David Prinçay is an engineer by trade and a big projects manager. At least I thought so, after checking online his resume on LinkedIn and his interviews, before meeting him at the The French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry autumn cocktail at the Embassy of the Republic of France in Sofia, Bulgaria this September.
A graduate of HEC Paris, he has been the chairman of Binance France since the year 2020. Additionally, he oversees Binance's European marketing initiatives. David served as the French Cryptocurrency Circle's chairman for a while, and it was because of his help that Binance was able to begin operations in France and Europe by obtaining the Digital Asset Service Providers (DASPs) registration.
Hence Mr Prinçay is the president for France of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume as of July 2022, – Binance, there is only one person above him in the corporate ladder of this futuristic corporation - Zhao Changpeng – the genius co-founder and CEO of Binance.
Given all those facts, I presupposed to meet a serious and even boring blue-collar financier, whereas I bumped into an outgoing and pleasant to talk to super professional of 36.
BGNES: Let me ask you first – BINANCE is a global company that operates the largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of daily trading volume of cryptocurrencies. How from 2017 until today BINANCE managed to develop into the largest cryptocurrency exchange?
Basically, what we have done is to descent into our community and get closer and closer into our community. What we do is operate on a day-to-day basis and make sure all the users are satisfied. And that’s out mission. So we build products that our users ask, we listen to the community, we are very much present. I, myself, am a former Binance user, so I come from the community and then went inside Binance. So, you see, basically the community nurtures us both ways – they are clients, they can also become employees and, you know, based on that we always follow what user wants. That’s as simple as that. We do what our users are requesting and that’s how our formula works.
BGNES: That’s marvelous - actually coming from the community, you said, and because the cryptocurrency is surrounded by – it’s not mysteries, but by a lot of desire of people or have a new, a revolutionary product since its inception – how hard was for you to come from a user to a professional in the field?
For me it was interesting, as I have a background of an engineer and I saw this technology and I wanted to dig deeper. After that, I created a French community in order to discover together, because alone you can work faster, but together you can work longer and more far away. So what I have done, you know, really was to be a user of Binance, to know all the products, to understand really the logic of the platform and at some point – the opportunity was there and I just joined (the company) with pleasure.
BGNES: Having joined Binance in 2020, you have made France one of the strategic countries for the world's largest platform. How did you manage that?
Simply if you want to have a powerful country, you need to have a powerful user. So what I’ve done and what we’ve done in the team was to really teach the user how to use the platform, teach them how to use the product and let them have a good choice in their hand. What we wanted is – if you understand the technology and if you understand how it works, and if you understand what you do – you do better decisions. Then you can move farther away on the staff. A power user, as I call it, is someone, who understands the platform, if the platform is modified, he already can see that. The more power users you have, the more you have a base of users, who can educate the other ones. This is important, because, you know, as we say – block chain and cypto is first a matter of community. So if you have some elements inside the community that can advise the users or give them some good ideas and knowledge, then this knowledge can spread very fast. Most complicated was to tech to some, who can then teach others.
BGNES: You have a degree in engineering from Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble and Specialized Master Degree Management de grands projets from HEC Paris. How do you succeed in combing engineering with management of the largest cryptocurrency exchange?
It combines well, because, you know, block chain is a technological and a very fast innovation, and at the same time – it is financial. So, you need to have a little bit of both – and with both those educations I was able to mix, I have the curiosity of the technological background, that enable us to go further into the deep comprehension of what is happening. At the same time, the education at the business school gave me all the foundation of how to create a business, actually, out of this - a big project. But also, you know – how to manage a team, how to gather a team under the same objective with all those kind of skills. You get them into the school and then you nurture them with mentors, as well. Because, you know, my past is not only just the school I have attended – it is the people I have met during my courses and my career. And you know – it is a question of team at the end of the day. Alone – you are limited. Together – you don’t have any limit anymore.
BGNES: I couldn’t just help, but ask you this question, because we should be away from the truth otherwise. Cryptocurrencies have always been a hot topic. Since the inception of Bitcoin and the Block chain technology. Many hopes are invested in them and a lot of – may be not a lot, but some controversies are surrounding the business. How do you manage to “steer the ship” in France and in Europe in this environment?
Not to repeat myself, but you are right – cryptocurrency has been a very hot topic. Bitcoin volatility has been a subject that has been mostly talked about, as bitcoin in ten years was going from a few cents to 20K or 60K and coming back to 27K right now. You know, what is interesting is that even with this very controversial topic, Morgan-Stanley consider it as one of the best assets to invest in – so it is interesting. The second element is that, you know, what we succeeded to do when you go to this kind of investment is if educate properly the users, they can take the right decision. If you do not educate them, they have a high chance to take a wrong decision. And it’s not an advantage to take a wrong decision. We don’t gain any money, when someone loses money. We do not get any money, when someone wins money, but at least we can trade again, and again, and again. So, you know, what we want to do and always want is to listen to what the community says or the community needs to perform out actions better. And then, you know, to try to go there, because the only way for a community to stay is to be at a place, where they feel comfortable. And the platform is that place.
BGNES: Another interesting question, you have probably been asked a lot, but you know Mr. CZ, as he likes to be referred to. He is actually the owner and the main person in Binance – tell us more about him. How did you meet?
He is not my friend - he is my boss! So, I work with him. I had this privilege and this honor. I could learn a lot by working with him. I think, you know, what strikes me the most is the humility that he has. It is very good for a character like me to be managed by a humble person. Why? Because he has set a bar you cannot exceed! And it is a very good learning, you know, and good when you manage a higher position to take humility as a core basis of your managerial style. That is the first one. The second one is also the user focus that he has. He knows the advantage of Binance is that it is a company that is owned by CZ, so we don’t have shareholders to come back to. Therefore, we can take the decisions, based on what we want for the user. And CZ takes the user as a center of this, meaning that when we have to take a decision, we are going to take it pro-user, rather than pro-business most of the time. Why? You know, before it is a business, it is still a community and if you want to run a community, you need a user to be happy. So, I would say that it is very enriching to work, you know, in this atmosphere with so many cultures and to have CZ as a center pillar, that glues the team together. And it works well.
BGNES: What world do you see in 10 years and can crypto change it?
That is a big question. We see a lot of I would say volatility, not only in cryptocurrency, but also in the world. And you know cryptocurrency was a systemic invention to prevent that or to be at least a getaway from that. So we see that in most economical countries with difficulties with the national currency, we see that cryptocurrency is used as an alternative by the population. I think this kind of phenomenon is going to happen more and more. And so basically wherever there is going to be a zone of friction, a zone of complexity, cryptocurrency will be a helper for the population. That’s very important to understand. And so – that’s why we are very much mission-driven and user-driven as you said. And at the end of the end, a platform without users, is not a platform anymore. So what we are here to do is to facilitate the people in their daily life. What their daily life is going to be in 10 years – boy, it is hard to predict the future! But, you know, day by day, we can find solutions.
BGNES: Last question – because you are a prominent business from France and we actually know that France is the inventor of democracy - well, “liberte”! You know, the modern world is based on, part at least of the French legacy. Do you consider cryptocurrency and your work as a way to a kind of a super-modern democratization of the world?
I find that basically with cryptocurrency you have new rules that are in place in the financial world. And what I love about it is the transparency that it creates. You know, me – I am very much for social equality, but, you know, the problem of social equality is the knowledge. If you are born into a rich family, you have quite a knowledge on how the money moves. If you are born in a poor family, you know how to live without a lot of money and to live with few money, but you don’t know how money moves. With that kind of ledger and an open book of cryptocurrency, because you can check all the wallets, you can check all the transactions inside block chain, you can see how money moves from hand to hand and understand the basics of finance without being in this closed world. So, for me – it is an open world that we are creating; open world about the financial system. That is very important, because right now, money does not make you happy and that is totally true. But, you know, absence of money does not make you happy, as well. What you want is an equality of chance, is to know that people start from the same ground and this is a bank knowledge. What I like about cryptocurrency is that make the black box of the financial system to disappear. That is what excites me. /BGNES