Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, has been hit with a series of setbacks as regulatory scrutiny intensifies. Amidst these challenges, Richard Teng, a former civil servant-turned-crypto executive, has emerged as the frontrunner to assume the role of CEO if Changpeng “CZ” Zhao steps down. This article delves into the current state of affairs at Binance, highlighting the regulatory hurdles the exchange faces and exploring Teng’s background and potential appointment.
Binance’s Regulatory Woes Deepen
Binance, known for its dominance in the cryptocurrency trading market, has found itself entangled in multiple regulatory issues worldwide. US federal agencies are investigating the exchange, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed a lawsuit against Binance and CZ for alleged derivatives regulation violations and “sham” compliance. In addition, regulators in Canada, Australia, and even Dubai, where CZ resides, have turned their attention toward Binance’s operations.
The situation worsened when Binance’s Australian payments partner abruptly severed ties, preventing local customers from depositing Australian dollars via bank transfer. Consequently, Binance halted all trading pairs involving the Aussie dollar and suspended bank withdrawals in the local currency. Earlier, a UK banking partner had also withdrawn support for Binance’s transactions in British pounds. These developments have placed Binance in a precarious position, prompting concerns about its future.
Richard Teng’s Rise to Prominence
Richard Teng, a 52-year-old Singaporean with an impressive background in financial regulation, has been thrust into the spotlight as a potential successor to CZ. Teng’s previous roles at Singapore’s central bank and Abu Dhabi’s international free-trade zone make him an ideal candidate to navigate Binance through the regulatory storm it faces.
Teng joined Binance in August 2021 as the CEO of Singapore. Within less than two years, he demonstrated his capabilities and gained the trust of the company’s leadership. In May, CZ appointed him as the head of all regional markets outside the US, a move signaling Binance’s commitment to cooperating with regulators. Teng’s appointment is seen as a strategic choice to address the mounting regulatory challenges and restore trust in the exchange.
Binance’s Licensing Setbacks and Teng’s Role
One of Teng’s initial tasks at Binance was to help the exchange obtain a license in Singapore, a highly coveted approval for crypto businesses. However, the application ultimately failed due to Binance’s affiliate’s failure to meet criteria related to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing safeguards. Binance initially denied this claim, asserting that the withdrawal was based on strategic and commercial considerations.
Teng’s role in the licensing process, despite the setback, was highly regarded by CZ. Their acquaintance was facilitated by an employee at Singapore’s central bank, and Teng quickly made a positive impression on CZ. Although the Singapore license was not secured, Teng’s performance during the process cemented his reputation as a competent and capable executive.
As Binance faces increased regulatory scrutiny and a series of challenges, Richard Teng has emerged as a potential successor to CEO CZ. Teng’s background in financial regulation and his recent appointment as the head of regional markets outside the US highlight Binance’s commitment to addressing regulatory concerns. While Binance’s future remains uncertain, the appointment of Teng signifies a concerted effort by the exchange to work with regulators and regain trust in the cryptocurrency industry.