The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos once symbolised a certain kind of out-of-touch globalism, mixing politics and high finance. The recent image of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton on stage next to crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, clad in a T-shirt and socks, suggests the torch has been passed.
The sight of these centrist elders, famous for their light-touch approach to financial regulation, alongside the latest generation of fintech guru isn’t a case of “crypto going mainstream.” Rather, it demonstrates the kind of acceptance and respectability that only money can buy — and the risks that go with it.
The spending of tech dollars on European expansion is a case in point. This week, Binance, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by trading volume, said it had secured regulatory approval in France — less than a year after it was hit with a bombshell ban by the UK regulator.
Besides lavishing praise on Emmanuel Macron, a recent charm offensive by Binance’s billionaire boss, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, included a €100-million ($105 million) investment in France’s blockchain ecosystem, an initial recruitment drive of 250 staff, and the poaching of a top French regulatory official.