First Mover Asia: Is Binance Becoming Too Dominant?

Binance pushes through around 53% of all crypto trades on spot and derivatives markets by trade count, and around 30% of the market’s value; Bitcoin remained comfortably above $19,000 in Monday trading.

AccessTimeIconOct 25, 2022 at 12:19 a.m. UTC
Updated Nov 14, 2022 at 6:06 p.m. UTC

James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin continued its weeks-long stay above $19K; most other major cryptos were slightly in the red.

Insights: Has Binance grown too big and powerful?

Catch the latest episodes of CoinDesk TV for insightful interviews with crypto industry leaders and analysis. And sign up for First Mover, our daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context.

Prices

CoinDesk Market Index (CMI)
945.47
1.2

Bitcoin (BTC)
$19,335
1.2

Ethereum (ETH)
$1,344
1.4

S&P 500 daily close
3,797.34
1.2

Gold
$1,656 per troy ounce
0.3

Treasury Yield 10 Years
4.23 daily close
0.02

Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at coindesk.com/indices.

Bitcoin Holds Over $19K – Yet Again

By James Rubin

The economic future had a slightly rosier hue, but not enough to stir bitcoin and other major cryptos from their weeks-long roosts.

Bitcoin was recently trading above $19,300, a few ticks down from where it stood 24 hours earlier and well above the $19,000 threshold that’s served as a bottom support since mid September. Ether was recently changing hands at about $1,350, also slightly down from Sunday, same time, although as Oanda Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya noted that Ethereum has “gained more buzz” as the supply of ether has decreased.

Other major altcoins were mixed earlier Monday but tinted red later in the day as investors continued their recent risk-averse postures. LUNA and ATOM each recently fell about 4%. The CoinDesk Market Index (CMI), a broad-based market index that measures the performance of a basket of cryptocurrencies, was down 1.1% over the past 24 hours.

Investors continue to eye U.S. Federal Reserve efforts to tame inflation. They sent stocks higher for a second consecutive day, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 climbed 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively, and the Nasdaq increased 0.8%.

The earnings season continues with Apple and Google parent Alphabet among the major tech companies scheduled to report. And on Tuesday the Conference Board will release October's consumer confidence index – showing a likely decline.

In an interview with CoinDesk, GSR Markets Global Head of Product Benoit Bosc said that any lessening of the current dose of steep interest rate hikes would spur a “knee-jerk reaction.” “It will be a sharp move higher for risk assets,” Bosc said.

Biggest Gainers

There are no gainers in CoinDesk 20 today.

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Terra LUNA −4.1% Smart Contract Platform
Cosmos ATOM −4.0% Smart Contract Platform
Solana SOL −3.8% Smart Contract Platform

Insights

Is Binance Becoming Too Dominant?

By Sam Reynolds

While FTX and Coinbase might have the mindshare, Binance’s $44 billion in daily volume is unchallenged by any other crypto exchange.

Binance pushes through around 53% of all crypto trades on spot and derivatives markets by trade count, and around 30% of the market’s value.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Top Global Crypto Exchanges (Nomics)

And Binance is so much more than just an exchange. It has an eponymous blockchain for which it controls most of the validators, a stablecoin to which it gives preference on its exchange (though it might not be a bad thing), a major governance entity on the Uniswap DAO and is a lender of last resort to the beleaguered crypto mining industry.

Is Binance becoming too dominant?

Certainly other exchanges have products or mandates that go beyond their core business. FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, despite commanding a smaller percentage of the daily trading volume than Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, spreads his influence far and wide with industry bailouts as the industry this year needed its version of the original J.P. Morgan. (The results have been “mixed,” as SBF said on David Rubenstein's show.)

Libertarian DNA

The crypto industry has libertarian DNA flowing through its veins. This is not a bad thing. Crypto becoming a trillion-dollar asset class has put lethargic regulators on notice that they must examine and embrace new technology instead of dismissing it and wishing it away through regulation. And there are alternative regulators to those based in the U.S. that have the competency to give institutional investors comfort (see: FTX’s endorsement of the Bahamas’ licensing regime). The establishment needed challenging.

But at the same time, monopolies tend to form in certain industries where there are economies of scale, such as the trading business. The pace of crypto mergers and acquisitions is expected to accelerate in the bear market.

Libertarians would argue that the state breaking up companies is a failure to grasp the “creative destruction” of market dynamism. Naturally, the market corrects for monopolies. Microsoft, for instance, is nowhere near the dominant force it was during the antitrust case of the late 1990s.

Within the Web2 world, regulators haven’t been very keen on antitrust lawsuits because of allegations of monopolistic behavior. Suits by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the states alleging that Meta, then Facebook, engaged in monopolistic practices have been thrown out. As a result, there have been calls to revamp antitrust laws, but it will take years for Congress to get to this.

Will the same happen in crypto? Will there be a challenger to Binance?

When Binance announced that it was killing access to three stablecoins that compete with its own, Circle wasn’t too upset. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire tweeted that USDC would emerge a winner, as it would accelerate a shift away from USDT, which is a token-non-grata in the U.S.

“While optimizing dollar liquidity on the world’s largest exchange may carry benefits, the paradigm does raise potential market conduct questions,” Circle was quoted as saying.

So there are hints of antitrust ingredients, but because USDC, a competitor to BUSD, for now, remains a beneficiary, there’s not a case to be made – yet.

But what happens when Binance puts together all the separate entities it has and does something where all its competitors get unfairly locked out of a particular market?

At that point it might be relevant to revisit the question of whether Binance has become too dominant.

Important events.

CoinDesk TV

In case you missed it, here is the most recent episode of "First Mover" on CoinDesk TV:

It's the start of Trading Week at CoinDesk, and "First Mover" kicked off special markets coverage with one of the most followed technical traders in the crypto space, Peter Brandt, founder of Factor Trading. Plus, Galaxy Digital's Salmaan Qadir discussed a new report on the state of the NFT marketplace, where creators have earned $1.8 billion in royalties to date.

Headlines

MakerDAO Members Support Founder's 'Endgame' Plan to Break Up into MetaDAOs, $2.1B of Transfers: Community members will move ahead with founder Rune Christensen's ambitious plan to break up the protocol into MetaDAOs.

Robinhood's Crypto Customers Can Now Trade Aave and Tezos: The popular trading app now offers 19 crypto assets.

MakerDAO Community Approves Proposal to Place USDC in Coinbase's Custody Platform: Up to $1.6 billion in USD coin will be held with Coinbase Prime, where it will earn a 1.5% reward.

Court Refuses to Dismiss 'Insider-Trading' Case Against Former OpenSea Exec: Nate Chastain, who was head of product at the NFT marketplace, was indicted in June.

Ripple’s Director of Engineering Leaves Firm as XRP Turns 10: Nik Bougalis says he’s not joining another blockchain or Web3 company.

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James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

CoinDesk - Unknown

James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.