Industry Recovery Initiative Setbacks as Binance and Others Fail on Commitments

By  Noah Washington October 15, 2023

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  • Binance pledged $1 billion for its Industry Recovery Initiative (IRI) but has only utilized 3% of the funds so far, raising concerns about its commitment
  • Other crypto companies also failed to fulfill their IRI funding pledges, with some withdrawing most of their committed amounts
  • The crypto community is increasingly frustrated by the lack of accountability and transparency around the IRI funds

In the fast-paced world of cryptocurrency, promises and commitments often come and go, but fulfillment remains a pressing concern. Among the big players in the crypto industry, Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, raised eyebrows with its ambitious Industry Recovery Initiative (IRI).

The IRI was hailed as a ray of hope for crypto firms facing difficulties, backed by a remarkable $1 billion commitment from Binance. However, almost a year has passed, and revelations indicate that a mere 3% of the pledged amount has been utilized, leaving many in the crypto community questioning Binance's dedication to its grand promises.

Binance's $1 Billion Pledge

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the charismatic CEO of Binance, captured the crypto community's attention when he vowed to be the savior of the crypto ecosystem through the IRI. His commitment was no small feat - a promise to invest a billion dollars in crypto firms grappling with financial hardships.

This declaration was made at a time when the crypto industry was weathering a brutal bear market that had persisted for nearly two years. It seemed like a glimmer of hope for many, and expectations were high.

Fast forward to the present. Concerns are mounting as the IRI has only managed to deploy a meager $30 million out of the pledged billion dollars. Binance, which had committed to investing $1 billion, has, in reality, only spent $15 million. The crypto community is left questioning whether Binance's commitment is wavering, and if so, why?

Binance Transfers Funds Back to Corporate Treasury

An in-depth report by Bloomberg unveiled the startling reality of the IRI's fund utilization. Binance's commitment to the IRI versus its actual spending raised a few eyebrows, to say the least.

In February 2023, Binance made a significant move by investing $15 million to acquire a majority stake in the South Korean crypto exchange Gopax. The deal was perceived as a gateway for Binance to enter the South Korean market, but regulatory approval was still pending.

What came as a shock was the revelation that Binance had transferred the remaining $985 million back to its corporate treasury. The on-chain data confirmed this transfer as the funds were first moved to a depositor wallet known as "0xco97". Subsequently, Binance shifted the funds from "0xco97" to its Binance 14 hot wallet.

Dana Hou, a Binance Labs executive, explained, stating, "We didn't identify as many projects who would meet our criteria, and this is the same for the other investors."

Lack of Investment Commitment by Other Companies

Binance is one of many parties under scrutiny. Other companies that pledged significant sums to the IRI have also raised concerns by failing to fulfill commitments. Jump Crypto, with the second-highest commitment of $25 million, has not invested any amount as of now. Meanwhile, DWF Lab, which pledged $15 million for the IRI, spent $2 million and withdrew the remaining amount from the IRI wallet.

An analysis of the eight companies listed in the report reveals that at least five of them have made zero investments, leaving only Aptos Labs as the sole entity to have fulfilled its commitment by investing $5 million in crypto firms grappling with liquidity crises.

Consequently, public wallets of the IRI are left with a meager $32 million, with most of the funds having been withdrawn by crypto companies, raising further questions about the state of the IRI.

Frustration and Accountability Issues

When CZ announced the IRI on November 14, 2022, he expressed the urgency of saving projects that were strong but facing liquidity crises. He also welcomed other crypto companies to join this initiative, underlining the dire need for action in the industry.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter of 2023, and the promised actions are yet to be realized. This delay has led to frustration among community members and concerns about the accountability surrounding the pledged amounts. Clara Medalie, the director of research at blockchain analytics firm Kaiko, emphasized the importance of accountability, saying, "It's a matter of accountability, and there wasn't much of that for this recovery fund".

Source: Twitter/X

Community members have also voiced concerns. One Twitter/X user, @Derivatives_Ape, wrote, "Everything seems to point to them being broke while putting on the illusion of strength. Only deployed less than $30m out of a $1 billion 'recovery fund.' Not even a generous act on their behalf; they were planning to scoop up companies for pennies on the dollar."

Falling Short of Expectations

The underutilization of IRI funds has sparked questions about Binance's commitment to the initiative and its ability to deliver on its promises. This development has had a significant impact on the crypto industry and community sentiment, as unfulfilled promises and delayed actions have eroded trust in such initiatives.

As the crypto community continues to seek clarity and transparency, Binance and other crypto companies must address these concerns and demonstrate their commitment to the IRI and the broader vision of a revitalized crypto ecosystem. The ongoing questions surrounding Binance's commitment to the IRI serve as a reminder of the importance of trust and accountability in the cryptocurrency industry.