Recall when Zhao, or "CZ" as he is known within the crypto world, announced via Twitter that Binance would acquire FTX. That was when the initial cracks appeared in FTX appeared — just a few days after signaling his company’s intention to offload its entire FTT token holdings.
If this seems suspicious, then Zhao’s complete u-turn should have soundeda an alarm. Binance subsequently scrapped the FTX deal and — what was once the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume — went bankrupt.
Sketchy dealings between FTX and its sister firm, Alameda Research (using customer assets to make risky trades without approval) sent shockwaves throughout the crypto world.
The episode laid bare the fact that centralized exchanges, despite how they portray themselves to the crypto community, can exert complete control over their users’ crypto assets even while their own operations remain shrouded in mystery.
FTX’s lightning-fast collapse threatens to topple well-established crypto firms, and investor trust is now eroding at an alarming pace within the crypto ecosystem.
What About The Other Poster Boy Of The Crypto World?
It is important to address the state of Binance’s own financial condition.
When the U.S. Department of Justice was reportedly preparing to file charges against Binance, citing unlicensed money transmission and conspiring to launder money. The firm disputed the report and claims to have implemented anti-money laundering (AML) controls in 2021.
The investigation stems from Zhao’s actions dating back to 2018, or perhaps earlier. Binance had failed to register with the Department of Treasury, despite its own claims that nearly one-third of its user base at the time of its launch was based in the U.S.
Why Binance Could Buckle Under Liquidity Pressures
Apart from Zhao and his team’s varied responses on how they have built the strongest firm in the crypto industry, there is nothing to prove that all is well at Binance.
Centralized exchanges like FTX and Binance concentrate immense power and control in the hands of their founders. While it can be said that Bankman-Fried's negligence brought about FTX’s bankruptcy, it remains to be seen whether there is enough evidence to suggest that Zhao could be thwarting attempts to uncover wrongdoing on his part.
Any loss of trust in Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volumes, could unleash a wave of selling pressure that could push it into bankruptcy and decimate the crypto market.
While it may seem far-fetched that Binance could succumb to financial irregularities, it is important to remember how Bankman-Fried maintained an aura of calm while he went about lobbying with U.S. lawmakers for more relaxed guidelines.