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Binance and Coinbase: How exchange-brokerages spread crypto gospel

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, speaks at the Delta Summit, Malta's official Blockchain and Digital Innovation event promoting cryptocurrency, in St Julian's, Malta October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi (Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)

Major cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Binance and Coinbase (COIN), are spreading crypto-gospel to entice users to stay within their trading ecosystems. The promotional initiatives of Binance and advertising language used by Coinbase are becoming increasingly fused with religious overtones.

Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. It is a relative newcomer to the cryptocurrency space as it was founded in 2017. The centralised exchange (CEX) was founded by Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ, and is registered in the Cayman Islands. Binance was first set up in China but had to depart after the nation's increasingly hostile attitude towards cryptocurrencies.

The company does not like criticism of its operations, and its CEO gave a warning against reading criticism of the crypto-space in mass media outlets. Concerned about the increasing amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in media articles about crypto, CZ tweeted: "If you associate yourself with FUD even just reading them, you are likely to become poorer."

Read more: UK’s finance watchdog declares Binance is 'not capable’ of being supervised


In response to difficulties in positively promoting itself in the mass media, Binance is attempting to build a community of enthusiastic supporters. They have been given a mission to grow the adoption rate of the exchange in the face of competition from rivals such as Coinbase, Kucoin and FTX.

One scheme developed by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is the Binance Academy, which is described on the exchange’s website as “a one-stop guide to all things crypto”. It has been developed as a learning resource for both rookies and veterans who are trying to develop their crypto trading strategy.

Read more: Live crypto prices

Another scheme is the proliferation of the so-called ‘Binance Angels’ movement. This is the exchange’s initiative to build a core of experts across the world who can enthuse cryptocurrency advocates to adopt Binance as their key entry and exit point within the sector.

The Binance Twitter account has advertised the initiative by tweeting, “help us with advancing crypto adoption by becoming a Binance Angel today”. One Angel, known as Jager, described the initiative in a testimony on the company’s webpage that was littered with religious overtones.

Watch: How crypto-lobbyists are 'dictating terms in Washington'

The testimony read: “Binance Angels are more than volunteers, they’re representatives of Binance’s vision. Angels are people who want to contribute towards Adoption and Freedom of Money. They’re the ones that truly believe in cryptocurrency, blockchain and Binance and want to help others join the movement. Our Angels are the closest to the users and are thus the ones that are best suited to discuss and assist them.”

Read more: Steve Hanke: 'We know the price of bitcoin, but not its value ... it's probably zero'

Binance has come under investigation by the US Internal Revenue Service on allegations of tax offences and money laundering. It has also come under the scrutiny of the UK Financial Conduct Authority and in June 2021 the centralised exchange was ordered to stop all regulated activity in Britain. Binance needs all the make-over it can get as it has had its reputation damaged after numerous exchange-wide hacks. The last major attack was in May 2019 when cyber thieves stole $40m (£30m) worth of bitcoin from the exchange.

Watch: What is the value of bitcoin?

Unlike Binance, Coinbase has never had a major exchange-wide hack. Coinbase's centralised cryptocurrency exchange is the major US-based on-ramp for retail crypto investors because of its user-friendly interface and trusted reputation. Its popularity has increased since it became a publicly listed company and it is now the de-facto US cryptocurrency brokerage. Coinbase was listed on Nasdaq on 14 April after getting official approval from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The company listed its shares at a valuation of $76bn.

The exchange is a US centralised cryptocurrency exchange, founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. Armstrong has spread the gospel of cryptocurrencies by stating that the company’s core mission is “to increase economic freedom in the world.”

Read more: Crypto scammers steal almost $8bn from investors in 2021

At the beginning of its development, Coinbase advertised itself as the gateway to trading crypto assets, referred to as “the future of money”. However, Coinbase has diluted this and now advertises itself as the online marketplace to “buy and sell digital currency”.

Throughout 2021 Armstrong has been advertising the Coinbase weekly podcast, tweeting this month that the weekly offering “is really hitting its stride”. This popular podcast informs viewers about the latest news in crypto but also acts as a gateway into the exchange's products, such as Coinbase Pro, which covers many derivative trading options. The podcast has been dubbed “the easiest way to stay in the know on all things crypto”.

People watch as the logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron at Times Square in New York, U.S., April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest US. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron at Times Square in New York. Photo: Reuters (Shannon Stapleton / reuters)

Outspoken issuances of crypto-gospel are also coming from leading sources in fintech and blockchain technology, most notably Twitter's (TWTR) Jack Dorsey. The former CEO of the premier micro-blogging platform has increased his pontification of bitcoin and the promises of Web 3.0 throughout the year.

In August he tweeted: “bitcoin will unite a deeply divided country and eventually the world.” At this year's Bitcoin Conference in Miami he lavished praise on the world’s premier crypto-offering: “For me, bitcoin changes absolutely everything. What I’m drawn to the most about it is the ethos, what it represents, are the conditions that created it, which are so rare and so special and so precious."

"I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on and I don’t think there’s anything more enabling for people around the world.”

'“For me, bitcoin changes absolutely everything,' said Twitter's former CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: Reuters
'For me, bitcoin changes absolutely everything,' said Twitter's former CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: Reuters (Handout . / reuters)

Tesla (TSLA) boss Elon Musk has taken an opposing stance towards centralised cryptocurrency exchanges and the rhetoric they transmit. In November, he agreed with those who had concerns about the dominance of the major cryptocurrency exchanges in the sector.

The head of SpaceX replied to a Twitter user who warned against the “dependence on CEXs like Binance and Robinhood". Another user added to the thread of complaints against these major exchanges, with one Twitter follower reminding readers of the original tenants of “not your keys, not your crypto”, which is a principle of the space advising users to keep their cryptocurrency in cold storage, off-chain, and out of the hands of centralised actors. Musk was following the thread and replied "exactly" to the above comment.

The attraction of cryptocurrency exchanges as a get-rich-quick scheme that runs 24 hours per day and seven days per week is incredibly enticing. One crypto-enthusiast spoke to Yahoo Finance about the attraction of using centralised cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance, FTX and Coinbase, saying, "it's like being in a live casino all day every day, 24 hours and seven days per week".

Watch: Why bitcoin's value is probably zero