The first fiat pairings will soon hit the world’s largest crypto exchange with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao telling Bloomberg, the exchange will “soon allow customers to convert digital tokens into fiat currencies.” The move will be the result of months of planning, which has seen Binance shift jurisdictions several times to evade restrictive regulations. After brief stints in Japan and Hong Kong, the China-founded exchange transitioned to Malta, where it was finally able to open a bank account last week.
Lenient regulations on “the blockchain island” will enable the exchange to open a local subsidiary platform, as a representative told CoinTelegraph, that will allow the use of crypto-fiat trading pairs, initially in the form of Euro-Bitcoin.
While the last six months have seen a steep decline in cryptocurrency markets caps, Binance has been busily expanding, growing a user base of two million in January, into nine million by June. Fiat pairings are the next natural step, and Euro trading is just the beginning, according to Zhao, who gave no further details, but has spoken in previous interviews of plans to add fiat-crypto trading in other destinations. The company has strong ties with crypto-friendly jurisdictions around the world, and is said to be in talks with authorities and banks in Taiwan.
On the nearer horizon though, is Jersey, where Binance reportedly plans to open a crypto exchange office with a staff of around 100. Binance are said to have chosen the location for its “highly developed digital infrastructure, robust regulatory framework, and world class financial services sector.” The Jersey Financial Services Commission introduced “cryptocurrency sandbox” legislation in 2016, aimed at enabling businesses to experiment with virtual currencies “in a controlled and transparent manner.”
Just as significant perhaps, is the fact that the local economy is based on the pound (GBP), which could potentially provide a backdoor to Sterling pairings. U.S. citizens, however, might need to wait a little longer. CZ took to Twitter earlier this year to announce there were no immediate plans for USD pairings.
Competition for coinbase?
Although Binance might have captured the majority of the world’s cryptocurrency trading volume, they are beaten to the fiat post by Coinbase, who provide the preferred gateway for exchanging traditional currencies with crypto. Coinbase, who are more focused on long-term investment than Binance, are still the go-to fiat on ramp, especially for those new to the space. A simple user interface makes it easy for newcomers to purchase one of the bigger coins here, and then send it over to an exchange to buy altcoins.
By combining a fiat gateway with a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, Binance would not only make the process simpler, but also provide healthy competition for the likes of Coinbase, who have recently announced intentions to expand their offering by dealing in tokenized securities.
A liquidity boost
Increased altcoin pairings would also bring greater liquidity to the market, potentially diminishing the importance of Bitcoin as a bellwether for the market as a whole. Altcoin fans have long decried the coupling of bitcoin with their favourite cryptos, which means they remain subject to the price swings of their volatile progenitor.
A stable fiat gateway that provides immediate access to a range of altcoins, would make it unnecessary for buyers to first purchase one of the more popular coins—Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin—and thus make it more likely for altcoins to take on a value of their own reckoning.
Up until now, strict regulation has made this impossible - but the situation appears to be changing, as other exchanges like Bittrex have recently introduced fiat currency support.