Changpeng Zhao, founder and chief executive of cryptocurrency trading platform Binance, is the world’s richest crypto billionaire with a net worth of $65 billion, according to Forbes’ 2022 World Billionaires List.
Mr Zhao, also known as “CZ”, owns an estimated 70 per cent of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which this week received in-principle approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market to operate as a broker-dealer in virtual assets in the UAE capital.
Last month, Binance also secured a virtual asset licence to operate in Dubai after the emirate outlined clear regulations to govern emerging technology sectors such as cryptocurrencies in an effort to safeguard investors.
The Forbes list, which used stock prices and exchange rates from March 11 to calculate the personal fortunes of the world’s richest people, features a record 19 billionaires who made their money from cryptocurrency and blockchain technology – seven more than in 2021.
“It’s been a wild 12 months for the world of cryptocurrencies, from the Elon Musk-fuelled ascent of Dogecoin, to Web3 innovations and non-fungible tokens [NFTs], to the wild swings in Bitcoin and other crypto tokens,” Forbes said.
“Amid all the action, there’s also no shortage of money to be made in the $2 trillion crypto economy.”
Last November, Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $68,000, then crashed in January to settle just above $35,000. Today, the digital token is trading in the $41,280 range.
Last week, Forbes declared Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $219bn.
However, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and volatile stock markets have taken a toll on the combined wealth of the world’s richest people, which slipped 3 per cent to $12.7 trillion over the past year, from a record $13.1tn in 2021.
In total, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world, down from an all-time high of 2,755 last year.
Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and chief executive of global cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was ranked as the second-wealthiest crypto billionaire with a personal fortune of $24bn, followed by Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong with a net worth of $6.6bn.
In March, FTX received a virtual asset licence to set up regulated trading and clearing services in Dubai.
Gary Wang, also a co-founder of FTX who was crowned the world’s richest billionaire aged under 30 by Forbes, ranked fourth with a net worth of $5.9bn, while Ripple’s Chris Larson rounded out the top five with a fortune of $4.3bn.
Newcomers to the list include Nikil Viswanathan and Joseph Lau, co-founders of Web3 infrastructure company Alchemy, each with a net worth of $2.4bn, and Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, co-founders of NFT marketplace OpenSea, who are worth $2.2bn, Forbes said.
The world’s richest crypto billionaires
- Changpeng Zhao — Binance: $65bn
- Sam Bankman-Fried — FTX: $24bn
- Brian Armstrong — Coinbase: $6.6bn
- Gary Wang — FTX: $5.9bn
- Chris Larsen — Ripple: $4.3bn
- Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss — Bitcoin: $4bn each
- Song Chi-hyung — Upbit: $3.7bn
- Barry Silbert — Digital Currency Group: $3.2bn
- Jed McCaleb — Ripple, Stellar: $2.5bn