Catch Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao at TechCrunch’s blockchain event on July 6

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance — the world’s largest crypto exchange — is the newest addition who will join us for TC Sessions: Blockchain, TechCrunch’s first event dedicated to blockchain technology, which takes place July 6 in Zug, Switzerland.

The event will bring together the startup/business world and blockchain community to explore the potential of the blockchain, where it is now, and much more. The location is Zug — the Swiss city know as “Crypto Valley” for its plethora of startups and forward-thinking governance — and our speak list already includes standout names such as Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, and Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf.

Tickets are available now priced at 495 Swiss Francs, or around $500 — just head here. Don’t miss it!

Zhao, known as CZ, started Binance in July 2017 and it has enjoyed a meteoric rise. The exchange processes over $3 billion in crypto trades per day, which makes it the world’s largest by some margin, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Binance’s own token (BNB) is currently trading at over $14 — that’s up from an initial ICO price of around $0.10 and it gives it a total market cap of $1.6 billion.

Even in real-world financial times, Binance is huge. The company recorded a profit of around $150 million during its most recent quarter of business despite being less than a year ago.

Zhao himself started out in the world of financial trading, creating a company called Fusion Systems which enabled high-frequency trades for brokers. He got into crypto when he joined wallet app Blockchain.info, before moving on to Chinese exchange OkCoin for a stint as CTO. Spotting an opportunity for a new exchange, he exited to start Binance last year, raising $15 million in July to kick the project off.

There’s been controversy — including rumors of high listing fees and a legal spat with VC firm Sequoia — but Binance is the top dog and it remains the exchange that every crypto firm aspires to list on.

It is also pushing out overseas beyond Hong Kong. Binance has explored the global potential of crypto by moving its exchange to Malta, a country keen to woo blockchain giants, and inking deals to hire large numbers of staff in Uganda, Togo and Bermuda. It looks like that is just scratching the service for what Binance has planned.

“I could retire now and I’d be ok for a few lifetimes, but we are doing something I think is very meaningful,” Zhao, who ranks third on Forbes’ crypto rich list with an estimated worth of $1.1-$2 billion, told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this year.

Blockchain is the most disruptive new development in the technology space today, and we’re excited to host our first show that is solely dedicated to the blockchain. The event takes place in the Swiss city of Zug — widely known as “Crypto Valley” due to its sizable number of crypto companies and a progressive approach to regulation — and it will bring together top figures from the blockchain space, developer community and business and startup worlds.

Prominent speakers confirmed for the July 6 event include:

  • Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum
  • Balaji Srinivasan, Coinbase CTO
  • Roham Gharegozlou, the founder of smash-hit blockchain game CryptoKitties
  • Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project
  • Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger
  • Jun Hasegawa, CEO and founder of Omise and OmiseGo
  • Mona El Isa, CEO and co-founder of Melonport
  • Colin Hanna, associate at Balderton Capital
  • Galia Benartzi, co-founder and head of Business Development at Bancor
  • Gert Sylvest, co-founder of Tradeshift and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers

You can get your hands on tickets now — they’re priced at 495 Swiss Francs, or around $500 — from the event website here.


If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please contact us via this link.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency from the creator of Signal, just raised $30M for private mobile payments

A new privacy-centric cryptocurrency project with some big names on board just raised a round worth noting. On Tuesday, the team at MobileCoin announced that Binance Labs, the major blockchain incubator associated with the Binance exchange, led a $30 million round denominated in bitcoin and ether for the new cryptocurrency. MobileCoin will enjoy “priority consideration” for being listed on Binance as part of the relationship.

New cryptocurrency projects are a dime (or less) a dozen, but the legitimacy of an established name can make all the difference. Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of end-to-end encryption messaging app Signal and Open Whisper Systems, is one such name. As Wired reported in December, Marlinspike began working with MobileCoin as a technical advisor in August of 2017.

Marlinspike is joined by Joshua Goldbard, a general partner at hedge fund Crypto Lotus and MobileCoin technologist, and Shane Glynn, legal counsel, to help the company navigate the choppy waters of cryptocurrency regulation. Glynn has served since 2010 as senior product counsel at Google, though it’s not clear if he is leaving his longtime role for the new project.

In the MobileCoin whitepaper, published in December, the project’s creators describe its mission:

…Most attempts at building a compelling crypto-currency user experience unfortunately resort to trusting a third party service to manage keys and validate transactions. This largely sacrifices the primary benefits offered by crypto-currency to begin with.

MobileCoin is an effort to develop a fast, private, and easy-to-use cryptocurrency that can be deployed in resource constrained environments to users who aren’t equipped to reliably maintain secret keys over a long period of time, all without giving up control of funds to a payment processing service.

MobileCoin is being built on the Stellar blockchain, a popular ethereum alternative that some projects are flocking to for its scalability and speed, and will emphasize user privacy and integration into mobile messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Signal — two apps that use Marlinspike’s end-to-end encrypted Signal Protocol.

“MobileCoin is designed so that a mobile messaging application like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Signal could integrate with a MobileCoin wallet,” the team described in its whitepaper.

Marlinspike is a rare sort of reverse tech celebrity, a figure who eschews both spotlight and Silicon Valley-style excess and has instead cultivated quiet respect in digital privacy and cryptography circles. That makes him an odd fit for the fraud-laden universe of empty multi-million-dollar ICOs with no product to speak of, but it also means that MobileCoin is probably worth paying attention to. At the very least, the prominent cryptographer’s new project should amuse anyone who’s complained about the digital currency world’s habit of using the term “crypto” as shorthand for “cryptocurrency.”

MobileCoin has funding and talent, but it’s still very early days for the nascent cryptocurrency. As an incubator, Binance Labs concentrates on pre-ICO projects and MobileCoin will use the funding to “build out [its] team and processes” as it develops its product.

“A mobile-first, user-friendly cryptocurrency, like MobileCoin, plays a critical role in driving mainstream cryptocurrency adoption,” Binance Labs said of the funding. “The MobileCoin team and Binance Labs share a common vision and we are proud to be a supporter of what they are doing.”

Along with the news, MobileCoin announced that it is recruiting a “core team” of engineers:

“Specifically, we are looking for those who have worked on large systems (greater than 10,000,000 daily active users) in a senior role who enjoy working on low-level code. Direct memory access is a critical part of our problem set.”

Given the legitimacy of Marlinspike’s best-known project and his reticence to attach his name to things, it’s not unreasonable to give MobileCoin the benefit of the doubt, even if aspects of its raison d’être remain unarticulated. Beyond the core question of why a new cryptocurrency needs to exist at all, MobileCoin will need to position itself as a compelling alternative to existing mainstream mobile payment services like Venmo and PayPal for normal users.

MobileCoin will also face the full slate of regulatory challenges, including fraud prevention, that plague other digital currency projects, though given its stealthy behavior and the fact that one-third of the three-member team listed on its website represents legal counsel, its founders are don’t appear to be charging in recklessly.

“This is a journey and we are excited to build a simple system for trusted payments,” Goldbard wrote in the announcement.

In the digital currency realm, too much style — think celeb-endorsed ICOs and endless press release hype cycles — can signal a lack of substance. The reverse can be true too, and in MobileCoin’s case, a modest mission could be a strong signal for a compelling product a bit further down the blockchain.

Bitcoin price drops 10% as hackers exploit Binance’s API keys

 Welcome to another rollercoaster day for the cryptocurrency community. In just a few minutes, bitcoin price crashed from $10,740 to $9,690, which represents a 10.8 percent crash.
As always, it’s a bit hard to know for sure what’s happening. But one company in particular is having a bad day. Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has spotted some unusual activities and halted… Read More