The big emerging story in the cryptocurrency world this week is the Binance exchange’s decision to delist a top crypto asset following an ongoing online battle between the exchange’s owner and the man who founded the crypto asset.
Binance, which moved its headquarters out of Asia to Malta last year, is one of the globe’s leading crypto asset exchanges with – according to analytics website Coinmarketcap.com – a daily trade volume topping a billion dollars. Its charismatic chief executive, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, is a big personality in the industry who spends a lot of time on Twitter promoting the company and its ever expanding labyrinthian network of divisions, which includes blockchain startup incubators, research and development houses, and even a charity.
Twitter is the medium of choice for crypto professionals and aficionados and has also become a digital battleground for rival clans supporting different blockchain based crypto coins. And as is typical on Twitter, some are more outspoken than others.
Bitcoin Cash is the world’s fourth largest digital currency by market capitalization and currently stands at $5.5 billion. In November last year it split – or forked – to also create Bitcoin SV (BSV). This new chain was founded by Australian computer scientist Craig S. Wright, who has made numerous, oft ridiculed claims, that he is also Satoshi Nakamoto, founder and inventor of Bitcoin itself.
Wright’s claims have riled many over the years as have his threats of legal action against organizations and media outlets which refute the claims. An ongoing cyber spat between Wright and the Binance boss came to a head yesterday when Zhao made good on his threat to delist BSV from his exchange. Within a couple of hours the crypto coin had plummeted 25%, falling from over $70 down to $55.
Several other crypto industry leaders have joined the digital call to arms to boycott Bitcoin SV, with some following through. ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees also announced it would be delisted, as did Blockchain.com, while US exchange Kraken conducted a poll drawing almost 60,000 votes, with current results indicating over 70% in favor of dropping BSV.
Hong Kong-based rival exchange OKEx announced that they would not be dropping BSV because it did not meet the delisting criteria following “a rigorous review on BSV in terms of technology development, liquidity, and compliance.” Others, as yet, have remained undecided.
The decision has raised a huge decentralization debate. After all, the original premise of Bitcoin and many of its brethren is that of a peer to peer currency beyond the control of centralized companies, banks or governments. But Binance’s action this week, many say, have made it judge, jury and executioner.
Whether the decision made by Zhao was a considered move to rid the industry of a bad actor, or a corporate heavyweight flexing its muscles, is still in dispute. Tribalism within the embryonic crypto ecosystem is alive and kicking, with some of the participants occasionally losing track of who the real enemies are, in this ever growing “game of coins”.