Binance Coin has strengthened its position as one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies after a 53% rally in the past seven days to the third spot behind Bitcoin and Ether.
Issued by the world’s largest crypto exchange, the digital coin commonly known as BNB now has a market capitalization of $87 billion, according to CoinGecko.com. That makes it the third-most valuable cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin at $1.1 trillion and Ether at $252 billion. The token has traded places with Tether and other coins for weeks, underscoring BNB’s increasing importance in the crypto ecosystem.
Coinbase Global Inc.’s public debut this week is one reason for the recent jump. Digital coins of other cryptocurrency exchanges have been on a tear as well, with the coin of exchange Uniswap up 14% in the past 24 hours, and the token of FTX exchange rising in the past couple of days as well. Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange, will be the first major cryptocurrency company go to public with an estimated valuation of about $100 billion.
“BNB had yet to replicate Bitcoin’s and Ether’s price appreciations of last year, so it is an alignment of quite a few positive setups for it to outperform,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto lender Nexo, who is long BNB. He added that some forecasts for the coin point to a price of almost $1,000.
BNB was trading at $562.42 as of 2:51 p.m. in Hong Kong Tuesday, little changed in the past 24 hours, according to CoinGecko.com.
BNB has a lot going for it aside from the broader crypto enthusiasm. The token is used widely for trading on Binance, where it’s a sort of a loyalty system to reduce prices of trades, and the exchange’s trading volumes have exploded as Bitcoin vaults to new highs. What’s more, back in August of 2020 Binance started what it calls Smart Chain — a competitor to Ethereum that can be used for applications like decentralized finance (peer-to-peer lending, borrowing and trading) — but with lower transaction fees. A number of DeFi apps that used to run only on Ethereum, such as the 1inch exchange aggregator, have begun supporting Binance Smart Chain.
The Binance Smart Chain uses BNBs for transaction fees and other functions, and it has been on a tear. Its all-time-high transaction volume of 5 million transactions was higher than Ethereum’s 1.3 million. Binance has set up a $100 million accelerator fund to rev up projects on the blockchain, and more than 300 projects are already built on top of the Binance Smart Chain, including a distributed exchange called PancakeSwap. Users have locked about $31 billion in the Binance Smart Chain. Funds locked in DeFi on Ethereum reach $52 billion, according to DeFi Pulse.
“BSC is getting a ton of traction,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, chief executive officer of rival FTX exchange, where Binance holds a minority stake. “Worth noting that ETH’s traction was only ever ~50k users or so, though billions of dollars of capital. I don’t think it’ll replace ETH — it’s too centralized — but I do think it put a really serious dent in ETH’s narrative of dominance.”
Binance said the Smart Chain is not centralized, and does not belong to the exchange, but is governed by the community. Questions about Binance’s influence are giving some crypto insiders pause. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating Binance over concerns it allowed Americans to place wagers that violated U.S. rules.
“In a time of relative peace, effectively centralized chains like BSC can win favor and usage, especially as Ethereum fees become a rake that price out all but the wealthiest users,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics. “But I suspect that the more centralized chains which are effectively administered by corporate entities will prove fragile in the long term. I don’t believe BSC can survive even moderate state-level scrutiny should it materialize.”