Crypto Billionaires are ‘Technically’ Bankers — F* Decentralization

Crypto Billionaires are ‘Technically’ Bankers
Crypto Billionaires are ‘Technically’ Bankers

NAIROBI ( – The crypto market once hailed as a bastion of decentralization, now faces an ironic reality – its wealthiest individuals mirror the traditional banking elite. Forbes’ latest billionaires list reveals a startling concentration of crypto wealth, with the top three richest addresses controlling a substantial portion of the total cryptocurrency supply. This centralization of assets contradicts the fundamental principles of digital currencies, raising concerns about the integrity of the crypto sector.

Crypto Billionaires, Crypto Billionaires are ‘Technically’ Bankers — F* Decentralization
Bitcoin (BTC) price chart. Source: CoinMarkertCap

The crypto market has witnessed unprecedented growth over the past year, with Bitcoin soaring to a new high of $73,000. This surge was propelled by the U.S. legitimizing bitcoin-pegged exchange-traded funds, marking a significant milestone. The total cryptocurrency market value has skyrocketed, showcasing a 170% increase and adding about $1.6 trillion. This boom has not only bolstered the market but also expanded the roster of crypto billionaires to 17, as reported by Forbes in 2024.

Crypto Billionaires: The New Bankers?

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the founder and former CEO of Binance, continues to lead as the wealthiest crypto billionaire, with an estimated net worth of $33 billion. Despite legal challenges, including a guilty plea to U.S. money laundering charges, CZ’s wealth, primarily from Binance, positions him as a central figure in the crypto trading world.

In addition, Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, follows with a net worth that leaped to $11.2 billion, up from $2.2 billion. The surge in Coinbase shares, increasing more than fourfold in the past year, underscores the financial might these individuals wield within the crypto sector.

Crypto Sector Becomes a Rehashed Version of the Banking Sector

Notably, the wealth and influence of figures like CZ and Armstrong echo the hierarchy of traditional banking. This parallel exposes a contradiction to the crypto industry’s decentralization ideal. Their control and the dominance of their exchanges mirror banking’s centralized power. Here, a few entities command a vast share of assets and sway, shifting the crypto landscape.

Crypto Billionaires, Crypto Billionaires are ‘Technically’ Bankers — F* Decentralization
Michael Saylor MSTR shares. Source: Fintel

In addition, crypto billionaire Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, represents another facet of this trend. With his company’s strategic Bitcoin investments, Saylor’s net worth has skyrocketed to an estimated $4.4 billion. MicroStrategy holds 385,000 BTC, making Saylor a pivotal figure in the crypto world. This ownership underlines the market’s tilt towards centralization.

Above all, the rise of crypto billionaires marks the market’s rapid expansion and innovation potential. However, their amassed wealth ignites discussions on the core principle of decentralization within the industry. Transitioning, the future path of the sector will significantly hinge on these individuals’ decisions and sway. Ultimately, their influence underscores the critical balance between fostering growth and adhering to a decentralized ethos.

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