Binance came out of nowhere in 2017 to become the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange. Its explosive growth has been fueled by a strategy of avoiding the regulatory headaches that go with the conventional banking system, and focusing instead on the freewheeling world of crypto-to-crypto trading.
Now, Binance is wading into the world of government-issued money—raising the question of whether it can keep growing without getting singed by regulators. The latest sign of Binance’s new focus came last week when the company announced it would hire CipherTrace, a California-based business that helps companies and law enforcement trace suspicious cryptocurrency movements.
“This is inline with our aggressive expansion plan. We want to keep standards of anti-money laundering and compliance at a high level,” Samuel Lim, chief compliance officer at Binance, told Fortune.
Lim, whose background includes stints at global banks like Deutsche Bank and Barclays, added that Binance has already been working with other compliance firms, and that the company has long taken seriously issues like fraud and money laundering.
These efforts are likely to receive new scrutiny in coming months as Binance prepares to launch a so-called “fiat to crypto” gateway—allowing customers to trade traditional currencies for digital ones like Bitcoin—in Singapore, which will put it squarely in the grips of that country’s financial regulators.
Meanwhile, the company has also been promoting a new type of crypto fundraising known as “Initial exchange offerings.” These are a variation of initial coin offerings, which involve selling digital tokens to the general public, and were once wildly popular but fell out of favor amid regulatory disapproval. (The “exchange” variation involves Binance selecting a handful of token projects to conduct sales on the company’s “Launchpad” platform).