Top crypto exchange, Binance, seems to be providing trading services for mainland Chinese customers despite the local ban, a report published yesterday by China National Radio, or CNR, alleges.
According to CNR, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, has been promoting a website called “binancezh.com” on his Weibo page.
Originally founded in China a few months prior to the local 2017 ban prohibiting cryptocurrency trading, Binance moved overseas soon after the crackdown and is currently headquartered in the Cayman Islands and Seychelles.
As noted by 8btc, a local cryptocurrency news outlet, “zh” can be short for the Mandarin word "zhongwen," meaning “Chinese”. While the website allows visitors to choose among a dozen language choices, it seems to be redirecting to the Chinese version no matter what language gets selected.
A Beijing-based CNR reporter was allegedly able to register an account on binancezh.com after uploading ID documents and completing face verification via the exchange’s mobile app. The journalist then ostensibly completed a Chinese Yuan-to-BTC trade over the exchange’s OTC (over-the-counter) desk.
Binance told CNR that the exchange’s app is not available on the Chinese market, adding that if “mainland users are overseas or use overseas IDs for transactions, it is more difficult to identify them.”
As for binancezh.com, Binance reportedly explained that it is a “test site” used mostly by Egyptian residents, citing data from web traffic analysis company Alexa.
According to Alexa, nearly half of the visitors seem to be coming from Egypt, while the US and Hong Kong come next with 6.8% and 5.8% respectively. However, an equivalent search result on SimilarWeb shows that almost 80% of the website’s traffic comes from China, while Egypt constitutes a humble 8%.
Data from who.is shows that the website was registered by Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd., while the registrant’s state is the Cayman Islands.
“Binancezh.com is a test site that we do not advertise or market to the public,” a Binance spokesperson told Cointelegraph.
Binance’s Chinese domain
Last month, Binance officially registered a different Chinese domain (binance.cn) with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT. As CZ explained at the time, Binance’s Chinese domain will initially focus on “education and technology” instead of crypto, which seems to align with China’s “blockchain before Bitcoin” policy.