PARIS (AFP) – Cryptocurrencies are here to stay and their dramatic recent crash is just part of an economic cycle, Changpeng Zhao, one of crypto’s most influential figures, told AFP in an interview on Thursday.
The China-born Canadian entrepreneur heads Binance, the biggest exchange in the market that boasted USD32 trillion in transactions last year and 120 million customers.
“It does cause worries,” Zhao said of a slump that has wiped USD2 trillion from the value of crypto assets in the past seven months. “But we expect this, it’s not unusual, the markets go up and down, stock markets go up and down.”
The unflappable mogul, who talked to AFP at the VivaTech conference in Paris, largely steers clear of the flashy displays of wealth associated with many crypto entrepreneurs.
Casually dressed in a company polo shirt, the 44-year-old, who describes himself as a “normal guy”, calmly explained how the firm had weathered a storm that saw others collapse.
“I think we’ve just been very frugal in our spending,” he said.
“We didn’t spend heavily on advertising, we didn’t name stadiums, we didn’t sponsor Super Bowl.”
He quickly added that he did not believe such outlays were necessarily bad, seemingly keen not to directly criticise competitors.
Zhao had earlier tweeted a similar jibe that many took to be directed at Coinbase, a United States (US) exchange that spent heavily on flashy ads but is now laying off hundreds of workers. By way of contrast, Zhao announced this week that Binance was hiring 2,000 new workers.
Binance operates in a largely unregulated corner of the economy that is accused of being a haven for money-laundering, scams, sanctions busting and even terrorist funding.
Zhao called the money-laundering links a “complete myth”.
“We work with law enforcement everywhere in the world,” he said, highlighting that his firm employs ex-law enforcement officers.