How Changpeng Zhao's departure from Binance will affect Trust Wallet

The popular cryptocurrency wallet Trust Wallet has always been associated with Binance, and the price of its token often reacted to news events around the largest cryptocurrency exchange. Criminal charges were brought against Binance and its now former head Changpeng Zhao in the United States, because of which Zhao was forced to leave his position, and the exchange itself was ordered to pay a fine of $4.3 billion. At the same time, the company managing the wallet changed jurisdiction and set its sights on new markets, writes RBC Crypto.

Trust Wallet is a software crypto wallet designed for self-storage of digital assets and transactions in decentralized financial applications. Zhao acquired a majority stake in the Trust Wallet developer in 2018, and since 2022 it has been led by Eowyn Chen, who was previously responsible for marketing at Binance.

New markets

Now Chen intends to make Asia a top priority for wallet growth, she said in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of a crypto conference in Australia in November. It names Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia as key markets for platform expansion.

According to Data.ai, globally the mobile version of Trust Wallet has more than 56 million downloads on iOS and Android, making it the most popular crypto wallet for mobile devices. Rival MetaMask takes second place with 43 million downloads. According to Data.ai, Trust Wallet has received about 8.5 million downloads in India and about 3.5 million in Pakistan.

But despite significant growth potential in Asia, the company is moving business from the US to the United Arab Emirates. Chen herself moved to Dubai in October, and the company behind Trust Wallet will be based in Ras al Khaimah, the sixth largest city in the UAE. According to Chen, the company now has about 80 employees worldwide, of which about 15-20% are in the UAE.

Regulatory uncertainty around cryptocurrencies in the US, she says, creates problems for business. She associates the creation of a company in the UAE with “diversification of risk management from a corporate point of view”. Local regulators are more loyal to crypto businesses and have a “more reasonable” approach to regulating the field of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Trust Wallet operates in the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone, where the company already has a business license. This zone is also known as RAK DAO, the so-called “Digital Asset Oasis”, where several blockchain companies already operate. A separate company, DApps Platform, owns the intellectual property rights to the wallet and is based in Abu Dhabi Global Market, another free trade zone in the UAE.

Trust Wallet is not yet profitable and only started generating revenue last year, Chen said.

Binance and Trust Wallet

In 2018, Binance, under the leadership of Zhao, acquired Trust Wallet from wallet creator Viktor Radchenko. Commenting on the deal, Zhao called the company behind the wallet “a diamond among the dirt” and noted the “strong technical skills” of the developers. The transaction amount was not disclosed, but it is known that payment was partially made in Binance shares and BNB tokens, which were then trading at a rate of about $15.

Zhao is not involved in the day-to-day operations of Trust Wallet, but provides «operational strategic advice» as the company's majority owner, according to Chen.. Any public statements by the former head of Binance about the wallet create resonance, she notes.

Last November, the native Trust Wallet token (TWT) skyrocketed nearly 50% in response to Zhao's X (formerly Twitter) post advising his followers amid the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX exchange. By the end of 2022, the TWT price reached an all-time high of $2.7, but then dropped by almost half.

Until October of this year, the price of the token did not show significant growth, despite the general rise of the crypto market. The TWT rate on December 5 is $1.2 with a capitalization of about $500 million, according to Coinmarketcap data. The token is traded on Binance, Bybit, KuCoin and other crypto exchanges.

In early November, Binance announced the launch of trading in perpetual futures on TWT, which triggered the growth of the token. Trust Wallet was secretly considered in the crypto community to be the “official” wallet of Binance, but on November 8, the exchange introduced its own Web3 wallet, which, in fact, became its competing project. After the presentation of the new wallet on the exchange’s social networks, the TWT rate fell sharply by almost 10%.

As a result of Zhao's settlement with the US Department of Justice, he left the post of head of Binance, and Richard Teng took his place, and it is not yet clear whether he will seek to actively expand the new Binance product.

Trust Wallet doesn't currently have a significant marketing budget, Chen said. The company spends “several thousand dollars a month” on promoting the wallet, she says, and popularity and user growth occurs organically or through word of mouth.