“I don’t care about wealth,” CZ says on being one of the richest men in the world

  • Binance is generating tens of billions of dollars a year, and CZ owns a significant portion of the exchange, making him one of the richest men in the world.
  • He says that he doesn’t care about wealth, though, and that he doesn’t even know how much money he’s worth.

Cryptocurrencies have made a lot of people wealthy, with hodlers, traders, startup founders and exchanges taking a fair chunk of profits from the $2.5 trillion-dollar market. However, few have made more money than Changpeng Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest exchange. CZ doesn’t care about wealth, he says in an interview today, and that his goal is to spread the gospel of cryptocurrencies.

CZ was speaking to Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. He talked about several facets of the cryptocurrency industry, including regulations, Binance US, why Bitcoin has yet to take off as a payment system and what the future holds.

On how much money Binance makes, he revealed that this varies depending on the values of the tokens trading in the market. Binance doesn’t cash in on its cryptocurrencies. As such, its profits would be much higher now with most tokens at all-time high levels than they were two years ago, but only on paper as it hodls them all.

Regardless, for a company that processes about $50 billion on a bad day and over $150 billion on good days, Binance is bringing in quite a chunk of money. While he darted around the question and refused to give a specific number, CZ claims that it’s about tens of billions of dollars a year.

As Bloomberg’s Schatzker observed, with CZ owning the majority of the business, he’s “one of the richest people in the world.”

CZ: I don’t care about wealth

For all his wealth, CZ goes under the radar often when people look at the list of the richest cryptocurrency entrepreneurs. Forbes, for instance, put his wealth at just $1.9 billion this year. This was below Ripple’s Chris Larsen at $3.4 billion, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong at $6.5 billion and Gemini’s Winklevoss twins at $3 billion each.

A revised list put Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX exchange and Alameda Research as the richest cryptocurrency billionaire at $23 billion.

However, Binance is way bigger than FTX. In the past 24 hours, while FTX did $4.7 billion, Binance was at $41 billion, nearly 10x.

CZ is reported to own at least 30 percent of Binance. The exchange has been said to be valued at $200 billion, which would put CZ’s value at $60 billion, making him the richest man in cryptocurrencies and in the top 20 globally, higher than Michael Bloomberg and Michael Dell.

But CZ isn’t too concerned about rankings, he told Schatzker.

I don’t really care about wealth, money and rankings. As I said in a recent Forbes interview, I’m committed to donating 99% of my wealth away before I leave this world. Any time people pay too much attention to that [the wealth], they tend to lose focus.

For CZ, what matters most is “building tools for people to access crypto.”

One of the ways he intends to bring in more people to cryptocurrencies is by charging lower fees on his platform. Already, Binance charges way lower than its competitors including Coinbase, Kraken and FTX. CZ believes that these fees can go even lower as the exchange is already quite profitable as it is.

“I don’t believe in maximizing profits or shareholder value in the short term. I believe in growing the industry, providing the best value for our users and then we’ll grow,” he told the audience.

Smart regulations, Bitcoin payments, crypto manifesto

Binance recently published a manifesto detailing what the cryptocurrency owners are owed by their exchanges. This manifesto was intended for everybody, from regulators and users to competitors, CZ revealed. He believes that there is too much misinformation about cryptocurrencies and it’s his duty, and that of Binance, to change this.

And while everyone calls for regulations, the former Coinbase engineer believes that they need to be ‘smart regulations.’

Dumb regulations are from regulators who have a single metric, aimed at reducing risk. […] The smart regulations look at multiple metrics, such as the reduction of risk while growing the economy. If people have that kind of mindset, they will be pro-business and pro-regulations.

Related: Regulatory crackdowns are an advantage for Binance: CZ

Weighing in on the “Bitcoin will replace the U.S dollar” debate, CZ believes this is a bit premature. In addition, replacing the dollar at once wouldn’t be prudent, he believes. Rather, a slow integration of Bitcoin into the financial system would do the world a lot of good. This way, we can monitor the effect it has on the economy and the monetary policies before we dive all in.

Still on this, he pointed out that the current financial systems are doing quite well in some aspects. For instance, paying for your coffee with a credit card is convenient, easy and cheap. This is why Bitcoin hasn’t cornered this market. However, global inter-country payments are still slow and expensive, and this is what Bitcoin is most suited for.