The appointment of Richard Teng to monitor Binance’s regional markets outside the US has positioned the one-time Abu Dhabi regulator as the most likely successor to Changpeng Zhao, who founded the world’s largest crypto exchange in 2017.
The enhanced role follows a report last month that Zhao, commonly known as CZ, is looking to reduce his ownership of Binance.US, the firm’s US arm – a move seen as something of a satisfaction to US regulators.
Teng̵[ads1]7;s knowledge and experience as a regulator will come in handy in his new role overseeing Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa as the exchange, often targeted by authorities, tries to draw a line under increasing enforcement actions related to behavior during crypto’s early days . year. Before heading the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), he was the CEO of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and spent 13 years at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
In an interview, Teng gets around the idea that he is being groomed to take the reins from the 46-year-old CEO.
“To speculate on such things would be premature,” Teng, 52, told CoinDesk. “Let me just emphasize that we have a very strong management team in place and many strong managers looking after different parts of the business. I’m just happy to be a part of it and try to support the company’s agenda and ambitions.”
His new role, he pointed out, isn’t even a promotion, “just expanded responsibility to help [CZ] look at certain things.”
But it’s worth remembering that CZ himself said the firm had a succession plan in place when he hired Teng back in August 2021. Teng first joined Binance as managing director of its Singapore operations, rising quickly through the ranks during a turbulent period in the digital assets sector.
A former Binance employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told CoinDesk via direct message: “Both senior management and regulators have discussed behind closed doors that Richard Teng is the only leader who can step into CZ’s shoes and both continue to build the company in his vision while helping to bridge the existing gap between industry and regulators.”
Teng believes Binance is “open and honest about things in the past,” pointing out that the firm is still very young. Binance, which will soon celebrate its sixth birthday, started as a technology company, Teng said, at a time when most jurisdictions had no regulations or proper guidance. Today, it has around 750 compliance officers, more than any other exchange, he added.
“If you look at the last 18 to 24 months, the company has swung very strongly in terms of the direction of travel on compliance,” Teng said. “But we recognize that there are past issues. We want to resolve all these policy issues responsibly with the respective parties and move forward to demonstrate that we are a new organization.”
Meanwhile, crypto continues to evolve, both in its technological evolution and in terms of tectonic shifts at a jurisdictional level. In the global context, it can be argued that a crackdown by US regulators will see crypto hubs sprout and flourish elsewhere.
The ambition to set up a dedicated crypto regulatory agency has been demonstrated in Dubai, for example, Teng said. Europe is also moving forward with its Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulatory framework, strengthening France’s strategy of trying to attract crypto companies.
“If you look at what Paris is doing, it is very beneficial for businesses. Not only not ourselves, a number of crypto players are trying to use Paris as their base for expansion in Europe,” Teng said.
He also said that Binance is “thrilled” that Hong Kong is opening up to crypto trading and offering licenses to firms. When asked if Binance is in the process of setting up shop in the territory, he said: “That’s an announcement we’ll make when the time comes.”
DIRECTION (June 5, 10:58 UTC): Corrects the spelling of Zhao in the first, second paragraph.