Crypto exchange Binance is reportedly set to acquire crypto data marketplace CoinMarketCap. The deal is estimated to be worth up to $400 million.
According to a report from The Block, Binance is in the final stages of making the deal happen, which will be announced later this week.
This will be Binance's fifth major acquisition, according to data from Crunchbase. It owns DappReview, a Beijing-based data analytics platform for decentralized applications, Indian crypto exchange WazirX, JEX, a crypto exchange for futures and derivatives trading, and Trust Wallet, a mobile cryptocurrency wallet. It has also invested in Mars Finance, a news agency based in China.
CoinMarketCap is one of the most popular sources of crypto data in the industry. Despite concerns that it features exchanges that are known for having high levels of wash trading, the site is visited by 37 million users a month, according to SimilarWeb.
But the anticipated deal poses tough questions for the neutrality of CoinMarketCap.
How will Binance's deal affect the crypto industry?
With Binance as one of the biggest crypto exchanges, and CoinMarketCap, the biggest data source for the crypto industry, the potential acquistion could make the industry more centralized.
Jonathan Leong, co-founder & CEO of BTSE exchange, told Decrypt, "If Binance controls the most well known third party tool used by users around the world, this is clearly a strong conflict of interest."
Other commentators were similarly worried. "Personally, I am always sceptical of any deal that can in any way affect the 'neutrality' of any reporting system where one party (even potentially) has an interest in that system as here, especially as I'm not even entirely clear what they stand to gain precisely," Jason Deane, analyst at Quantum Economics, told Decrypt, "Perhaps I need more information on the intricacies of this and what the objectives are, but my initial reaction would be caution and scepticism."
On Twitter, the response was also skeptical. "Who would ever trust CoinMarketCap after this, doesnt make sense. A stake from Binance might likely work better than an acquisition, just defeats the purpose of having a balanced and neutral index aggregator," wrote Eugene Ng, head of sales at Matrixport and former trader at Deutsche Bank.
Who would ever trust @CoinMarketCap after this, doesnt make sense. A stake from @binance might likely work better than an acquisition, just defeats the purpose of having a balanced and neutral index aggregator. https://t.co/TmqN7638OJ
— Eugene Ng 🌊 (@Eug_Ng) March 31, 2020
He wasn't alone. "I don't see this as a good thing either. Coinmarketcap is an independent listings website. Binance could skew data and ads on the platform towards their own token and IEO's," wrote Jeroen Hesp, business development manager at Citizen.
At the end of the day, the key issue is transparency. And for an exchange that appears to have no headquarters, this is twice as important.