Binance’s CZ falls, Grayscale and BlackRock meet with SEC, and more


Imagine building a company from a $15 million initial coin offering to an impressive $60 billion empire. That’s exactly what Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has done with Binance since he founded the crypto exchange in 2017 before resigning on Nov. 21 as part of a settlement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). 

However, CZ wasn’t just the brain behind Binance — he might be the most important player in the whole crypto game. As such, his downfall represents more than just a personal setback; it’s another blow to the cryptocurrency industry’s global image and credibility.

The U.S. also targeted Kraken in this week’s crypto crackdown. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued the exchange, alleging it commingled customer funds and failed to register as a securities exchange, broker, dealer and clearing agency. The same accusations were brought against Coinbase and Binance in June.

The recent blow came despite Kraken reaching a $30 million settlement with the regulator in February, which apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy the regulator. The recent rollercoaster reveals one thing about the crypto industry: it is undergoing a period of change.

This week’s Crypto Biz also reviews the Grayscale and BlackRock meetings with the SEC, Circle’s new bridge standard, Bittrex Global’s shutdown and CoinGecko’s newest acquisition.

Grayscale, BlackRock met with SEC to discuss spot Bitcoin ETF details

The SEC sat down with two more investment managers to discuss their applications for a spot Bitcoin  (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF). Grayscale met with SEC officials on Nov. 20 regarding a rule change to list the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, in addition to an agreement with BNY Mellon to act as a transfer agency and service provider. BlackRock’s representatives met with the SEC on the same day, detailing how the firm could use an in-kind or in-cash redemption model for its iShares Bitcoin Trust. In October, the SEC also met with representatives from Hashdex, another company seeking approval to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF.

Circle launches “bridged USDC standard” for deploying to new networks

Circle has introduced a new standard to streamline the process of launching its USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin on new networks. The new “bridged USDC standard” allows developers to launch the token through a two-phase process, enabling the launch of an unofficial bridged version of USDC that can later become native and official. According to the company, the standard is expected to eliminate the need for “migrations,” where users must swap an unofficial version of USDC for an official version after it becomes available. If developers use the new standard, migrations should become unnecessary, as it allows the unofficial tokens already held in a user’s wallet to become official.

Bittrex Global announces all trading will be disabled as it winds down operations

Crypto exchange Bittrex Global has announced plans to wind down operations, starting with the suspension of trading activity on Dec. 4. The exchange urged users with U.S. dollar holdings to convert their funds to euros or cryptocurrency before Dec. 4 or risk being unable to withdraw the assets. The announcement came roughly nine months after its U.S.-based arm, Bittrex, said it planned to wind down operations in the country starting on April 30 “due to continued regulatory uncertainty.” Bittrex filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. bankruptcy court in May and settled its case with the SEC for $24 million in penalties and interest in August.

CoinGecko acquires NFT startup Zash

Crypto analytics firm CoinGecko is scaling its data offering by acquiring the nonfungible token (NFT) data infrastructure platform Zash. According to an announcement on Nov. 21, CoinGecko plans to integrate Zash’s NFT data into its application programming interface by the second quarter of 2024. Users of CoinGecko’s web and mobile app will be able to access unified crypto data offerings, said the company. The deal terms have not been disclosed. Founded in 2021, Zash allows users to track NFT data across 102 marketplaces.

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