Crypto’s future

Will Binance come over to the light side?

With FTX crushed, CZ must decide whether to go along with regulation

“THE LUKE SKYWALKER and the Darth Vader of crypto.” That is how Michael Lewis, author of “Going Infinite”, a recent book about the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, a now-bankrupt crypto exchange, is supposed to have described the intense rivalry between his subject and Changpeng Zhao (pictured), the boss of Binance, a rival firm.

Until Mr Bankman-Fried’s exchange collapsed with an $8bn hole in its balance-sheet, the analogy seemed apt. The two men controlled the two largest crypto exchanges in the world. Both were known by acronyms: “SBF” and “CZ”. Young, talented and seemingly in favour of playing nice with regulators, SBF was something of a wunderkind, and CZ was his shadowy foil. Keen to avoid being pinned down by national laws, his exchange was based “nowhere”. Binance had long been under investigation for possible money-laundering and criminal-sanctions violations by America’s justice department. CZ had invested in FTX before the two turned on each other. Then SBF publicly goaded CZ about his legal problems, and a tweet by CZ probably helped set off the run on FTX.

Now, with FTX out of the picture and SBF on trial, charged with various kinds of fraud, which he denies, CZ looks a lot like the last man standing in crypto. Binance utterly…