Binance Holdings Ltd.
Company typePrivate
IndustryCryptocurrency
FoundedJuly 2017; 6 years ago (July 2017)[1][2]
Founders
Headquarters
Unknown
Area served
Global, except for the United States[5]
Key people
Richard Teng (CEO)[6]
ProductsCryptocurrency exchange, cryptocurrencies
RevenueUS$12 billion (2022)[7]
Number of employees
7,000 (2023)[8]
Subsidiaries
  • Sakura Exchange
  • Trust Wallet
  • Binance Charity
Websitewww.binance.com Edit this at Wikidata

Binance Holdings Ltd., branded Binance, is a global[9] company that operates the largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of daily trading volume of cryptocurrencies. Binance was founded in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao, a developer who had previously created high-frequency trading software. Binance was initially based in China, then moved to Japan shortly before the Chinese government restricted cryptocurrency companies. Binance subsequently left Japan for Malta and currently has no official company headquarters.

Binance has been the subject of lawsuits and challenges from regulatory authorities throughout its history. As a result, Binance has been banned from operating or ordered to cease operations in some countries, and has been issued fines. It has been alleged that Binance could be used as a funding mechanism for terrorist groups. In November 2023, the company pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court to money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting, and sanctions violations. In 2021, Binance was put under investigation by both the United States Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service on allegations of money laundering and tax offenses.[10][11][12] The UK's Financial Conduct Authority ordered Binance to stop all regulated activity in the United Kingdom in June 2021.[13] That same year, Binance shared client data, including names and addresses, with the Russian government.[14]

History

5 years birthday Binance cake in Paris in July 2022.

2013–2017: company beginnings and move out of China

CEO Changpeng Zhao founded Fusion Systems in 2005 in Shanghai; the company built high-frequency trading systems for stockbrokers. In 2013, he joined Blockchain.info as the third member of the cryptocurrency wallet's team. He also worked at OKCoin as CTO for less than a year, a platform for spot trading between fiat and digital assets.[15] He was hired at this position in 2014 by Yi He, with whom he co-founded Binance several years later.[4]

The company was founded in 2017 in China but moved its servers and headquarters out of the country in advance of the Chinese government's ban on cryptocurrency trading in September 2017.[16] Zhao asked He to join Binance, and she helped rewrite parts of the white paper for Binance's $15 million initial coin offering.[4]

2018–2019: launch of stablecoin and security breach

In January 2018 it was the largest cryptocurrency exchange with a market capitalization of $1.3 billion,[17] a title it had retained as late as April 2021, despite competition from Coinbase, among others.[18]

In March 2018, Binance announced its intentions to open an office in Malta after stricter regulations in Japan and China.[19] In April 2018, Binance signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Bermuda.[20] Months later, a similar memorandum was signed with the Malta Stock Exchange to develop a platform for trading security tokens.[21] In 2019, the company announced Binance Jersey, an independent entity from its parent Binance.com exchange, with the aim to expand its European influence. Jersey-based exchange offers fiat-to-cryptocurrency pairs, including the Euro and the British pound.[22]

In April 2018, Binance launched the Binance Charity Foundation. The charity's goal is to support the advancement of blockchain-enabled philanthropy with a focus on third-world countries.[23]

In June 2018, Binance and three other firms raised $65 million for sports blockchain company Chiliz.[24]

In July 2018, Binance acquired Trust Wallet, a decentralized cryptocurrency wallet for an undisclosed sum. However, Binance, confirmed that the compensation is a mixture of cash, Binance stock, and a portion of its BNB token.[25]

In August 2018, Binance along with three other big exchanges raised $32 million for a "stablecoin" project. The idea of stablecoins is to provide a cryptocurrency without the notorious volatility of Bitcoin and other popular digital assets.[26]

In January 2019, Binance announced that it had partnered with Israel-based payment processor Simplex to enable cryptocurrency purchases with debit and credit cards, including Visa and Mastercard. The purchases are subject to Simplex's local bank policies and are limited to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple's XRP.[27]

On 7 May 2019, Binance revealed that it had been the victim of a "large scale security breach" in which hackers had stolen 7,000 Bitcoin worth around $40 million at the time.[28] Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said the hackers "used a variety of techniques, including phishing, viruses and other attacks" and structured their transaction "in a way that passed our existing security checks."[29] Binance halted further withdrawals and deposits but allowed trading to continue. The site pledged to reimburse customers through its "Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU)".[30][31] Withdrawals resumed by 19 May.[32][better source needed]

In June 2019 the company announced it would prohibit US passport holders as well as anyone residing in the US, and would set up a new entity binance.us to support those customers.[33] Later in 2023 Forbes leaked a document allegedly from Binance titled "TaiChi" that proposed this regulatory solution to reduce US regulatory risk.[34] Binance subsequently denied the document, sued Forbes for defamation, and subsequently dropped the lawsuit.[35]

In September 2019, the exchange began offering perpetual futures contracts, allowing leverage as high as 125 times the value of the contracts.[36] In November 2019, Binance announced it was acquiring Indian bitcoin exchange WazirX, which became disputed in August 2022 when Binance founder Zhao claimed the deal was never signed.[37]

2020–2023: acquisitions and investments

On 21 February 2020, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) issued a public statement responding to media reports referring to Binance as a 'Malta-based' cryptocurrency company. The statement noted that Binance "is not authorized by the MFSA to operate in the cryptocurrency sphere and is therefore not subject to regulatory oversight by the MFSA." The MFSA added that it was "assessing if Binance has any activities in Malta which may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight."[38]

In July 2020, Binance announced a "strategic partnership" with a Chinese state-owned enterprise under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council and that Binance had joined a group "aiming to facilitate" the Belt and Road Initiative.[39][40]

On 28 October 2020, Forbes staff released leaked documents showing that Binance and Changpeng Zhao created an elaborate corporate structure designed to intentionally deceive United States regulators and secretly profit from cryptocurrency investors located in the country.[5] Binance officially blocks access from IP addresses located in the United States, but "potential customers would be taught how to evade geographic restrictions", Forbes claimed.[5]

In May 2021 it was reported that Binance was under investigation by both the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Department of Justice on allegations of money laundering and tax offenses.[10][11][12]

In February 2022, Binance took a $200 million stake in Forbes.[41] It's unclear if this investment was ever completed. In May 2022, Forbes Global Media Holdings halted plans to go public via a merger with Magnum Opus Acquisition Ltd, a Hong Kong-based special-purpose acquisition company.[42] Zhao said the plan had "changed a little bit, but I believe that's still in discussions."[43] In February 2023, Zhao tweeted his disappointment that Forbes "continues to write baseless articles" about Binance.[44]

In March 2022, amidst the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Binance's CEO Changpeng Zhao, refused to ban users from Russia, citing "financial freedom".[45] Binance later softened the tone of their opposition but not their policy, and also pointed to their donation of $10 million for humanitarian needs in Ukraine.[46]

Over 2022, Reuters released several investigative reports on Binance. In January, Reuters documented multiple instances where Binance had withheld information from government investigators and business partners and had ignored warnings from their own compliance teams regarding money laundering risks and poor know your customer compliance. Binance disputed the accuracy of this report.[47] In June, Reuters found that Binance had acted as a conduit for the laundering of at least $2.35 billion from hacks, $780 million dollars laundered from the Russian darknet market Hydra, and €800 million from investment scams. The report also found that Binance had been used by the Lazarus Group to launder funds stolen by North Korea to support its weapons program. Binance dispute these findings.[48] In April, Reuters reported that, in 2021, Binance shared information with Rosfinmonitoring about funds raised by late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's network.[49][50]

In March 2023, the exchange banned Russian residents from buying euros and dollars through its p2p service. European users, in turn, lost the ability to buy rubles.[51] In September 2023, Binance announced it was leaving Russia and selling its business to the CommEX platform, which had been launched the previous week.[52][53] Binance accounts of Russian users were able to transfer to the new platform until March 2024. CommEX shut down on 10 May 2024.[54]

On 27 May 2022, Binance announced the registration of its legal entity in Italy and plans to open offices in the country. At the time, the company was also seeking registration in more European countries, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and Austria.[55] Binance registered to operate in Spain in July 2022,[56] and in Sweden in January 2023.[57][58]

On 13 June 2022 Binance announced that users would, for an unspecified period of time, be unable to withdraw their funds held in Bitcoin, as the value of cryptocurrencies suffered serious declines.[59] Two hours after that announcement, Bitcoin withdrawals were allowed to resume.[60][better source needed]

Binance sponsored the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.[61][62] It is also taking crypto education to many countries on the continent.[63]

Binance invested US$500 million towards the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk that completed in October 2022. Following the investment, the company announced the creation of a team to work on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies could be helpful to Twitter.[64][65]

On 8 November 2022, Binance offered to buy rival cryptocurrency exchange FTX's non-US operations (FTX.com) to help cover the latter's liquidity crunch.[66][67] Binance backed out of the deal the next day citing concerns about FTX's business practices and investigations by US financial regulators.[68]

On 30 November 2022, Binance purchased Sakura Exchange. The acquisition allowed Binance to re-enter the Japanese cryptocurrency market.[69][70]

In July 2023, several senior executives resigned from the company.[71] The Wall Street Journal reported that Binance had cut its global workforce by as many as 1,000 staff.[72] CNBC reported that the number of staff cuts could total 3,000 by the end of 2023.[73] Zhao didn't deny layoffs were occurring but claimed both the reported numbers and the reasons for the senior executive departures weren't accurate. In June 2023 Binance had 790 million US dollars in outflows after the SEC announced its lawsuit and Forbes reported that the company had 120 million users globally.[74] On November 21, 2023, a US judge convicted Binance on multiple charges—including violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, money laundering schemes, unlicensed money transmitting, and sanctions violations. As part of the plea deal, the company agreed to pay $4 billion in fines, and Changpeng Zhao stepped down as CEO with a $50 million fine.[75] Zhao was succeeded by Richard Teng.[75]

According to a 2024 report in The Wall Street Journal, in 2023 Binance fired several members of its internal investigation team who were tasked with investigating market manipulation such as pump and dump schemes and wash trading. According to The Wall Street Journal, an internal investigation within Binance found that a VIP client of the company, a trading and investment firm named DWF Labs, had previously advertised its ability to manipulate the market by generating "believable" artificial volume to increase the price of tokens. The investigation also found examples of DWF selling tokens its founder had promoted causing a crash in those token's price, which is consistent with a pump and dump scheme, and is against Binanace's terms of service. In response to this report, Binance fired the investigators and retained DWF as a client, saying that the self trading could have been accidental and that the internal team collaborated too closely with one of DWF's competitors. Binance has denied any wrongdoing.[76]

According to a 2024 study by John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Binance is the most popular exchange used in pig butchering scams.[77][78] Binance has occasionally cooperated with US law enforcement to return money lost in such scams.[77][79][80][81]

Tokens

BNB

Build'N'Build
Denominations
CodeBNB
Previous namesBinance Coin
Development
White paperBNB Whitepaper
Initial releaseJuly 2017; 6 years ago (2017-07)
Development statusActive
Ledger
Block explorerbscscan.com
Supply limit200,000,000
Valuation
Exchange rate~300$
Website
Websitewww.bnbchain.org

BNB (Build'N'Build) is a token on the BNB chain. It was originally called Binance Coin when it was launched in July 2017,[citation needed] for users to pay fees on the company's platform. By 2021, BNB had the third highest market capitalization among cryptocurrencies.[82] The token was initially on the Ethereum network, then moved to BNB Smart Chain when it was released in September 2020.[83][84] In February 2022, the company changed the token's name to Build'N'Build. At that time, Binance Smart Chain was also renamed to BNB Chain. BNB Chain had previously been criticized for being overly centralized, which had led to several exploits on the network.[85][86] BNB had 44 validators As of October 2022.[87]

BUSD

Binance USD
Denominations
CodeBUSD
Development
Initial releaseSeptember 10, 2019; 4 years ago (2019-09-10)
Development statusActive
Ledger
Circulating supply19,016,156,336.57 (As of 23 August 2022)
Supply limitUnlimited
Valuation
Exchange ratePegged to the US Dollar
Website
Websitebinance.com/en/busd

BUSD, or Binance USD, is a US Dollar pegged stablecoin issued by Binance.[88] According to Binance it is backed 1:1 by a reserve of US Dollars and was founded by them in partnership with Paxos who is the issuer of the token.[citation needed]

In January 2023, Bloomberg reported that Binance-Peg BUSD "was often undercollateralized between 2020 and 2021. On three separate occasions, the gap between reserves and supply surpassed $1 billion." A Binance spokesperson said the "process of maintaining the backing … has not always been flawless" but "has been much improved with enhanced discrepancy checks."[89]

as of 2022, BUSD was the third largest stablecoin by market capitalisation[90] following Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC).[91]

The New York Department of Financial Services issued an order to Paxos to stop minting new BUSD tokens in February 2023.[92][93]

First Digital USD

In a formal statement issued on September 1, 2023, Binance announced it would discontinue support for its proprietary stablecoin, BUSD. The company advised users in possession of Binance USD assets to migrate to First Digital USD (FDUSD), with the conclusion of this transition set for February 2024.[94][non-primary source needed]

Legal status

Australia

On 6 April 2023, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission cancelled the Australian financial services licence held by Oztures Trading Pty Ltd trading as Binance Australia Derivatives (Binance).[95]

On 18 May 2023, Binance Australia announced that it had lost access to Australia's PayID payment system "due to a decision made by our third party payment service provider."[96] The same day, Westpac bank banned Australian customers transacting with Binance.[97][98]

Belgium

On June 23, 2023, Belgium's Financial Services and Markets Authority ordered Binance to “cease, with immediate effect, offering or providing any and all” virtual currency services in the country. The regulator said Binance had been offering such services “from countries that are not members of the European Economic Area.”[99][100]

Canada

On 17 March 2022, Binance has confirmed in an undertaking to the Ontario Securities Commission that it would stop opening new accounts and halting trading in existing accounts for users in Ontario.[101][102]

In May 2023, Binance announced it would withdraw from the Canadian market due to the introduction of stricter rules in the country.[103]

On May 30, 2023, it was reported that the Ontario Securities Commission had issued an investigation order into whether Binance may have taken steps to circumvent Ontario securities law and compliance controls prior to its withdrawal from the Canadian market.[104]

In May 2024, FINTRAC announced that it had imposed a $4.32 million dollar fine on Binance for violating Canadian money laundering and terrorist financing laws.[105]

France

In May 2022, Binance gained regulatory approval in France, allowing the company to provide digital asset services in the country. France is the first European country to give Binance regulatory approval.[106] In June 2023, the Paris prosecutor's office announced that Binance was under preliminary investigation for illegal canvassing of clients and money-laundering.[107]

Germany

In April 2021, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority in Germany warned that the company risked fines for not releasing an investor prospectus for the stock tokens it has issued.[108]

Italy

In July 2021, Italy's Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa ordered Binance to be blocked from operating.[109] In May 2022, Binance gained regulatory approval in Italy, allowing the company to provide digital asset services in the country.[110]

India

In August 2022, India's Enforcement Directorate froze the assets of WazirX, an exchange owned by Binance, as part of a money laundering investigation.[111] Following the event, CEO Zhao claimed that they never owned WazirX or owned any equity in Zanmai Labs—the operating entity of WazirX—citing "a few issues" that prevented the completion of the acquisition. The co-founder of WazirX, Nischal Shetty, disputed Zhao's claims asserting that Binance had indeed acquired them.[112] On December 28, Financial Intelligence Unit (India) recommended blocking the URLs of nine crypto entities, including Binance on the grounds of non compliance to the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).[113]

On 12 January 2024, The Binance application was removed from istore and Google Play Store to prevent Indian Crypto investors from using them.[114]

Japan

On 25 June 2021, Japan's Financial Services Agency warned Binance that it was not registered to do business in Japan.[115] This was the second notice Binance received from the FSA.[116] Previously, a similar warning was issued on 23 March 2018.[117]

Netherlands

In April 2022, the Dutch central bank announced a €3.3m fine for Binance due to offering services within the Netherlands without being registered in the country. The fine was issued to the company after an official warning was issued to the company during August 2021.[118] In June 2023, Binance announced that it was leaving the Netherlands after failing to obtain regulatory approval.[119]

Nigeria

In June 2023, Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission recently deemed Binance's activities in the country as “illegal.” It issued a declaration stating that Binance Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Binance, was operating unlawfully in the country. The regulator specifically instructed Binance to cease all its activities within Nigeria.[120][121]

On 28 February 2024, two Binance executives, Nadeem Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambaryan, were detained by Nigeria's government on allegations of illegal operations and forex manipulation.[122] Anjarwalla escaped custody[123] in March. The Nigerian government subsequently filed a criminal charge against Binance for tax evasion. Amid regulatory issues in Nigeria, Binance disabled its Naira services on 8 March 2024. In May, Binance's CEO, Richard Teng, claimed that officials sought a bribe of cryptocurrency to resolve the issues,[124][125] but the country's House of Representatives denied the allegations, stating that Binance's actions were an attempt to divert attention from serious criminal allegations against the company.

Philippines

On Monday, 25 March 2024, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines has moved forward with plans to block Binance's website, citing concerns over the security of Filipino investors' funds. This decision follows the SEC's identification of Binance as operating without the necessary licensing for its investment and trading platform. Despite issuing warnings since November of the previous year, Binance continued its operations prompting the SEC to seek assistance from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in blocking access to Binance's website and affiliated pages.[126]

SEC Chair Emilio Aquino emphasized the potential threat to investors' security posed by continued access to Binance's platform. Despite Binance's significant presence and activity in the Philippines, the SEC aims to provide investors with ample time to transition their investments to authorized platforms. Additionally, the SEC has collaborated with major tech companies like Google and Meta to halt Binance's digital advertising efforts targeting Filipino users, although the Binance app remains available for download on mainstream app stores.[126]

Thailand

Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission [th] filed a criminal complaint against Binance on 2 July 2021, "for commission of offence under the Emergency Decree on Digital Asset Business B.E. 2561 (2018)". Additionally, Thailand's SEC cited Binance for operating without a license, a violation of Section 26 of the Digital Asset Businesses Emergency Decree.[127]

In May 2023, Thailand's Ministry of Finance issued a cryptocurrency exchange license to Gulf Binance, the joint venture of Binance and Gulf Innova, a subsidiary of Thai billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi's Gulf Energy Development. The exchange will reportedly launch later this year.[128]

United Kingdom

In January 2021, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority began requiring firms dealing with cryptoassets to register in order to comply with anti-money laundering rules.[129] In June 2021, Binance was ordered by the FCA to stop all regulated activity in the United Kingdom.[130][131] In June 2023, the FCA canceled unused permissions granted to Binance Markets Limited, meaning the company “can no longer provide regulated activities and products” in the UK.[132]

United States

In 2019, Binance was banned in the United States on regulatory grounds. In response, Binance and other investors opened Binance.US, a separate exchange designed to comply with all applicable US federal laws, which nonetheless is banned in six states: Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, New York, Texas, and Vermont.[133] In May 2021, Bloomberg News reported that Binance was under investigation by the United States Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service for money laundering and tax evasion.[134] In June 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched an enquiry into Binance to determine if the company's 2017 ICO of BNB tokens amounted to an illegal sale of a security.[135] In December 2022, Binance's American entity Binance.US announced that it would acquire Voyager Digital's assets in a $1.02 billion deal. This deal was called off in April 2023 due to what Binance.US called a "hostile and uncertain regulatory climate."[136]

Arkham Intelligence provided data in January 2023 that identified “an alleged nexus of money laundering” from Bitzlato through intermediate wallets of Binance. Over the course of several years, it was found that the intermediary wallet deposited $15 million worth of crypto onto Binance’s platform.[137]

In February 2023, Reuters reported that over the first three months of 2021, Binance transferred over $404 million from a Binance. US account at Silvergate Bank to Merit Peak Ltd., a company managed by Zhao. Catherine Coley, then-CEO of Binance US, was quoted in messages to another Binance executive saying that "no one mentioned" the "unexpected" transfers. Coley left Binance.US shortly thereafter. Reuters said the transfers called into question the purported independence of Binance.US from Binance.com. A Binance.US spokesperson said the Reuters report used "outdated information" without further elaboration.[138]

On 1 March 2023, US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, and Roger Marshall wrote a letter to Binance describing the exchange as "a hotbed of illegal financial activity that has facilitated over $10 billion in payments to criminals and sanctions evaders." The letter formally requested documents related to Binance's compliance with regulations.[139][140] On 27 March 2023, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a lawsuit against Binance and Zhao in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claiming willful evasion of US law and allegedly breaching derivatives rules.[141][142] The agency accused Binance of breaking rules intended to thwart money laundering operations,[143] pointing to internal communications describing transactions by Palestinian militant organization Hamas, and suspected criminals, with the company's money laundering reporting officer allegedly remarking "we see the bad, but we close 2 eyes".[141] In April 2023, three unidentified trading firms cited as "VIP" clients of Binance were revealed to be Radix Trading, Jane Street Capital and Tower Research Capital.[144]

In June 2023, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it was suing Binance and Zhao on 13 charges for alleged violations of US securities rules.[145][146]

On September 12, 2023, Binance.US announced the resignation of CEO Brian Shroder and a reduction of the exchange’s workforce by around 100 positions, roughly one-third of its total staff. Binance.US cited the SEC’s civil suit as “an unfortunate example” of the agency’s “aggressive attempts to cripple our industry.”[147]

In October 2023, coinciding with the outbreak of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Binance and Tether were described as a source of terrorist funding by US senator Cynthia Lummis and US Representative French Hill, with a letter calling for the Department of Justice to crack down on the exchange.[148][149]

In November 2023, Binance agreed to plea guilty and pay a $4.3 billion fine. Zhao agreed to pay a $50 million fine and step down as CEO of the company, but was allowed to maintain his ownership as part of the deal.[150][151]

On November 21, 2023, Binance pleaded guilty to federal charges in the U.S., admitting that it engaged in money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting, and sanctions violations; and has agreed to pay over $4 billion in fines.[152]

On January 31, 2024, Binance was sued by the US victims of the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel, as well as their families, in Manhattan federal court for allegedly facilitating Hamas's terrorist activities by providing a funding mechanism for Hamas. The plaintiffs include released hostages of Hamas and families of victims who were killed in the attack.[153][154][155]

In April 2024, Zhao was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to violating U.S. money laundering laws.[156][157][158]

See also

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