Changpeng Zhao, the crypto-billionaire seeks a foothold

A boss on tour

For his seduction operation, Changpeng Zhao, the boss of Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, traded in his eternal black hooded sweatshirt for a dark suit. On November 3, the Chinese-Canadian, commonly known as CZ, was welcomed at the Ministry of the Economy and Finance for a discussion about the future of cryptocurrencies with Cédric O, Secretary of State in charge of the digital transition.

On this occasion, CZ announced that it wanted to invest 100 million euros in a fund intended for the development of blockchain technologies in France and in Europe. “France will be a natural choice for a regional, and even perhaps global, head office”, he declared on November 9 in The echoes. Operating in a decentralized manner, his company does not have a global head office. Then, a week after his French tour, the cryptomillionaire praised the attractiveness of Dubai for a potential installation. The Irish press, for its part, revealed in October that Binance had created three companies in Ireland to anchor itself in this fiscal eldorado.

A jealous host

“This story of settling in Ireland is a snub to France”, comments Romain Saguy, marketing director of Coinhouse, a French crypto-asset platform. He and other French protagonists in the sector have little taste for the welcome given to CZ by Bercy. “A member of the French government who rolls out the red carpet to a foreign actor who does not respect the regulations is a real affront to us”, he is indignant. Not yet registered with the Autorité des marchés financiers, Binance cannot offer its services or advertise to the French public. The authorization request is said to be in progress.

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His coming to Paris “Was greeted by the tense smiles of local actors long snubbed by the French government”, confirms Alexander Stachtchenko, co-founder of the Association for the Development of Digital Assets (ADAN). Asked by M Le magazine du Monde, Cédric O judges these debates “Excessive” : “Binance is one of the most important players in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It is normal that we met in the same way that we discuss with Facebook or Microsoft. ”

A crypto prodigy

Binance is to cryptocurrencies what Google is to search engines. The company manages 70% of global crypto-asset trading ahead of Coinbase, which totals just 8%. With his teenage look, its founder is a sort of Steve Jobs of the cryptosphere. Son of two Chinese teachers, CZ emigrated in 1989 to Canada, where he studied computer science before working for the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges, then for the economic news site Bloomberg.

Passionate about bitcoin, CZ sold his Shanghai apartment in 2014 to invest in this currency. After a few jobs in the blockchain industry, the entrepreneur founded Binance in July 2017. Six months later, the site is number one in its sector. CZ is now at the head of a fortune estimated at 2.6 billion dollars and a company of nearly 2,000 employees. On Twitter, the forty-something often communicates about his simple lifestyle and the non-need to acquire real estate that he considers “Illiquid”.

A new owner

“Head offices or company offices are an old concept like SMS or MMS”, Changpeng Zhao tweeted in November 2019, touting the model of a transnational company. Without a head office, Binance can mainly offer risky financial products, lucrative operations for trading sites but prohibited in some countries. However, after a year 2021 during which the company suffered several setbacks in the face of financial market regulators in the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands, the United States or Thailand, Binance has revised its positions.

Changpeng Zhao, who claimed to own nothing but cryptos, has just announced that he bought an apartment in Dubai to show his attachment to the emirate where he could settle. “We must be regulated in order to grow”, he said during his speech at Bercy. Above all, these closing doors leave him no choice.

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