California: Sam Bankman-Fried, on trial for fraud in New York, isn’t the only crypto founder feeling the heat.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index slashed its estimate of revenues at crypto exchange Binance by 38 per cent after data showed volumes at the firm declined this year. That wiped $11.9 billion from the fortune of Binance’s founder, Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ, dropping him to $17.2 billion.
CZ, 46, played a role in the events that landed Bankman-Fried in federal court. In November, the Binance founder announced he was liquidating a token linked to FTX following a report that Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund Alameda Research also owned a large position in it. Some FTX customers rushed to pull money and the exchange was unable to keep up with the surge in withdrawals. Less than a week later it declared bankruptcy.
That sent Bankman-Fried’s own fortune to zero after peaking at $26 billion in March last year.
The Index calculates Binance’s revenue using spot and derivatives trading data from crypto-tracking services Coingecko and Coinpaprika.
Binance gained market share earlier this year, peaking at 62 per cent of total on-exchange crypto trades in the first quarter, thanks to a zero-fee promotion for popular trading pairs. Once the offer ended, Binance’s share slid to 51 per cent at the end of the third quarter, according to research firm CCData.
Representatives for Binance didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance in June, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission went after it earlier this year for shirking rules that allowed US users to access Binance. Regulatory officials claimed the firm lacked adequate money-laundering controls, inflated trading volumes and mishandled client assets. Binance disputes the allegations and is fighting them in court.
In June, Bloomberg’s wealth index cut the value of Binance’s US exchange to zero after it announced it would no longer transact in dollars, shrinking volumes dramatically. Binance.US had been valued at $4.7 billion in a March 2022 funding round, while CZ’s net worth hit a peak of $96 billion in January of that year.
The pain hasn’t been confined to Binance, as regulatory uncertainty and rising interest rates make other investments more attractive. Spot trading volume at Coinbase Global fell 52 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to CCData.