Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, is still profitable despite last year’s market meltdown, its chief financial officer said.
Last year saw the prices of major virtual currencies plunge dramatically. Bitcoin, the most valuable crypto, is down 80 percent from a near-$20,000 record high it set in December 2017.
“To date, even in this bear market, we still run a profitable business,” Binance CFO Wei Zhou told CNBC in a phone interview Wednesday.
The company doesn’t disclose its financials publicly, he said, and media outlets have been publishing estimates based on publicly available metrics.
One report, by industry publication The Block, estimates Binance made $446 million last year, based on an analysis of how much it spent to buy back units of its token, called BNB, using its net profits.
The start-up’s Chief Executive Changpeng Zhao told Bloomberg in July that Binance was targeting a net profit of between $500 million and $1 billion in 2018.
The company has only been around since July 2017, but has become a dominant force in the nascent sector. It raised $15 million in its initial coin offering — a funding alternative to venture capital where start-ups sell new crypto tokens instead of equity.
Fast forward to 2019, and Binance’s trading volume — though significantly lower than it was during late 2017’s mega-rally — is the envy of other major venues. It is the largest virtual currency exchange by volume, according to CoinMarketCap, hosting $715 million in trades in the last 24 hours.
The firm hired Wei Zhou to take charge of its finances in September 2018. The executive has previously served in CFO roles at Chinese jobs site Zhaopin and TV ad company Charm Communications, navigating both businesses through their respective initial public offerings.
Asked whether Binance could seek a stock market listing of its own, given his background, he said there were “no plans” in the short term.
Wei Zhou is also credited as having orchestrated Chinese tech group Beijing Kunlun Tech’s acquisition of the gay dating app Grindr last year.
On the subject of potential mergers and acquisitions, he said “we’re always on the lookout for high quality products.”
Last year, the company bought crypto wallet maker Trust Wallet for an undisclosed amount and invested $2.5 million in Australian start-up TravelbyBit, which lets users book flights with cryptocurrency.