Changpeng Zhao, 44, has spent his life trying to overcome borders. As a child growing up in China, he waited for years until his family could win permission to see his father in Canada, then pursued a career (including a few years at Bloomberg LP) that took him around the world. Now, as chief executive officer of Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, he’s trying to get more people to use a global form of money and says his company—which booked more than $800 million in revenue last year—doesn’t need a headquarters. Zhao spoke to Bloomberg Markets in early March from Shanghai about his career and the growth prospects of crypto and his company. He also responded to critics who question Binance’s regulatory compliance. His comments were edited for length and clarity.
(After the interview, Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating whether Binance violated the CFTC’s rules by allowing U.S. residents to place wagers on derivatives. Binance hasn’t been accused of misconduct, and the investigation may not lead to an enforcement action. Zhao wouldn’t comment beyond saying that Binance works with regulators and takes its compliance obligations “very seriously.”)