Binance's Bitcoin Reserves Are Overcollateralized, New Report Says

Mazars performed a proof-of-reserves and proof-of-liabilities assessment on the centralized exchange.

AccessTimeIconDec 7, 2022 at 2:38 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:04 a.m. UTC
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Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, released a new report on Wednesday from global financial audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars showing that Binance's customer bitcoin (BTC) reserves are overcollateralized.

"At the time of assessment, Mazars observed Binance controlled in-scope assets in excess of 100% of their total platform liabilities," Mazars said in an announcement. The exact percentage was 101%.

The collapse of centralized crypto exchange FTX because of liquidity issues has rivals rushing to improve the transparency of their financial reserves. The report from Mazars was meant to assure customers that their bitcoin is collateralized, exist on the blockchain and is in Binance’s control.

However, the assessment is not an official audit, according to Francine McKenna, lecturer in financial accounting at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "They did a comparison of balances per public key address from a list they got from management. They did not compare any balances in independent banks or custodians or depositories," said McKenna.

"This is more worthless than even the Tether or USDC report," she added. In September, Friedman LLP, a New York-based accounting firm that provided auditing services for the stablecoin issuer Tether in 2017 was accused of “serial violations of the federal securities laws” and “improper professional conduct,” by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which fined the auditor $1 million. Tether hired BDO Italia to take over its regular attestation reports in August.

Mazars took a snapshot of Binance’s total reserves and liabilities on Nov. 22 to perform a collateralization analysis. Assets included were customers’ spot, options, margin, futures, funding, loan and earn accounts for BTC and wrapped bitcoin held on the Bitcoin, Ethereum, BNB Chain and Binance Smart Chain blockchains.

UPDATE (Nov. 7, 2022, 16:34 UTC): Updates throughout to clarify the assessment is not an official audit. Adds comments from Francine McKenna.

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