Crypto-controversy mounts

Briefly: Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, halted its Bitcoin withdrawals twice on Sunday due to a “congestion issue”. The company’s actions spooked a crypto sector that’s been hit by a wave of bankruptcies and scandals in recent months.

Binance is a big deal in the trillion-dollar crypto space. In 2022, it:

  • controlled 92% of the world’s bitcoin spot trading volumes
  • hosted crypto trades worth around $65B a day, and
  • grew to 128 million users.

But the firm is also shrouded in secrecy. As a private company, Binance hasn’t shared basic financial info (eg, revenue) with external investors since 2018.

Intrigue’s take: This intriguing mix of money and secrecy has had regulators hovering around Binance like Canadians around a bowl of poutine. The firm is now in the crosshairs of at least four different US agencies (plus others abroad), including on allegations it allowed Russians to circumvent US sanctions.

Also worth noting:

  • Binance says it has a 700-member compliance team handling 1,300 law enforcement requests a week.
  • The surprise collapse of crypto exchange FTX last year caused the entire sector’s market valuation to fall below $1T.