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Binance: crypto platform’s US affiliate could find chilly market reception

Binance is a curious company. Founded in China and registered in the Cayman Islands, it is by far the world’s largest platform for cryptocurrency trades. It also has no official headquarters and operates outside regulatory control. That may not stop spin-off Binance.US from targeting public markets, after it raised funding at a $4.5bn valuation this month.

Binance.US was created in 2019 to appease US lawmakers who did not want Americans to use Binance directly. It requires more disclosures from users and is a smaller exchange. Daily trading is worth $431mn, according to CoinMarketCap data. Its parent company trades roughly $26bn of transactions each day.

The global crypto market is estimated to have a market worth more than $2tn. Binance’s own digital token is up more than 1,000 per cent since the start of 2021.

Binance.US is wise to raise funds while it can. Revenue depends on trading volumes in crypto, which are notoriously volatile. It is sensible to put aside capital when it can, while building relations with external investors such as RRE Ventures.

If Binance.US lists, as rival Blockchain.com reportedly plan to do, both would trade at the whim of crypto prices. Shares in crypto platform Coinbase have followed bitcoin’s sell-off and change hands for $168 a share, down from $343 in November last year. At 34 times forecast earnings, the stock is trading below the one-year average.

Settling relations with regulators would smooth prices. Binance, its US affiliate and other crypto platforms are trying to warm the world up to the idea of further crypto regulation on their own terms. Binance founder and chief executive Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ, says he is seeking a physical headquarters.

But mainstream acceptance will be slow. Regulators continue to worry that crypto is being used for money laundering and other crimes. US SEC chair Gary Gensler has called crypto markets a “Wild West”. The noise is off-putting for both prospective investors and employees. Binance.US was last year congratulated for appointing Brian Brooks, a former banking regulator, as chief executive. He left after just three months in the job.

The Lex team is interested in hearing more from readers. Please tell us what you think of Binance in the comments section below.

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