World’s largest cryptocurrency exchange eyes US$1bn profit despite market rout

Bloomberg

Sat, Jul 07, 2018 - Page 10

This year’s cryptocurrency crash has saddled bulls with billions of US dollars in losses, but the world’s largest virtual currency exchange is still making money hand over fist.

Binance (幣安) expects a net profit of US$500 million to US$1 billion this year, chief executive officer Zhao Changpeng (趙長鵬) said in an interview.

First-half revenue was about US$300 million, Zhao said.

Average daily turnover at his venue, which opened a year ago, is roughly US$1.5 billion, and Binance now has 10 million users, he said.

Zhao’s figures illustrate how some cryptocurrency exchanges are thriving despite a rout in digital assets that has seen bitcoin lose 52 percent of its value this year as buyers pull back, venues are repeatedly hacked and regulators increase their scrutiny.

Binance, which has had run-ins with authorities in Japan and Hong Kong, plans to soon allow customers at venues in Uganda, Bermuda and Malta to convert their virtual tokens to fiat currencies, including the euro, as it looks to build on its rapid growth.

Zhao has previously said that Binance had 2 million users at the start of the year.

He started the venue in July last year, opening 11 days after raising US$15 million in an initial coin offering.

As the crypto frenzy peaked late last year, the exchange was hosting as much as US$11 billion of trades a day. Binance topped Coinmarketcap.com’s ranking of exchanges in the past 24 hours, with US$1.3 billion of trading.

In related news, criminals are stealing more cryptocurrency from exchanges and that is driving growth in a cottage industry of services that allows for money laundering of coins, a new report said.

In the first half of the year, more than US$760 million in cryptocurrency was stolen from exchanges — nearly three times more than in all of last year, CipherTrace said in its initial quarterly report on the subject.

CipherTrace is a Menlo Park, California-based blockchain security firm that works with more than 40 companies and governments to trace cryptotransactions.

The current market value of the top 100 cryptocurrencies is about US$270 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com.

Services that clean dirty funds are widely available and some have even advertised through Google AdWords, CipherTrace said.

“There are so many cryptocurrencies now, and they are worth so much money, and there are so many exchanges globally where you can cash out, that we’ve seen not just traditional cybergangs, but we’ve seen a new set of criminals enter this space,” chief executive officer David Jevans said in a telephone interview.

“This overall market expansion has created a whole new generation of cybercriminals that didn’t exist 15 months ago,” he added.