Malgré l’effondrement du marché des cryptomonnaies, “le secteur ne va pas disparaître”, assured à l’AFP the patron of Binance, the main platform d’échange de cryptoactifs au monde, lors d’un entretien en marge du salon VivaTech in Paris.
The current crisis “creates concerns, but we expected it, it is not unusual,” said crypto-millionaire Changpeng Zhao, one of the most listened to voices in this medium, at the head of a group that claims 120 million customers.
After a good period during the pandemic, cryptocurrencies, known for their volatility, have fallen sharply in recent weeks, suffering from lower risk appetite among investors.
The market briefly dipped below the $1 trillion mark on Tuesday as bitcoin, the queen of virtual “currencies,” fell about 70% from its record high set last November.
Despite these obstacles, Binance, which has almost 6,000 employees, has just opened 2,000 positions that the company hopes to fill by the end of the year.
“We were very cheap” when the market was up, explained the one known only by his initials, CZ.
“We didn’t spend a lot on advertising, we didn’t name stadiums and we weren’t Super Bowl partners,” he said, referring to the picks of some of his rivals.
Despite its popularity in recent years, the use of cryptocurrencies is still associated by some politicians with fraudulent practices such as money laundering, a speech that CZ calls a “total myth”.
The leader, who grew up in China before moving to Canada and acquiring citizenship, insists that blockchain technology, which secures cryptocurrency transactions, ensures transparency and traceability.
“With a large amount of data it is possible to know who has this or that address with a high level of reliability,” he insists.
Therefore, “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 issue, both in the United States and in Europe, where the authorities are tightening the screws to better regulate a still recent market.
“In my opinion, this will be a multi-phase process that will take decades,” CZ commented, recalling that Binance employed former heads of regulatory agencies.
– Ambitions in France
The platform is particularly ambitious in France.
He obtained his registration in early May from the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) to be able to practice, “a crucial step” according to CZ.
“France wants to attract this industry. It transmits a very strong message at an international level”, insisted the businessman.
The authorization “as a digital asset service provider” is a first in Europe for the group, where UK authorities ruled last year 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 hired former AMF deputy director of legal affairs Stéphanie Cabossioras.
Questioned by AFP, the Authority stated that Ms. Cabossioras had not had to manage the Binance registration procedure in France, ruling out any suspicion of a conflict of interest.