Binance Releases Proof of Reserve System – Kraken CEO Unsatisfied

In the wake of the collapse of FTX, cryptocurrency exchanges are rushing to convince customers that they’re safe and not likely to suddenly collapse — at least not in the next few weeks. Recently large exchanges like and Kraken have released proof of their reserves, and now Binance is following suit. 

Last Friday, Binance announced its new proof of reserve system, which allows customers to verify that their funds have been included in the proof of reserves report by querying data in a Merkle tree. Binance claims this proves that customer funds are held on a full-reserve basis.

However, Binance’s new system has been met with criticism by the CEO of rival crypto exchange Kraken, Jesse Powell.

Powell referred to the system as “hand wavey bullshit” that provides nothing more than a cryptographic hash of an entry in a spreadsheet, which does nothing to show that Binance holds more assets than it owes.


Powell’s Criticism Explained

Powell said a meaningful proof of reserve audit must include all client liabilities with negative balances excluded, user-verifiable cryptographic proof that all accounts have been included in the audit, and cryptographic signatures verifying the exchange’s control over the wallets containing the assets.

Without this information, Powell said proofs of reserve such as those released by Binance are “worthless” and tell users nothing of value about an exchange’s financial position.

Powell’s Kraken exchange has implemented a similar Merkle tree-based proof of reserve system that he claims is more rigorous than that offered by Binance. However Kraken does acknowledge its system has some shortcomings of its own. 

Crypto Journalists Cop It

Binance wasn’t the only target in Powell’s sights: he also took aim at crypto journalists for failing to understand the flaws in Binance’s system.

Previously, Powell had criticised the Binance-owned crypto tracking website, CoinMarketCap, for its implementation of its new proof of reserves feature, which he says simply includes a list of wallets and does nothing to clarify if an exchange has more assets than liabilities. 

Jody McDonald

Jody McDonald

Jody is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who specialises in writing about business, technology, and the future of work.

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