The information on this page should not be used as investment advice. Tom's Guide can not tell you whether you should invest in a particular cryptocurrency, or in the market as a whole. Crypto prices can go down as well as up and you could get back less than you put in.
If you're wondering 'What is Binance Coin?' that's probably because you've seen it riding high in the list of top cryptocurrency performers in recent months.
Though Bitcoin and Ethereum are still way out in front of all other cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization, Binance Coin (BNB) has cemented itself as their main challenger this year. It's a coin that really has the potential to make it a proper “Big Three.”
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Binance Coin's impressive performance in 2021 has attracted plenty of investors, but if you've reached this page because you're thinking of joining them, it's important to note that it's no more immune from the crypto market's volatile nature than any other coin. Want proof? Well, Binance Coin doubled in price between the start of April and the middle of May, only to fall back to where it started just a week later.
In short, as with all cryptocurrency investments, you should think carefully about whether you could afford to lose all of your money if things were to take a downward turn.
That said, Binance Coin is well worth a closer look even if you just want to find out what it is. Here’s the full story, including how its "burning" system works, its price history, market cap, where to buy it, and the latest news around both the Binance exchange and the coin.
Binance Coin: latest news (updated May 21)
- Binance Coin is recovering after the major crash that affected the entire crypto market on Wednesday (May 19). After dropping below $300 for the first time since March it has currently regrouped to just under $350.
- Binance completed its latest quarterly BNB burn on April 15, removing nearly 1.1 million BNB from circulation.
- The firm is reportedly under investigation by U.S. agencies regarding potential money laundering and tax evasion concerns.
What is Binance Coin (BNB)?
In order to understand Binance Coin you first need to know about Binance.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange (opens in new tab) based on market cap, Binance typically moves about three times the amount of crypto as the next-leading platform on a daily basis. It's huge.
Binance Coin — or BNB — was established in 2017 as an Ethereum-based token, both to give users the option to save on fees and to help fund Binance’s expansion. However, as Binance’s ambitions grew, the firm relaunched BNB as a coin running on its own Binance Chain blockchain, and allowed users to swap their old coins for new ones.
It's skyrocketed in value in 2021, thanks in part to Binance’s own rising popularity and the wider crypto market growth and also due to Binance’s aggressive coin “burning” schedule.
Now at the heart of all of Binance’s initiatives, BNB can be used on the exchange to swap for other cryptocurrencies and pay transaction fees, used for decentralized apps (dapps) that run on the firm’s growing Binance Smart Chain (opens in new tab), and even spent at some external websites that support crypto payments via BNB. Users can also “stake” their coins within a Binance wallet to earn rewards in the form of additional BNB.
Binance Coin price history and market cap
As of this writing, Binance Coin is available for $343 per coin, a decline of 50% from the all-time high of $690 set earlier in May 2021. This is part of a market-wide slump that has taken place the last few days, and top coins like Ethereum and Bitcoin are also well off their peak prices.
Even so, Binance Coin has seen incredible growth so far in 2021, jumping from a price of about $38 on January 1 to where it sits today. Anyone who bought into BNB earlier this year or even beforehand has seen some of the most impressive gains of any cryptocurrency so far this year, save for wild cards such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.
Binance continues to grow as an exchange due to increased mainstream interest in crypto, plus its Binance Smart Chain is drawing in more and more developers — and thus, more and more users. Meanwhile, Binance’s quarterly burn seems to light a fire under the price of the coin, rewarding those who hold BNB. It has been mostly onward and upward so far in 2021, although the recent report that U.S. governmental agencies are investigating Binance could make some prospective investors wary of jumping in.
In terms of market capitalization, Binance Coin is currently valued at around $58 billion. That puts it some way behind Ethereum at $308 billion and a long, long way behind Bitcoin at $760 billion — but given that it was below $6 billion as recently as January, it's still made seriously impressive progress this year.
Binance Coin burning
Every quarter, Binance takes 20% of its profits and buys up a bunch of BNB strictly with the intention to “burn” or destroy the coins, thus reducing its supply.
This is seen as a key reason why Binance Coin has continually surged in value, and each quarterly burn has surged in value to date. The latest burn, completed in April 2021 (opens in new tab), saw Binance burn almost 1.1 million BNB, which was worth $595 million at the time of the transaction.
How can I buy Binance Coin?
As we noted above, anyone thinking of buying Binance Coin, or any cryptocurrency, should think carefully before doing so.
If you do decide to invest, then — unsurprisingly — Binance is your top destination for buying and trading BNB. As CoinMarketCap (opens in new tab) shows, Binance offers more than 100 different trading pairs for BNB, so you should be able to trade anything you might hold within the exchange.
If you’re in the United States, then you’ll need to use Binance.US instead of the main Binance site. The Binance DEX decentralized exchange also offers BNB.
Some other exchanges also accept BNB, such as FTX, KuCoin, and Gate.io, but you won’t find Binance Coin at competing exchange Coinbase, for example.
Is Binance Coin the same as BUSD?
It’s not! Binance USD (opens in new tab) (BUSD) is actually a "stablecoin" (a coin pegged to a traditional currency) developed in partnership with Paxos, which also offers its own PAX stablecoin. BUSD is pegged to the price of a U.S. Dollar, so it is always around $1.00 in price, and it’s also 100% backed by USD held within U.S. banks.
While BNB has appreciated in price dramatically since the start of 2021, BUSD will always be about the same price. It’s stabilized for use in transactions or as an intermediary when switching between different cryptocurrencies.
What is Binance Smart Chain?
Binance Smart Chain (BSC) is the exchange’s blockchain platform for developers to create apps and services on, and it runs parallel to the regular Binance Chain. BNB can be used across both blockchains. While the average user doesn’t need to know all of the nitty-gritty details about how Binance Smart Chain works, it’s worth knowing why it’s important.
Essentially, Binance Smart Chain is a smart contract platform that developers can use to launch apps such as decentralized finance services, non-fungible token (NFT) collections, yield farming, decentralized exchanges (DEXs), and more. It’s an alternative to Ethereum and other blockchain platforms that offer smart contracts, and it’s growing fast. A DEX called PancakeSwap (opens in new tab) is currently BSC’s most popular dapp, with some $10 billion in 24-hour trading volume (opens in new tab) as of this writing.
In April 2021, the firm reported a high of 4.9 million daily transactions, or 300% more than the oft-congested Ethereum has managed within a single day. Increased adoption by developers will lead to more services and apps that pull in users, which should increase use cases for BNB and perhaps boost the long-term price even further.
Andrew Hayward is a writer and editor based in Chicago. His work covering tech, crypto, games, and esports has appeared in more than 100 publications around the world, including Polygon, Rolling Stone, Decrypt, and Stuff. He has covered cryptocurrency extensively since 2019, including coins, crypto games, and NFTs, and interviewed many creators and prominent figures in the space. He has also personally invested in several coins and currently holds less than 1 BTC, 2 ETH, and 700 ADA, along with smaller amounts of other coins. View all articles by Andrew here (opens in new tab).