17.01.2021

Binance to Open Beijing Office Amid China’s Renewed Blockchain Push

Relations between Binance leadership and Chinese authorities appear to have warmed recently, with the exchange publishing a report on China’s plans for a digital fiat currency over the summer and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao stating this week on Twitter that he believes the Chinese central bank is having a positive impact on the crypto industry. This comes just one year after China’s censorship firewall blocked access to the Binance website.

Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance is opening an office in Beijing, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CoinDesk. The new outpost will join Binance’s current mainland China office in Shanghai.

It’s not clear what exactly the office will do or when it will open, but the move follows a slew of announcements from Chinese authorities, including President Xi Jinping outlining China’s new blockchain ambitions.

These days, Binance executives have publicly stated the exchange is working with multiple governments on an upcoming stablecoin project called Venus. Binance co-founder and chief marketing officer Yi He told Bloomberg that Binance will help governments “fully supervise” the cryptocurrency industry through such projects to ensure “stable, sustainable development.”

Although Zhao grew up in Canada, he was born in China and worked at the China-based exchange OkCoin before founding his own empire. Binance made its first investment in a Chinese crypto company, Mars Finance, last September. Many of the exchange’s earlier investors hail from the Chinese tech industry, including Black Hole Capital and Funcity Capital.

Zhao added via Twitter on Tuesday that Binance currently sees a “few million dollars a day” worth of volume from Chinese users, especially via the peer-to-peer functionality that became available in China earlier this month. However, an increased focus on serving Chinese users doesn’t inherently mean the company is working with authorities on products or services beyond the Venus stablecoin project and compliance efforts.

“I don’t have anything that’s not public,” Zhao said in the Twitter video, referring to Chinese government strategies, adding:

“All of my readings are from public sources.”

CoinDesk reached out to Binance for comment and will update the article if we hear back.

Bithumb Wants User-Created DEXs With Its New Blockchain Ecosystem

South Korean crypto startup Bithumb is launching an “exchange-as-a-service” platform based on its new blockchain.

Announced Wednesday, the exchange said Bithumb Chain will allow users and developers to build decentralized finance (DeFi) applications on the open source blockchain network, which it hopes will act as the backbone to a new financial ecosystem.

The company is currently building out the network, with a testnet set to go live before the end of the year and a mainnet launch anticipated sometime next quarter.

Javier Sim, co-founder and managing director of Bithumb Global, told CoinDesk that the new blockchain will feature a “revolutionary consensus model,” referring to what the press release described as an OBFT hybrid consensus mechanism. However, he declined to share further details.

Bithumb representatives further told CoinDesk that the company is pursuing a patent around the mechanism, though the plan is to fully open-source the code prior to 2020. They did say that the consensus algorithm would utilize “verifiable random function,” likening it to Algorand’s protocol, and Byzantine Fault Tolerance.

VRF is a system where a function verifies its own output publicly, while BFT refers to the Byzantine generals’ problem, in which one must reach consensus among disparate actors operating in a trustless environment. BFT ensures that the system will continue working – even if some of the actors are working against it.

With Bithumb Chain, the company seeks to capitalize on their as-of-yet-unknown protocols with a variety of services, including exchange-as-a-service, which would allow users to set up their own decentralized exchange.

Bithumb Chain could compete with other crypto exchanges’ custom chains, Sim said. Binance Chain, Binance’s own public blockchain, launched in April 2019, and is now home to its BNB token and Binance DEX, a decentralized exchange.

Bithumb’s news comes days after The Korea Times reported that entertainment group IOK is moving to acquire a major stake in the exchange. IOK is looking to convert a bond in Bithumb’s largest shareholder, Vidante, by next year.

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