The chief executive of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, now ranks among the world’s richest billionaires.
Changpeng Zhao, known in the crypto space simply as ‘CZ,’ this week made it onto Bloomberg’s billionaire index and now ranks as the 12th richest person in the world.
According to Bloomberg estimates Zhao has a net worth of $94.1bn – trailing the world’s richest man Elon Musk, who is worth over $300bn, but hot on the heels of entrepreneurs Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg who are both worth close to $120bn. The calculations are based solely on Binance trade volumes and do not take account of Zhao’s personal holdings in Bitcoin or Binance Coin which are believed to be extensive.
Zhao took to Twitter to post a veiled comment about his appearance on the list. “Don’t worry about rankings. Focus on how many people you can help,” said Zhao, who has previously stated his intention to give away his wealth before he dies.
The Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur has charted an unlikely ascent. Having previously worked as a burger flipper in McDonald’s and a software engineer Zhao struck gold when he took the plunge into the crypto space and invested ten per cent of his net worth in Bitcoin on the advice of friends.
In 2017 he founded crypto exchange Binance which has become the world’s most popular trading platform for digital assets. Spot trade volumes on Binance exceeded $18bn over the past 24 hours according to data from Coinmarketcap, but the exchange recently completed $170bn of transactions on a single day.
Zhao was not the only billionaire to appear on the list who has benefitted from crypto’s meteoric rise. The 29-year-old founder of crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried is amongst the world’s richest 130 people with an estimated net worth of $15.6bn.
Amid the hype around crypto last year Binance has come under increased scrutiny for operating in multiple countries without proper permissions. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning about the exchange on its website last June and multiple banks have cut ties with the firm.
Binance has said it intends to play ball with regulators and is in the process of setting up a global headquarters in order to clarify its legal status.