“Crypto Titans” is a series of personal interviews conducted by CoinMarketCap with prominent and forward-thinking minds, tinkering on and behind the scenes of the cryptocurrency landscape. Click here to see all the Crypto Titan interviews up to today!
This interview is the second in the series, featuring Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance. CZ launched Binance in July 2017 following a $15 million ICO, and the exchange has since been consistently one of the top exchanges globally. CZ himself is a well-known public figure in crypto, with a February 2018 Forbes cover, wearing a black hoodie with the hood raised, like a regular guy who looks nothing like someone worth $1.4 billion.
What got you first interested in cryptocurrencies?
I first learned about Bitcoin from a friend in 2013, and I was fascinated by it.
Right after that I did two things:
a. Sold my apartment to buy Bitcoin (and it soon dropped from $600 to $200);
b. Quit my job then and switched my career to the crypto industry.
That sounds crazy to many people. But I believe in crypto’s trustless, transparent and decentralized nature and its impact on the entire economic system.
How has a failure in crypto set you up for better decision-making? Do you have a favorite failure?
There were many challenges along the way. The above mentioned price drop was mentally challenging.
I always believed in the future of crypto, but at the back of your head, you have to sometimes wonder, what if I am wrong and Bitcoin goes to zero? After going through the cycle once, you learn to adopt a longer view.
So today, I rarely worry about short-term price fluctuations. I just focus on building for the long-term.
In the last year or so, has your philosophy or belief about crypto changed?
I am bullish on crypto and always believe crypto will bring more financial freedom to people. This has not changed at all. If anything, I am more confident about it than ever before.
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to enter the world of crypto — be it an investment or a new job? What advice should they ignore?
My advice would be: do both.
For those who are looking to invest in crypto:
- Do your own research before you make any investment decisions — don’t simply follow others’ investment advice.
- Beware of the risks — crypto is a highly volatile asset class and it is common to bear greater investment losses.
For those who are seeking a career in crypto:
- Compared with other industries, the crypto industry has more growth, disruption and uncertainty. So be ready for the challenges and risks.
- We welcome more passionate and dedicated talents to join Binance. If you think you are a good fit, please check the open positions at https://www.binance.com/en/career.
Do you think the industry at large should embrace regulation, or champion freedom and deregulation?
Regulation is becoming a part of the industry and will eventually play a fundamental role in fostering innovation and healthy industry growth in the long run. In 2019, we have seen more regulators researching digital assets and building relevant regulatory framework.
To me, regulation doesn’t necessarily stand at the opposite side of freedom, and should allow for higher degrees of freedom. Some people may neglect that regulation is also a key driver of mass crypto adoption.
We need to understand that regulation is not just one thing though. It’s not that regulations are good or bad. There are good regulations that protect users and foster innovation. There are also bad regulations that don’t protect anyone and limit freedom. We obviously want to help regulators establish more good regulations and less the bad ones. The devil is in the details. It’s not a blanket “like” or “don’t like.”
Overall though, I do think some rules are required at this time.
I believe our species is not quite advanced enough to live in a completely no-rule society just yet.
With better education, I do think we can become more advanced over time and rely less on regulations.
What is your vision for what the crypto industry could become in the future?
At Binance, we hold the mission of “increasing the freedom of money,” that is to say, everyone on this planet can freely choose and use money (in whether crypto or fiat) for payment, transaction or investment.
Debunk a common myth in crypto.
Sure, I got one.
Myth: “don’t spend crypto, hold it for value gains.” Cuz if you spend it, and the value goes up, you lose the gains.
Debunk: This is a typical “bucket of money” thinking fallacy. People put their money into different buckets and are inflexible to move them around.
All you have to do is to buy more crypto with the fiat that you otherwise would have spent, then your crypto balance stays the same. In practice, just convert a bit more of your spending money into crypto and spend it from there.
The more we transact in crypto, the better it is for the overall ecosystem, and hence for the rest of your crypto holdings.
This interview has been edited and condensed.