Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange globally, is in the spotlight as founder Changpeng Zhao has stepped down from his CEO role, overseeing substantial growth for over six years. The announcement of Richard Teng as the next CEO signifies a significant leadership transition.
The news comes swiftly following Zhao’s guilty plea on Tuesday for US money laundering charges. The Department of Justice has recommended a substantial $50 million fine in connection with Zhao’s plea.
A true Singaporean native, Richard Teng became part of Binance in August 2021 as the CEO of Binance Singapore. Prior to assuming the CEO position, he served as the global head of regional markets at Binance.
Teng brings with him over three decades of financial services and regulatory experience, notably serving as the director of corporate finance at the Monetary Authority of Singapore and as chief executive at Abu Dhabi Global Market.
Teng taking a selfie with Alpine F1 driver, Pierre Gasly, onstage after their fireside chat during this year’s TOKEN2049 event in Singapore. (Image Source: X @_RichardTeng)
Born in the year 1971 in Singapore and alumni of Victoria Junior College, Teng graduated with first-class honors in Accountancy from Nanyang Technological University in 1994 before embarking on a 13-year tenure at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and rising to the position of Director of Corporate Finance. His contributions during this period included involvement in initiatives that shaped Singapore’s financial landscape.
During his tenure at MAS in 1998, he expanded his horizons by pursuing a Master’s in Applied Finance at the University of Western Australia. Later, in 2004, he participated in the executive leadership program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
In 2007, Teng transitioned to the Singapore Exchange (SGX), where he served as Chief Regulatory Officer and played a pivotal role in establishing frameworks for Chinese company listings and enhancing safeguards in the stock market. Subsequently, he joined Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) as CEO in 2015, where he garnered international recognition for the financial authority.
Teng, represented ADGM as CEO of FSRA, and Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, signed the Cooperation Agreement in 2017. (Image Source: ADGM)
Teng’s leadership at ADGM, marked by achievements and global acknowledgment, included fostering a credible regulatory framework and promoting financial intermediation.
In addition to his executive roles, Teng served on the boards of various corporations, including Lulu Financial Group, Blockchain Association Singapore, and the Global Fintech Institute. He joined Binance in August 2021 as CEO of Binance Singapore, later expanding his responsibilities to oversee regional markets globally before being appointed as the new CEO.
Throughout his career, Teng had the privilege of working closely with Singapore’s top government and business leaders, including PM Lee Hsien Loong, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, DPM Heng Swee Keat, Teo Swee Lian, Tan Kim Kway, Yeo Lian Sim, Magnus Bocker, Hsieh Fu Hua and Gan Seow Ann, gaining insights into effective leadership, mentorship, clarity of vision, adaptability, and tireless innovation.
Mentor the Next Gen – “Despite their busy schedules, they always have time if you need help. They are always willing to impart knowledge and they want to help others succeed. They also set aside time to check on the well-being of their key people, even if they are no longer working for them directly. We need to invest in our future talent to make sure that the next generation is better than the present.”
Clarity – “The leaders I have worked with exhibit clarity of vision and purpose, have the ability to articulate them and are fully committed to achieving them.”
Ability to Adapt – “They also demonstrate the ability to adapt their approaches to take into account rapidly changing circumstances, without losing sight of the goal.”
Tireless – “There is a sparkle in the eye and fire in the belly, regardless of age. They are generating new ideas, thinking out of the box, connecting dots and making things happen. They are always thinking of what’s next and planning ahead.”
Despite his successful stint, the father of two – daughter, 24, and son, 18 – expressed a commitment to return to Singapore once a month due to family priorities while he was located in Abu Dhabi.
During his interview with The Peak Magazine in 2018,
“My family needs me. It’s a sacrifice for them. When my boy went through his PSLE last year, I felt guilty about not being with him,”
In an effort to compensate for his absence, he made a dedicated attempt to Skype with them every day.
Despite his demanding work schedule, according to the interview, Teng embraced Bikram Yoga, attesting to its calming effects and its role in maintaining his fitness.
These are 3 of his go-to poses:
1. Downward-face Dog – “It is a foundation pose that provides deep stretch and gets the body ready for more challenging poses.”
2. Lord of The Dance – “This requires balance and symmetry. It is a great stretch and improves posture.”
3. Supported Headstand – “Doing this works on the core, strengthens the body and helps to achieve proper alignment. It calms me as a lot of focus goes into controlling my breathing and being conscious of the slightest body movement.”
Following his new appointment, Teng outlined three key priorities for Binance’s trajectory on his X (formally called Twitter) account:
Amidst these shifts, Binance recently agreed to a substantial $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice. Additionally, the exchange intends to completely withdraw from the United States market, appointing a monitor to oversee its sanctions compliance programme for the next five years. Furthermore, Binance will grant access to its records and systems to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Teng’s new role as CEO arrives amid heightened regulatory scrutiny facing Binance worldwide. His appointment is a pivotal part of the company’s strategy to regain trust among its 150 million user base. With prior experience overseeing global markets, Teng is primed to navigate Binance through these regulatory challenges, signalling a commitment to regulatory compliance and a reshaping of its operational landscape.