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Binance’s Founder Stays Defiant Amid Regulatory Pressure, Vows to Continue Expansion

Binance faces regulatory challenges and executive departures, but founder CZ remains determined

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Binance CEO

In the face of mounting regulatory challenges and the departure of key executives, Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire founder of Binance Holdings Ltd., remains resolute in defending the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Despite recent setbacks and ongoing investigations, Zhao took to Twitter to express his determination, stating, “we continue to BUILD, and continue to hire.”

Binance, once hailed as a trailblazer in the digital asset sector, has been grappling with a regulatory crisis on multiple fronts. The departures of the chief strategy officer, general counsel, and compliance official have added to the uncertainty surrounding the exchange’s future prospects.

The vacancies left by these executives have raised fresh concerns about Binance’s ability to navigate the intensifying scrutiny from regulatory bodies in the United States, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.

To counter what he calls “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), Zhao has been tirelessly defending Binance against mounting criticism and negative sentiment. While the platform’s share of spot crypto trading volumes has been declining, and its competitors, such as FTX, have experienced bankruptcies, Zhao remains steadfast in his commitment to protect users and uphold Binance’s position as the largest crypto exchange.

The recent departures of Patrick Hillmann, Binance’s chief strategy officer, along with Steven Christie, senior vice president for compliance, and Hon Ng, general counsel, have raised eyebrows in the industry. Hillmann announced his departure on good terms via Twitter, while the new general counsel, Eleanor Hughes, was named as the replacement for Ng. However, the specific reasons behind these departures remain undisclosed.

According to a person familiar with the matter, Binance’s US operations employed nearly 600 individuals. During midyear performance reviews in June, some employees were asked if they were willing to relocate, and those who declined were reportedly let go. Yibo Ling, chief business officer of Binance, was among the US staff members who have recently left the company.

In response to speculations regarding the departures, Zhao refuted the claims made by the media, stating that turnover is a normal occurrence in any company and that the reasons attributed to the departures were inaccurate.

He highlighted Binance’s remarkable growth, having expanded from 30 to 8,000 employees in just six years.

While Binance battles regulatory probes on various fronts, the most notable being the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit accusing the company and Zhao of mishandling customer funds and breaking securities rules, the exchange remains resolute.

Binance has described the SEC action as “disappointing” and has expressed its intent to defend its platform vigorously. Additionally, the company faces a lawsuit from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the US Justice Department has reportedly been investigating Binance.

Further adding to Binance’s woes, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission recently conducted searches at Binance Australia locations as part of an investigation into the Australian operation’s defunct local derivatives business.

Regulatory backlash has not been limited to Australia, as France and Belgium have also imposed stricter measures on the exchange. This trend of heightened scrutiny has led to some banking partners severing ties with Binance, making it more challenging for customers to transact and withdraw fiat currency.

According to a report from CCData, Binance’s share of non-derivatives trading volume dropped to 42% in June, marking the lowest level since August 2022. This decline can be attributed, in part, to Binance’s decision to halt certain popular trading pairs, further impacting the platform’s market position.

The native token of Binance, BNB, has also experienced a decline, falling approximately 1% on Friday amidst broader weakness in the digital asset market. Currently trading at around $218, BNB has seen an 11% decline this year, in stark contrast to the 45% gain recorded by the top 100 tokens. The fate of BNB and Binance remains intertwined, with the performance of one often impacting the other.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Nigeria’s SEC to Enforce Weekly, Monthly Reports from Crypto Service Providers

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced a new regulatory framework requiring Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) to submit weekly and monthly trading statistics.

This move is part of a broader effort to monitor and regulate Nigeria’s burgeoning crypto market, according to a document released by the SEC titled “A Framework on Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program for the Onboarding of Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) and other Digital Investments Service Providers (DISPs).”

The framework aims to bring more structure to the country’s crypto ecosystem by amending existing rules on digital asset issuance, offering platforms, exchanges, and custodians.

The SEC’s initiative is seen as a significant step toward enhancing oversight and ensuring compliance within the rapidly evolving digital asset space.

Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program

The Accelerated Regulatory Incubation Program (ARIP) will provide a special window for onboarding VASPs. The SEC has outlined specific reporting requirements for participants in the ARIP, including:

  • Weekly and monthly trading statistics.
  • Quarterly financials.
  • Compliance reports demonstrating adherence to the SEC’s conditions.
  • Reports on key issues such as misconduct, fraud, or operational incidents.
  • Actions taken to address customer complaints and emergent risks.

A Growing Market

Nigeria boasts one of the largest peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto markets globally. According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, crypto transactions in the country amounted to $56.7 billion between July 2022 and June 2023, averaging $1.09 billion weekly.

Industry and Regulatory Insights

Senator Ihenyen, lead partner and head of blockchain and virtual assets practice at Infusion Lawyers, emphasized the importance of regulating digital assets for economic and security reasons.

“Nigeria can no longer afford to keep pushing digital assets underground for obvious economic and security reasons,” Ihenyen said.

He noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recognition of the SEC’s regulatory role marks a positive shift for the sector, with regulators now working together to ensure consumer protection and investor safety.

Comparisons have been drawn with regulatory practices in South Africa, where a similar approach has been adopted to meet Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing for digital assets.

“Execution is what will make the difference,” said an industry expert. “We’ve never been lacking in regulations.”

Government and Industry Reactions

Earlier in July, Wale Edun, Nigeria’s minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, urged the SEC to address the complexities of crypto regulation.

“The SEC board should be willing to accept the challenge of regulating these new areas, particularly crypto, as they are fast-moving complex areas,” Edun stated.

The Senate Committee on Capital Markets also emphasized the need for crypto regulation to ensure accountability and protect investors’ funds.

Osita Izunaso, chairman of the committee, pointed out, “The issue of cryptocurrency must be regulated because Nigerians are trading in crypto. Since Nigerians are trading in crypto, why are we not regulating it? Where is the money going if we don’t regulate activities in the crypto market?”

Compliance and Challenges

The new regulatory framework aims to facilitate the onboarding of entities willing to engage in virtual asset activities and enhance the SEC’s understanding of digital asset business models.

However, some industry insiders have raised concerns about the practicality of certain requirements, such as the need for a physical presence for crypto companies.

Chimezie Chuta, founder and coordinator of the Blockchain Nigeria User Group, highlighted the potential benefits of regulation for tax revenues.

However, others worry about over-regulation. “We are now like banks that are over-regulated. Between 2020 and now, we have had new regulations and changes to existing rules, but where has that taken us to?” questioned a Lagos-based crypto player.

As Nigeria’s crypto market continues to evolve, the SEC’s new regulatory framework represents a crucial step towards ensuring transparency, accountability, and consumer protection in the digital assets space.

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KuCoin Announces New 7.5% VAT on Transaction Fees for Nigerian Customers

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KuCoin has announced the implementation of a 7.5% Value-Added Tax (VAT) on transaction fees.

This new regulation will take effect on July 8th, 2024, impacting all users whose Know Your Customer (KYC) information is registered in Nigeria.

KuCoin, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange platforms, revealed this update in a statement addressed to its Nigerian users.

The tax will be applied exclusively to transaction fees, not the overall transaction amount.

For example, a user buying 1,000 USDT worth of Bitcoin will incur a fee of 1 USDT at the standard 0.1% fee rate.

The new VAT at 7.5% will apply to this fee, resulting in an additional charge of 0.075 USDT.

Consequently, the net amount available for the transaction will be 998.925 USDT.

KuCoin clarified that the VAT would cover all types of transactions on its platform. The move aligns with recent regulatory updates and demonstrates the company’s commitment to complying with local tax laws.

The announcement has garnered mixed reactions from the Nigerian cryptocurrency community. Some users express concern over the added cost to their transactions, while others recognize it as a necessary step towards greater regulatory compliance and legitimacy for cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria.

KuCoin encourages affected users to seek assistance through their Telegram group or by contacting the online support team for further guidance on the new tax regulations.

As Nigeria continues to evolve its regulatory framework for digital assets, this development underscores the importance for traders to stay informed about local laws and their potential impacts on trading activities.

The KuCoin team expressed their gratitude for users’ cooperation and understanding, reiterating their commitment to providing a secure and compliant trading environment.

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Bitcoin Eyes Gains with Seasonal July Boost After Slump

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After several months of declines and rangebound trading, Bitcoin (BTC) bulls have reason to cheer as the largest cryptocurrency is poised for a potential seasonal upswing this July.

Historical data and recent market movements suggest a positive outlook for Bitcoin, following a period marked by billions in sales, upcoming selling pressure, and outflows from exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Since April, Bitcoin has been trading within a narrow band of $59,000 to $74,000, weighed down by market dynamics and peak negative sentiment among retail traders.

However, July has historically been a bullish month for Bitcoin, and early indicators show a possible reversal of recent trends.

On the first day of July, U.S.-listed ETFs recorded nearly $130 million in inflows, their highest since early June.

This influx comes after a significant $900 million outflow in the previous month, signaling renewed investor confidence in the cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin has a median return of 9.6% in July and tends to bounce back strongly, especially after a negative June,” said Singapore-based QCP Capital in a recent Telegram broadcast.

“Our options desk saw flows positioning for an upside move last Friday into the month-end, possibly in anticipation of the ETH spot ETF launch. Many signs point to a bullish July.”

Historical data supports this optimistic outlook. Over the past decade, Bitcoin has gained an average of more than 11% in July, with positive returns in seven out of the ten months.

A 2023 report by crypto fund Matrixport highlighted significant July returns in recent years, with gains of around 27% in 2019, 20% in 2020, and 24% in 2021.

Seasonality, the tendency of assets to experience regular and predictable changes that recur annually, appears to be a driving factor.

These seasonal cycles can be influenced by various factors, such as profit-taking around tax season in April and May, leading to drawdowns, and the generally bullish “Santa Claus” rally in December, which reflects increased demand.

As the cryptocurrency market enters July, Bitcoin traders and investors are optimistic about a potential rally. While the market remains cautious of underlying pressures, the historical trends and recent inflows suggest a favorable environment for Bitcoin’s resurgence.

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