Fast-growing Binance Australia looking to roll out debit cards, merchant payments to its 800,000 customers
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Binance Australia added another 300,000 Aussie customers in the past half-year to grow to a user base of 800,000 — and it has big plans for them, says chief executive Leigh Travers.
The company is looking to offer debit card services, more crypto payment options for merchants and possibly bring back derivatives products for leverage trading, Travers told Stockhead over Zoom on Thursday.
“When we did surveys for our customer base, the No. 1 (thing people wanted was debit cards), so they could spend their crypto directly from their Binance account, don’t have to cash it out. Literally convert crypto (to fiat) at time of use,” he said.
Offering a debit card requires an Australian Financial Services Licence. Travers said Binance Au is in talks with a number of agency firms about a partnership. Major credit card networks are now open to crypto-backed debit cards, but there’s also an enhanced due diligence process the company will have to go through.
“So that’s something I’m putting a lot of time and effort into,” he said.
Binance Australia is also working to fast-tracked an update to its Binance Pay product that’ll let users seamlessly pay with crypto at an online or point of sale merchant. Binance Pay soft-launched last year, but it’s not based in Australian dollars.
Travers predicts merchant adoption will be a big trend in 2022, noting the success of Afterpay and other buy now, pay later companies in the Aussie market.
Businesses will offer crypto not just for the customer experience, but to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, he said.
“My read on the Australian market is that they’re ready,” he said.
Travel companies and major charities are among the organisations eager to accept crypto, he said.
Binance Australia has plans to offer that product under licence, allowing merchants to plug into a global merchant network.
“That’s something that we want rolled out in the first half of 2022,” he said.
Binance Australia in September cut its Australian customers off from the global Binance Group’s popular derivatives products over regulatory concerns. (Those products included up to 20x leverage trading, with the risk of getting “rekt” if a trade goes bad.)
Travers said that such products can be offered in Australia with a certain licence.
“It’s something that Binance has been reviewing. And with the right responsible managers, I think there is some freedom for access to alternative financial products, as well as some guidelines in place so that investors can know what they’re trading.”
Such products aren’t appropriate for everyone, obviously, but there is a certain segment of the market that want to leverage trade these volatile assets, Travers said.
But it’s not certain those products will be re-introduced into the Australian market.
“I don’t think that’s more than a possibility,” he said.
Binance is best known for its trading platform, but Travers said its NFT marketplace is actually the second-largest globally, and the company plans to make it more available to Australians.
Wholesale Investor has selected Binance Australia to help run its physical NFT gallery, where some of the best NFT projects will be displayed in March.
“Some of the best Binance projects will be there, and some of the better projects globally will be seen through that showcase,” said Travers, a 35-year-old Perth native who joined Binance Australia in August after seven years as chief executive of DigitalX (ASX:DCC).
It’s been an exciting time at Binance, said Travers, with investment bankers, ex-regulators and chief marketing officers joining the company on a weekly or monthly basis.
Binance Australia is currently a joint venture between the global Binance Group, which owns 60 per cent, and its Australian founders. Queensland-based InvestbyBit, which has an AUSTRAC licence, controls the company.
All the technical operations are run by Binance Group through a service agreement, while the Australian operation is in charge of connecting with regulators and banking services and complying with Australia-based know-your-customer and know-your business rules. Local marketing is also handled here.
But Travers said it’s possible the two groups will develop a much closer working relationship.
Binance Australia is the fastest-growing crypto exchange in the country, Travers said, adding he expects the company to be “certainly more than double where we are now” in terms of customer numbers.