• Binance is appearing to come to terms with the fact that it needs to be a regulated entity, and cannot engage indefinite regulatory arbitrage
  • First on the agenda is getting a permanent headquarters, which will likely be in Singapore, but Zhao has yet to confirm this

The world’s largest digital assets exchange is now officially on the hunt for a permanent home.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that while traditional financial institutions are sold on the merits of digital assets as they themselves are regulated entities they can’t be getting involved with organizations that openly flout the world’s regulatory apperatix. So, if Binance wants in on the second part of the digital assets revolution — the merger of traditional institutional capital and crypto — it too will need to play regulatory ball. 

“As we run a centralised exchange, we have come to realise that we need to have a centralised entity to work well with regulators. We need to have clear records of stakeholders’ ownership, transparency and risk controls,” Zhao told the SCMP. 

Zhao said that when he told regulators that Binance had no permanent headquarters, it was an instant reg flag. 

“There are very simple questions regulators usually ask us which our response is kinda funny. The regulators ask us where’s your headquarters, and our response is, well, we don’t have headquarters. That doesn’t go well with regulators. They don’t know how to work with us. Sometimes they even think we are dodgy obviously,” he said. “Four years ago we wanted to embrace decentralization but we do run a centralized exchange. We need a shift. We need to enhance. We are making those changes to make it easier for regulators to work with us.”

The question is, where will Binance touch down? All the signs are pointing to the exchange setting up a permanent shop in Singapore. The city-state has digital asset regulation that is considered by experts to be quite friendly, much more so than Hong Kong, its perennial rival in the traditional finance world.  In August, the exchange announced it had hired former Singapore Exchange executive Richard Teng as CEO of Binance Asia Services Pte, a company it registered in Singapore in 2018.

During the past year, Binance’s seemingly infinite series of local subsidiaries have been targeted by regulators around the world, from the UK to Hong Kong, Thailand and Ontario.

Its exchange token, BNB, took a major plunge in May from around $672 to a low of $261 as regulators began their global crackdown against the exchange. Since then, it has began a recovery and is currently trading at $427.51, according to CoinGecko, up 3% during the last week.  

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  • Blockworks
    Sam Reynolds is a Taipei-based reporter, covering digital assets and regulation throughout Asia. Before joining Blockworks he was an editor at Forkast News and an analyst with IDC.