Binance.US, the American outpost of crypto exchange giant Binance, launched today, offering up seven cryptocurrencies to citizens in 37 states. This marks the exchange’s first official steps into the US, giving it access to a large crypto-focused market. Trading will begin tomorrow at 13:00 UTC.
“We believe we are just at the beginning of crypto adoption globally. There is room to grow for every organization in this space, and the industry will continue to get bigger in every country around the world,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao told Decrypt today.
Though Binance could always be accessed by Americans using a VPN, Binance was never technically allowed to operate in the US. This summer, Binance acquiesced to regulators’ demands and cracked down on those users, stopping them from accessing it. It then created Binance US—a regulatory-friendly subsidiary—which has just gone live.
But the exchange’s offering is somewhat limited, for now. While Binance lists almost 600 cryptocurrencies, Binance.US will have just seven digital assets are available at launch: Bitcoin, Binance Coin, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Tether. Not even BUSD, Binance's stablecoin approved by the NYDFS, will launch on the platform.
More, however, are on the way: Cardano, Brave’s Basic Attention Token, Ethereum Classic, Stellar, and 0x are open for deposits, and a bunch more open for consideration, including EOS, Dash, and Augur. But it’s unclear when they will be available for trading.
“Binance.US is tailor-made for Americans at every step of its development,” said Binance.US’ CEO, ex-Ripple executive Catherine Coley, in a press release. Yet the exchange isn’t even available in all American states. Thirteen are missing: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. “Support for additional jurisdictions and listings may be added at a later date,” Coley added.
Specifically, like many things in crypto, the exchange won’t be available to New York residents. This is because the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has different criteria for financial companies looking to operate in the state. While Binance has got approval for its US-dollar backed stablecoin to, it has yet to do so for its exchange.
But it’s still a step forward. As Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted back in June, “short term pains may be necessary for long term gains.” And if Binance shows it can operate in the US, it may seek approval in New York.
Zhao is optimistic. “Through this partnership, we believe Binance.US will open a new key gateway to America, and beyond, furthering the enthusiasm and tangible use cases for both blockchain and cryptocurrency,” he said, in a press release.
But, not everyone is convinced. Blockchain critic David Gerard wonders at Binance.US’ decision to list its own native Binance Coin (BNB) on the new exchange. “BNB was really obviously promoted as a security under the Howey Test,” he claimed, referring to the test for whether something counts as a security.
“I don't know if Binance Malta issuing it and Binance.US trading it will be sufficient legal insulation for them,” he added.
In response, Zhao argued that the separation between the two companies should help with its compliance. “In the US, where deep experience in interacting with local regulators is required, we are confident that licensing our technologies to Binance.US will allow compliant development. Our local partner Binance.US will help to navigate the unique regulatory landscape in the US, and at the same time work with the industry players there to help grow the overall market,” Zhao said, via Telegram.
But this clarity might be on the horizon. The SEC is due to meet with Congress tomorrow to discuss the issue of whether cryptocurrencies—including ones issued in ICOs—are securities. The world will be watching.