The exchange has launched Binance Research, which will focus on the creation of institutional-grade research reports to increase transparency and improve the quality of information available within the crypto space. Photo: iStock
Binance acquired its Indian competitor WazirX in November 2019. Image: iStock

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, is setting up a crypto-to-fiat trading platform in Singapore. The news became public after its enigmatic CEO Changpeng Zhao issued a tweet saying that his company “will begin #Binance Singapore fiat exchange live money closed beta testing on Sept 18th… Invitation only first. Exciting!”

Binance, which often claims daily trading volumes in excess of $1 billion, has become something of a nomad in recent months. Founded just 14 months ago by the 41-year-old Chinese-born but Canadian-educated Zhao – or “CZ” as he prefers to be known – Binance started life in Shanghai and has since moved to Tokyo then Hong Kong and is now officially based on the island of Malta. The Mediterranean island has become known for its liberal approach to digital currencies and as an offshore base for online gaming businesses.

After the Singapore announcement, Binance also released ambitious plans to expand across Africa. A blog post last week from Benjamin Rameau, Binance Labs Director, said that while “the consensus view holds that the 21st century belongs to Asia… we believe that it will be Africa’s turn to surprise. Investing today in Africa could be the best trade of the century.”

He added that “decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will be powered by tokens and will not need to rely on banks. As long as there is demand for their services, DAOs instantly scale across borders. Binance Labs itself is a kind of decentralized organization and we think globally, not locally. In a similar vein, Africa’s geography will no longer be an impediment to economic progress.”

While observers will have to wait and see if Binance makes good on its grand African vision, crypto interest remains pretty firmly focused on Asia and especially Singapore, with the city recently ranking third in a list of most favorable jurisdictions for ICOs globally.

The “most favourable” country in that list was the United States, but this may change in the near future as Washington continues to increase regulatory pressure on all crypto businesses.

A recent report by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office has referred three prominent crypto-currency exchanges, including Binance, to the New York Department of Financial Services for “possibly operating unlawfully in New York” after the exchanges had refused earlier requests from New York State for information.

Binance has not commented on the developments in New York, and instead continues unabated with its global expansion plans. In the same week as the New York Attorney General released its report, Binance, in its new hometown of Malta, reached an agreement with the Malta Stock Exchange (MSX) to establish a board for digital security token trading.

After the agreement was signed, Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that blockchain technology was “revolutionary” and was “clearly going to change the world.”

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