tuesday, CZ said he hopes the platform could be up and running within months, though he added that working with banks and regulators is much harder than just with cryptocurrencies.
Noting that this move appears to be a reversal to what Binance has been known for, which is its crypto-to-crypto trading, Zhao admitted that the crypto market capitalization is still significantly lower than traditional financial instruments.
“Fiat is still where all the money is in. … And we’ve got to open that gate,” he said.
Zhao added that in order to so, Binance plans to continue working with relatively smaller countries, citing recent partnerships with nations like Malta. The main reason, he explained, is that these countries tend to respond in a much more efficient way.
“You can access to the top-level government officials and they respond to your questions more directly and efficiently. … And they do appreciate the investment you are bringing into the local economy,” he said.
That said, Zhao brands this move as more of finding a sweet spot rather than an entire pivot, stating that in the long term, the goal is still to build a decentralized exchange when the technology matures.
The fiat-to-crypto plan also comes as Binance has recorded healthy businesses incomes over the past year despite the overall cryptocurrency market downturn.
During the fireside chat, Zhao confirmed that in the first quarter this year, Binance made $200 million in profits, although the assets are all in cryptos. He added that the profits in Q2 declined due to a market drop, with $150 million.
Commenting on Binance’s rapid growth, Zhao said luck played some role in the company’s success so far as it was established with the “right thing at the right time.”
After quitting from OKCoin in 2015, Zhao said he spent the next two years with a team building a cloud-based system that offers crypto exchanges the infrastructure to form their own platforms, a technology he said laid the foundation of the creation of Binance.
And two years later, the exchange went online at a time when the Chinese government was stepping up its scrutiny over crypto trading and eventually issued the ban on domestic initial coin offerings and fiat-to-crypto trading.
“Sometimes negative things could turn out to be positive in the long term if you leverage it right,” he said.
Asked if he was concerned about whether market volatility would significantly affect Binance’s business, Zhao responded that he sold his house in 2014 to buy bitcoin, after which its price dropped from $600 to $200. Despite the fall, he he didn’t sell, adding: “After that, I’m just not that worried.”
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