Created: Jun 30, 2021 08:00 AM
Island link: David Burt, left, signed a memorandum of understanding with Changpeng Zhao, chief executive officer of Binance, in 2018 (File photograph)
A fintech company that once proposed creating 40 jobs in Bermuda and investing millions of dollars, is the subject of a consumer warning issued by a financial regulator in Britain.
The Financial Conduct Authority said no entity in the Binance Group holds any authorisation, registration or licence to conduct regulated activity in the UK.
It warned consumers to be wary of “adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptoasset or cryptoasset-related products”.
Binance promotes itself as the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange and alt-coin crypto exchange, in terms of trading volume.
Japan’s financial regulator also issued a warning notice to Binance Holdings Ltd last week.
It has been reported that market regulators in several jurisdictions have this year taken steps to limit speculation in cryptocurrency trading. Scrutiny of cryptoasset firms has also intensified.
David Burt, the Premier, and Binance chief executive officer Changpeng Zhao, signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2018, in which it was proposed Binance would develop its global compliance base on the island, creating at least 40 jobs.
It was also proposed that Binance would sponsor up to $10 million of university-level training for Bermudians in blockchain technology.
The Royal Gazette this week asked Mr Burt if the Government was still expecting those proposals to happen, and if it was still in talks with Binance. We also asked if the Government believed the pushback against crypto-related firms by a number of regulators around the world would be a hurdle to the development of fintech and crypto-related enterprises in Bermuda.
Mr Burt has sought to diversify Bermuda’s economy by establishing the island in the digital asset and fintech space. He remains bullish about the potential.
He said: “Just last week Circle International announced a high yield product out of Bermuda, which will be launched next month. I’m looking forward to welcoming the leadership of Circle to Bermuda in July as they scale up their operations on Island.“
In 2019, Circle was the first company to achieve a full licence under Bermuda’s Digital Asset Business Act. This month it launched Circle Yield, which it described as “a well-regulated alternative yield market for institutional investors and corporate treasurers domiciled in the US and Switzerland”.
Mr Burt said: “This is on the heels of the continued expansion of existing licensed entities in Bermuda, including StableHouse and Bittrex, who continue to expand and create jobs in Bermuda.
“We continue to attract companies to Bermuda that wish to be under the regulatory umbrella of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Though Binance is not currently one of those companies, there is no telling what the future will hold.”
Binance is currently headquartered in Cayman Islands, having previously been based in Malta. A company called Binance (Bermuda) Ltd is registered in Bermuda.
Binance is among more than 60 crypto-related firms that have abandoned attempts to register with Britain’s financial regulator this year, according to a report by Reuters. The report quoted a Binance spokesperson who said it worked closely with regulators and law enforcement “to further the security and sustainability in the industry while providing the best services and protection to our users”.
As for Bermuda, Mr Burt said the island is in the early stages of establishing itself in the fintech sector.
He said: “Three years ago, there were no fintech companies in Bermuda; today, we have ten licensed entities who have created dozens of jobs and have invested in Bermuda. We are just getting started, and I am thrilled that Bermuda’s Digital Asset ecosystem continues to expand and feel vindicated that despite the attacks – we have persevered, and this Government’s vision is now bearing fruit for the people of Bermuda.”