Binance's CZ Is Looking for His Replacement as Exchange Gets Regulatory House in Order

“We are looking for someone with a strong regulatory background to step in and be CEO,” Changpeng Zhao said at a press conference Tuesday.

Jul 27, 2021 at 3:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:31 p.m. UTC

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is looking for someone with a strong regulatory background to become its new chief executive, replacing its charismatic leader Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ.”

“There is always a pool of candidates who could succeed me. We are looking for someone with a strong regulatory background to step in and be CEO,” Zhao said at a press conference Tuesday.

Zhao said there was no timeline for his succession and that he would not be stepping down right away. 

“I will always contribute to Binance and the BNB ecosystem. I don't have to be CEO to do that,” he said.

Binance has been lashed by a series of regulatory actions across a number of jurisdictions including the U.K. and Japan. On Tuesday, the company reduced its customer withdrawal limit from 2 bitcoins to 0.06 bitcoins.

Zhao made a point of clarifying that he would be “honored to run Binance as a regulated financial institution,” and that his move, when it comes, would be when a better leader emerges rather than some reaction to the ongoing regulatory clampdown. 

As part of the exchange’s plan to address the current regulatory scrutiny, Zhou said Binance is “pivoting from a tech startup to a financial institution,” which will involve opening headquarters, and creating a structure regulators can easily recognize. 

“We have a structure that's relatively hard to understand for regulators. For example, simple things like we don't have a headquarters,” he told reporters. “So we are now looking to establish multiple headquarters in regional headquarters in different parts of the world. We don't have specific locations for all of them yet.”

Zhao acknowledged Binance’s communications with regulators in the past “have not been the best,” adding that the plan now is to hire ex-regulators and “become licensed everywhere.”

Asked by CoinDesk if a reported U.S. probe into Binance had kicked off a coordinated swoop on the exchange across multiple jurisdictions, Zhao said he did not know.

“No one has told us this is a coordinated effort, so we don’t know,” he told CoinDesk.

UPDATE (July 27, 16:34 UTC): Adds information in the fifth paragraph about Binance's reduced withdrawal limit.

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