Binance doesn’t know how much BNB it has

BNB, the token associated with crypto exchange Binance, has attracted additional scrutiny with a recent Forbes investigation revealing that the original Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was a flop. 

The report, produced in collaboration with Gray Wolf Analytics and Inca Digital, alleges that less than 11 million of the 100 million tokens on offer were actually sold in the sale. After this failure, Binance apparently chose to double the allocation for angel investors like Matthew Roszak and Roger Ver.

The report further alleges that Binance “likely raised less than $5 million,” significantly less than the $15 million that Changpeng Zhao, the founder and chief exec, bragged about on LinkedIn. 

The end result of this failed ICO was, allegedly, that Binance ended up with vastly more BNB than it had planned, and as BNB has become more valuable over time, this has resulted in large financial benefits for the company.

Forbes highlights in its reporting that this could be because investors chose to keep BNB on the exchange and therefore it was not distributed in a recognizable way. Forbes and Gray Wolf feel this is an unlikely explanation “because investors would typically not want to keep it on an exchange whose security had not been established.”

However, Protos does want to highlight that one of the primary advertised benefits of BNB was that it would provide a discount on Binance fees and would be used as ‘gas’ for Binance advanced features, so many purchasers would be incentivized to keep the assets on the exchange

Even today, there are still questions about the distribution of BNB. Deso, a pseudonymous cryptocurrency researcher, recently highlighted that Binance’s most recent ‘proof-of-reserves’ currently shows only approximately 33 million of the total 150 million BNB are stored on Binance, against 29 million in customer balances.

In November, Binance released a transparency report that shared many of its hot and cold wallet addresses. Confusingly, these addresses hold far more than the proof of reserves would seem to indicate

AddressApproximate Number of BNB
bnb1edrs5cukhx060e02u98v9j8spum7vhuqg9ctxd30 million
bnb142q467df6jun6rt5u2ar58sp47hm5f9wvz2cvg17 million
bnb1u2agwjat20494fmc6jnuau0ls937cfjn4pjwtn4.5 million
bnb1lsmt5a8vqqus5fwslx8pyyemgjtg4y6ugj308t500 thousand
bnb1fnd0k5l4p3ck2j9x9dp36chk059w977pszdgdz29 thousand
bnb1jxfh2g85q3v0tdq56fnevx6xcxtcnhtsmcu64m37 thousand
0x8894e0a0c962cb723c1976a4421c95949be2d4e3255 thousand
0xbe0eb53f46cd790cd13851d5eff43d12404d33e8393 thousand
0xf977814e90da44bfa03b6295a0616a897441acec393 thousand

Read more: Disaster relief or marketing ploy? Binance airdrops BNB to users in Morocco and Libya

This seems to add up to approximately 53 million tokens, or approximately 160% of the total it claims to hold. Protos has reached out to Binance to clarify this discrepancy between its proof-of-reserves and its previously disclosed holding addresses. We will update this if the company responds with information that clarifies the discrepancy. 

Binance-branded cryptocurrency assets have previously displayed on-chain behavior that contradicted Binance communications. Binance has previously failed to keep adequate collateral segregated for its ‘Binance-pegged Binance Dollar.’ 

Binance is currently facing multiple legal and regulatory issues, including a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit and a Commodities Future Trading Commission lawsuit, as well as reportedly having prosecutors prepared to indict on money laundering charges.

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