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Crypto may yet upend payments

Payments Dive

Layoffs abound in the crypto world, as they have since early May. The year switched anew on the calendar, yet the sector gets no “new year, new me” shift: More than 26,000 jobs were lost in crypto in 2022. By press time, the 2023 tally had numbered no less than 1,900.

It’s hard to predict when the layoff trend will subside, but one exchange is bucking it: Binance. After hiring 5,000 workers last year, CEO Changpeng Zhao told the Crypto Finance Conference in Switzerland on Jan. 11 that he hopes to increase Binance’s workforce by 15% to 30% this year.

“We will continue to build and hopefully we will ramp up again before the next bull market,” he said.

That could be a while. The average crypto winter lasts four years, according to Forbes. And given that mysterious Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto only released it 14 years ago, that’s no small amount of time. The last crypto winter lasted for three — from late 2017 to late 2020 — before coin prices skyrocketed to historical highs by November 2021.

In traditional securities, bear markets occur when a market index drops by 20%. And although there’s no official definition for the industry’s analog crypto winter, 2022 was icy cold. In May, one of the most prominent stablecoins depegged from the U.S. dollar, causing market tumult. Throughout the year, many of the most prominent exchanges — CelsiusVoyager DigitalFTX and BlockFi — went belly up. The price of Bitcoin dropped, at least temporarily, by 77%.