MOSCOW – Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, seemed to have no chance to make selfies, even though it was the second photo shoot of the evening.
The mogul of the cryptocurrency exchange, known as CZ, had already taken pictures with Russian fans before the start of the match. He was still smiling at the cameras and shaking his hands for half an hour after the end of the meeting.
This was CZ's first visit to Russia and the turnout showed its popularity with the local cryptographic scene. The concert hall of the Radisson Hotel in the center of Moscow could hardly accommodate the 700 or so people attending the event on 21 October.
The warm feelings were reciprocal.
"We are always looking for partners in all communities, especially Russia," CZ told CoinDesk before his address. "Russia is our key market, one of the most active markets in the blockchain world."
When asked on stage who would have the most influence on crypto in the near future, he mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin, arousing the laughter of the public. It was a blind reference to the indecision of Russian regulators.
"In America, regulators are widely spread and China will not move anytime soon," CZ told the crowd. "There is a potential bill in Russia that could be passed very soon and it will be good for the industry." (The bill in question is currently dormant in the Russian Parliament.)
Over the past year, Binance, one of the world's largest cryptography exchanges in Malta, has been aggressively expanding around the world.
He opened fiat-to-crypto exchanges in four countries: Uganda, Jersey, Singapore and the United States last month.
The stock market has also launched a ramp to the currency for the Nigerian currency, the niara (NGN), and recently announced that deposits in Russian rubles would arrive.
But this is just the beginning of Binance's plans for Russia, where CZ told CoinDesk he wanted to open an office.
"There is a very strong programmer talent (here)," he said. "On this trip, it is very clear to me that we should look at the developer's desk, not the sales office, not yet."
In addition, Binance seeks to bring its stabilization project, Venus, to Russia.
"We are also working with other stable stable securities issuers related to fiat currencies," said CZ. "In all countries, we are looking for partners, especially in Russia."
The Russian government announced that it was working on a national cryptocurrency, the so-called crypto ruble, in January 2018, but since then no update of the project has taken place.
Fiat on the ramp
Dealing with fiat is a tricky part of crypto trading in Russia because cryptocurrencies do not yet have legal status in the country, and crypto-related companies register as IT service providers, etc. .
Only a handful of small stock exchanges such as EXMO, Yobit, Livecoin and Kuna offer ruble deposits through partnerships with acquiring companies facilitating electronic payments and managing accounts in fiat.
Without naming names, CZ said Binance was in talks with banks and was acquiring services in Russia to provide a gateway for the ruble.
"We are basically doing what other exchanges are doing here in Russia," said CZ. "We're talking to the banks, but it's not official yet. Banks are at a very early stage. Payment services will probably come first. "
In fact, ruble deposits should already be operational, said CZ, but technical problems have delayed the launch of a few weeks. Binance is currently planning for early November.
At the same time, CZ was pleased with the performance of its new subsidiary, Binance US, which opened in September. Currently, the platform records a daily trading volume of about $ 14 million, according to the CoinMarketCap, CoinGecko and Cryptocompare market data websites.
Nevada's trust company, Prime Trust, is the liaison and banking relationship for Binance in the United States, CZ said. (Prime Trust is not insured by the FDIC, but has accounts with institutions that are.) He hopes that institutional investors will ultimately make the majority of transactions on the US platform.
However, the institutions are very interested in trading derivatives and this option is not available for US traders: a warning about this appears before any new user trying to register to Binance Futures.
Nevertheless, the futures platform gained momentum in its first few months, even surpassing Binance's bitcoin spot market on days. To make things even faster, the stock market added an unprecedented 125-fold leverage on futures contracts earlier this month.
This leverage, superior to what is available in other future bitcoin trading floors, raised eyebrows and sparked a sarcastic feeling. tweets suggesting that 125x is a perfect opportunity for traders to get "rekt". CZ states that Binance users are demanding unprecedented high leverage, which would differentiate trade from competitors.
"It's a bit of marketing, a public relations game too, but you also want to be a little innovative," he said. "We copy a lot of things from many people, but we also want to be a little different."
Image of CZ with the kind permission of Binance