It pays its people in a digital token of its own devising. It’s based wherever its founder happens to be. A growing list of countries want no part of it. And Binance Holdings Ltd. might just be the biggest, craziest thing in the big, crazy realm of cryptocurrencies.
Welcome to the world of Changpeng Zhao, the elusive, flip-flop-wearing software developer everyone calls CZ — and the brains behind Binance. For now, it’s the largest cryptocurrency exchange on the planet, even though the U.K. just booted an affiliate and Thailand filed a criminal complaint against the firm for operating without a license.
Founded in China, banished to Japan and later self-exiled to Malta, Binance today is officially domiciled in the Cayman Islands and, unofficially, headquartered precisely nowhere. The platform lives on the internet and so far has seemed to elude regulators’ attempts to pinpoint exactly how it operates and where. At its heart is CZ, a crypto cult figure with about 3 million Twitter followers and a stated desire to minimize government oversight. Lately, he’s been living in Singapore.