Despite the collapse of the cryptocurrency market, “the sector is not going to disappear”, assured AFP the boss of Binance, the main crypto-asset exchange platform in the world, during an interview on the sidelines of the VivaTech show. in Paris.
The current crisis “creates concerns, but we expected it, it’s not unusual”, assured the crypto-billionaire Changpeng Zhao, one of the most listened voices of this medium, at the head of a group which claims 120 million customers.
“Financial markets go up and down. If you go public, you can’t expect it to go up forever,” said the 44-year-old entrepreneur, who has the Binance logo tattooed on his right arm. .
After a good period during the pandemic, cryptocurrencies, known for their volatility, have fallen sharply in recent weeks, suffering from lower investor appetite for risk.
The market briefly fell below the $1 trillion mark on Tuesday as bitcoin, the queen of virtual “currencies”, tumbled about 70% from its record high set last November.
Despite these headwinds, Binance, which has nearly 6,000 employees, has just opened 2,000 positions that the company expects to fill by the end of the year.
“We were very economical” when the market was on the rise, explained the one who is known only by his initials, CZ.
“We didn’t spend big on advertising, we didn’t name stadiums, and we weren’t Super Bowl partners,” he said, referring to the choices of some of his rivals.
Despite their popularity in recent years, the use of cryptocurrencies continues to be associated by some politicians with fraudulent practices such as money laundering, a discourse that CZ calls a “total myth”.
The leader, who grew up in China before moving to Canada and taking citizenship, insists that blockchain technology, which secures cryptocurrency transactions, guarantees transparency and traceability.
“With a large amount of data, it is possible to know who has such and such an address with a high level of reliability”, he insists.
For this reason, “most criminals do not use blockchain” to perpetrate their misdeeds because it is a “very bad tool” for them, he continues.
According to a study by Chainanalysis, only 0.15% of cryptocurrency transactions in 2021 were linked to illicit addresses, a figure significantly lower than traditional bank transfers.
The regulation of crypto-assets is however a central subject, in the United States as in Europe, where the authorities are tightening the screws to better regulate a still recent market.
“In my view, this is going to be a multi-phase process that will take decades,” commented CZ, who recalled that Binance employed former heads of regulatory agencies.
– Ambitions in France
The platform is particularly ambitious in France.
She obtained in early May from the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) her registration to be able to practice, “a crucial step” according to CZ.
“France wants to attract this industry. It sends a very strong message internationally,” insisted the entrepreneur.
The authorization “as a digital asset service provider” is the first in Europe for the group, where authorities in the United Kingdom last year ruled that Binance’s activities could not be properly supervised and posed a risk to consumers.
In France, where it employs a hundred employees, the platform has established its headquarters in Montrouge, in the Paris region, and recently moved to the Station F start-up campus in Paris.
The group has also recently recruited the former deputy director of legal affairs at the AMF Stéphanie Cabossioras.
Questioned by AFP, the Authority affirmed that Ms. Cabossioras had not had to manage the registration procedure for Binance in France, dismissing any suspicion of conflict of interest.