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Here's a twist we didn't see coming: Binance has a sense of humour. It just doesn't know it.
Binance's reputation isn't exactly at an all-time high. Having been lumbered with a $4 billion fine whilst its founder and CEO pleaded guilty to criminal charges and consequently stepped down, Binance has found itself at the mercy of the market.
The latest chapter of this nail-biting saga sees Binance's PR and marketing department taking a rather interesting direction, to say the least.
In an announcement yesterday, Binance announced a campaign titled "Crypto is Better With Binance."
Yep, the exchange that just got fined $4.3 billion has released a campaign declaring crypto is better with them.
"No need to make crypto complicated"
The campaign introduces ten stories from its "users" on how crypto improved their lives, with the help of Binance.
One profile, Lauri, sees the user explaining how she "alternated her investments with Binance Earn" before stating awkwardly to the camera "There's no need to make crypto complicated."
Perhaps Binance assumes we've already forgotten about CZ's intricate web of companies through which he pushed Binance's funds through.
CZ and a mysterious executive Guangying ‘Helina’ Chen, allegedly received billions of dollars of customer funds through their holding company, Key Vision Development Limited. The funds were directed to Zhao's company Merit Peak via Key Vision Development Limited, the SEC claims.
“The SEC has been unable to determine why a Zhao-controlled entity that was purportedly trading on the Binance.US Platform using Zhao’s personal funds would have acted as a 'pass through' account for billions of dollars of Binance Platforms customers’ funds,” the SEC court filing reads.
$12 billion was allegedly sent to Zhao and $162 million to a Guangying Chen-controlled company in Singapore. Both controlled a number of companies that held no obvious connection to Binance. The funds are now in offshore accounts.
Lauri ends her segment by saying "these days everything is changing." Yes, they are, Lauri.
"Great customer service... Less stress"
Another profiled user by the name of Hugo tells the camera how he wanted a way to "maximise" his salary. He explains how he uses futures trading to place "bigger trades without committing large amounts" of his personal crypto.
"I did a bit of research and I found Binance," he recalls. "To be honest I never looked back... It has great customer service."
Hugo attested to Binance's copy trading feature which results in "less stress" for him.
This is all well and good until we're reminded of Binance's reluctance to carry out a professional audit.
According to Binance's proof-of-reserves, the exchange has $6.35 billion in total assets, which means it should be able to easily pay off the $4.3 billion fine without eating into customer funds.
However, Binance has refrained from disclosing its liabilities. Liabilities of more than $2 billion could sink the exchange. Back when FTX collapsed, eyes predictably turned to Binance. At that time, CNBC’s Becky Quick pressed CZ on whether Binance could handle a $2.1 billion payment.
“Would you be able to handle it if somebody asked you for $2.1 billion back?” Quick asked him.
“We are financially OK,” CZ replied, failing to provide a direct answer.
Binance has yet to commit to an audit or financial transparency. When Fortune pressed new Teng on when Binance would disclose the composition of its board and publish financial statements, Teng "declined to provide specifics, but said he has a 'robust timeline.'"
Instead of offering customers full transparency, Teng just wants you to trust him. Doesn't sound like great customer service nor less stress to us.
With so much changing at Binance, it's understandable that the world's largest exchange wants to reassure its customers about its solvency.
However, a video campaign staging users praising Binance is not just a poor PR move but one that reeks of irony. Both videos are painfully cringe-worthy, air-polished and fooling no one.
But perhaps an exchange telling you crypto is better with them whilst facing one of the industry's biggest fines for criminal activity could offer the laughs we severely lack right now.