Binance has embarked on an aggressive expansion plan in Southeast Asia where the cryptocurrency exchange is looking to capitalize on booming trading activity to establish leadership in the region, and build influence in local markets.
These ambitions were materialized by a series of appearances Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao – commonly known as “CZ” – has made over the past month across the region during which the business executive met with government officials, regulators and industry players to discuss his company’s plans and aspirations, ink strategic partnerships, and assert his desire to be part of regulatory discussions.
In Cambodia, Binance signed on June 30, 2022 an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Regulator of Cambodia to help develop a legal framework for regulating and further the local digital asset industry. The partnership will see Binance share technical knowledge and experience on digital asset operations, conduct training on digital assets, and provide counsel on regulatory matters.
In Vietnam, CZ attended the Vietnam NFT Summit 2022 organized on June 04, 2022 by industry trade group Vietnam Blockchain Association, during which the two organizations unveiled a partnership focusing on research exchange, blockchain technology applications, and talent training.
At another event during CZ’s visit to Vietnam, the founder shared hopes for the government to create favorable conditions for Binance to expand its operations locally and voiced his commitment to remaining compliant with local regulation.
In the Philippines, CZ met with officials last month to discuss regulatory and banking support for expansion in the country. During a media briefing on June 08, 2022, the company shared plans to enter the market, stating that it was interested in at least two licenses: the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license, and the Electronic Money Issuer (EMI) license.
Binance is also looking for local partners, CZ said, and is open to investing in both the local fintech sector and banking industry.
In Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, the company is tying up with local players to either establish a presence or strengthen its footprint.
At the Crypto Market Trends and Future Opportunities event, organized on June 02, 2022 by Malaysian crypto exchange MX Global, Binance said it was willing to work closely together with local crypto trading platforms to raise awareness among public users, expand the industry as a whole, and accelerate cryptocurrency adoption in the country.
The event was attended by about 250 guests including industry players, retail and institutional investors, as well as representatives of the Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia, and corporate Malaysia.
Similarly, in Singapore, Binance acquired back in December 2021 18% of local regulated private securities exchange Hg Exchange (HGX), consequently withdrawing its application for a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to offer digital payment token services.
In Indonesia, plans to launch a new digital asset exchange were unveiled last year. A joint venture comprising Binance and a consortium led by MDI Ventures (MDI), the venture capital (VC) arm of Indonesia’s largest telecoms company Telkom Indonesia, was formed to launch and operate the exchange.
Members of the consortium haven’t been disclosed but they are said to have access to more than 170 million consumers in Indonesia.
A similar strategy has been adopted in Thailand where Binance announced earlier this year a joint venture with Gulf Energy Development to setup a digital asset trading platform.
Gulf Energy Development CFO Yupapin Wangviwat told Reuters in February that she expected the joint venture to take about six months to obtain the license for trading and then other features would follow.
One of the country’s biggest power producers, Gulf Energy Development has been diversifying its portfolio with investments into renewable energy, motorway projects and telecoms.
Crypto trading has exploded in Thailand with transactions reaching 251 billion baht (US$7.57 billion) in November 2021, according to the Bangkok Post, which cites official data. Trading accounts surged to about 2 million at the end of 2021, from just 170,000 earlier that year, a ministry official said in January 2022.
Binance has been under heavy scrutiny and face numerous regulatory inquiries in several jurisdictions, mostly involving allegations of money laundering and tax evasion, as well as litigation from traders who had their accounts frozen.
This past year has seen the company beefing up its legal, compliance and security teams, as well as working closely with financial regulators from around the world to build trust.
Founded in 2017, Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, handling daily spot trading volume of more than US$13 billion and daily derivatives volume of over US$60 billion, according to data from CoinGecko.
The company has been on an expansion spree and is now looking to expand its global workforce by 2,000 to under 10,000, a top executive told Nikkei Asia earlier this month.