Crypto’s return puts ‘no-coiner’ critics in an awkward spot

The last three months have been good to everyone in the crypto world as the price of Bitcoin has shot past $40,000—it is currently hovering near $44,000—for a year-to-date gain of around 170%, and as the industry shows it is about more than crime and scandal. Well, good to everyone except the no-coiners.

The term is industry lingo for one of the tribes who inhabit their world alongside the likes of Bitcoin maxis and the XRP Army (crypto people have their own vocabulary for nearly everything). As the name suggests, no-coiners are those who don’t hold any cryptocurrencies and loudly advise others to do the same. Their position is based in the belief that crypto is fundamentally stupid or criminal or both.

Since the collapse of the Web 3 bubble in early 2022, the no-coiners have had plenty of evidence to validate their position—from the implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud empire to the collapse of many blockchain projects built entirely around greed and hype. Hating on crypto has even become a cottage industry of sorts, allowing authors to build a brand based on their contempt for it.

These include computer scientist Molly White, who has become a sought-after figure in the tech world thanks to her snarky “Web3 is going just great” blog, and programmer Stephen Diehl whose essays offer withering takedowns of the ideology driving crypto. There are also authors like Bloomberg’s Zack Faux, whose funny-but-lazy book Number Go Up was perfectly timed with the trough of the recent bust.

Until recently, the no-coiners have been taking ceaseless victory laps on Twitter, holding up every price drop and scandal as more evidence of their position. The problem now of course is that Number Is Going Up, and that the crypto industry has proven to be resilient despite relentless hostility from the U.S. government and much of the media. And while the recent surge in prices has been driven in part by the usual cast of hucksters and speculators, it has also been powered by the likes of BlackRock embracing crypto and the ongoing adoption of blockchain technology by banks and others.

These developments, though, are unlikely to sway the no-coiners who have built their public personas around hating crypto. Those I named above are very smart people who offer valuable critiques, but at this point they also come across as obsessive—in Diehl’s case, he has published literally dozens of essays railing about crypto. And some others are just not very pleasant in the first place. In the last year, I’ve had to use the block button on Twitter to help tune out no-coiner fanatics who have the time to harangue me for writing about crypto in a way that doesn’t constantly denounce it.

Ironically, the worst of the no-coiners resemble the same sort of weirdo crypto cultists who they criticize. It also seems like a dreary way to spend one’s days hating on something—it’s hard to imagine that no-coiners would be much fun at your dinner party. But like the many other tribes who make up the colorful crypto world, they do their part to keep things interesting.

Jeff John Roberts


Asset management giants Vanguard and State Street are sitting out the race to issue Bitcoin ETFs, even as big competitors like BlackRock and Fidelity dive in. (Bloomberg)

Jack Dorsey’s payment company Block launched pre-orders for its Bitcoin hardware wallet, priced at $150, in 95 countries. (Fortune)

Montenegro said it will send Terra founder Do Kwon to the U.S. rather than South Korea to face charges over his massive fraud. (WSJ)

Binance’s Changpeng Zhao must stay in the U.S. as he awaits his February sentencing hearing after a U.S. judge said his immense wealth and ties to the U.A.E. make him a flight risk. (Fortune)

Ethereum and Solana hit 19-month highs as alt-coins have begun to acquire the same price momentum as Bitcoin. (CoinDesk)


“SBF watching Bitcoin rally 170% YTD”


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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao must stay in the U.S. for sentencing, judge rules

A federal judge in Seattle ruled on Wednesday afternoon that the founder and former CEO of Binance, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to money laundering charges, must remain in the country.

The order came after the Justice Department appealed a magistrate judge’s earlier ruling that Changpeng Zhao—known as CZ in the crypto world—could return to the United Arab Emirates pending his sentencing hearing scheduled for February.

In his Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones wrote that it was unusual to overturn a magistrate judge’s pre-sentencing ruling, but that he had been persuaded by the Justice Department’s argument Zhao was a flight risk. Jones noted that the $175 million bond posted by Zhao was “substantial if not unprecedented” but that the Binance founder’s immense wealth meant he might be willing to forfeit the bond in return for his freedom.

“The government’s fear is supported by its belief that the vast majority of the defendant’s wealth is held overseas and the belief that he has access to hundreds of millions of dollars in accessible cryptocurrency,” wrote Jones.

Zhao is facing a maximum of 18 months in prison over the money laundering charges, which stem from Binance’s allegedly during a blind eye to criminal transactions on its platforms. In one of the largest corporate fines in U.S. history, Binance last month agreed to pay over $4 billion to settle the charges while Zhao agreed to pay $50 million personally.

Zhao, who long treated Binance as a stateless entity, is a citizen of Canada where he moved when he was 12 years old, but no longer has ties to the country. In his ruling, Jones cited an unverified claim by the Justice Department that Zhao was offered citizenship by the UAE as further evidence he might be a flight risk—and would avail himself of the country’s lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S. The judge also emphasized that Zhao is a “multi-billionaire” and that his family resides in the UAE.

Jones did, however, state that Zhao posted no danger to the community and that he could remain at liberty pending his February sentencing hearing—provided he remain in the continental United States.

Zhao did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the ruling or whether he would file an appeal.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

Tether CEO defies his critics—and he has a point

Tether is one of the most important companies in crypto and also one of the most notorious. Its business is going gangbusters as its namesake stablecoin has swollen to over $90 billion in market value, which lets Tether make fat margins in his era of 5.5% Fed rates. But despite this success, the company is still a villain to many who complain of its slippery morals and lack of transparency.

That’s why it was interesting to hear firsthand from Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino who joined us for Fortune’s Q&A-style Future of Finance series. He shared details about learning to code at the age of eight in his native Italy, and and how he first came to view Bitcoin as a superior form of financial technology. But the most intriguing part of me is what he said about his critics:

“Everyone was supporting FTX—as everyone was cheering for Celsius, for BlockFi, for Voyager, and Genesis, and all the companies that went down in 2022. Even this year, three banks, four banks, Silicon Valley Bank, Signature, Silvergate, and also Credit Suisse, they went bust. So when I hear bankers pointing the finger at us, when I hear other people in the crypto industry pointing the finger at us, I always remind them about what’s happened. They should look in their own house before pointing the finger at us.”

Regardless of how you view Tether, it’s hard not to read this and think “well, the guy has a point.” Even as once-reputable companies in crypto and banking got washed away in the last year, Adroino’s firm has demonstrated remarkable staying power. And given that stablecoins pay no interest to customers, Tether is likely stronger than ever in this high interest environment.

As for competition, the company’s nearest rival is Circle where growth has sputtered to the point where its $24 billion of USDC is worth barely more than a quarter’s of Tether’s stash. Part of this is because Circle must compete with one-hand tied behind its back since, unlike Tether, it has to follow U.S. regulations and try to screen out dodgy clients. But Circle’s runner-up status is also because of its ill-advised decision to park a big chunk of its reserves at Silicon Valley Bank, which triggered a crisis of confidence in USDC.

The other thing that jumped out from the Q&A was Ardoino’s comments on Tether’s murky auditing practices, which has seen it rely on off-brand “attestations” rather than a conventional sign-offs from one of the Big 4. Ardoino says he has tried his best to get a big league audit, but that accounting firms won’t touch Tether because the U.S. government has warned them to stay away from crypto firms.

Ardoino’s explanation is reasonable and, for now at least, there’s no reason to suspect Tether lacks the reserves to back its stablecoins—though in the past those reserves have contained large chunks of Chinese commercial paper and god knows what else. Meanwhile, the company has had little to say about the popularity of its stablecoin with Chinese “pig butchering” scammers, and other faraway rogues. If Tether wants to enjoy the respect Adroino believes it deserves, the company needs to start purging these bad actors, and elevating its moral standards to the level of its business performance.

Jeff John Roberts


Robinhood launched crypto trading in the EU with 26 tokens, including some like Solana it had to delist in the U.S. (Fortune)

The abrupt rise in the price of Bitcoin, which is trading near $44,000, wiped out $90 million in futures bets against it. (WSJ)

Worldcoin, the controversial eye-scanning project backed by Sam Altman, announced a development road map that includes more decentralization. (Fortune)

Last night’s GOP debate included a question for Vivek Ramaswamy, who thinks 9/11 and Jan. 6 might be inside jobs, about his crypto policy and plans for the SEC. (CoinDesk)

Bitcoin financial firm Swan raised $40 million to expand lending and other offerings in the institutional sector. (Fortune)


“An exchange for trading illiquid coins of now defunct projects”


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Jamie Dimon blasts crypto, tells Senate he would ‘close it down’—even as JPMorgan pushes forward with blockchain payments

In 2017, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase blasted Bitcoin as “worse than tulip bulbs” and ranted that he would fire anyone at his bank who traded it for being stupid. This was followed by other tirades, including one in January where he labeled Bitcoin a “hyped-up fraud” and compared it to a pet rock.

On Wednesday, Dimon was at it again, telling the Senate Banking Committee, “If I was the government, I’d close it down,” suggesting it has no legitimate application.

“I’ve always been deeply opposed to crypto, Bitcoin etc. You pointed out the true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, anti-money laundering, tax avoidance, and that is a use case because it is somewhat anonymous,” he told the committee chair, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another outspoken critic of the sector.

Dimon’s comment came after Warren observed that big banks all oversee systems to screen for terrorists, and claimed that nefarious actors like Hamas and Iran had turned to crypto as a means of subverting the Bank Secrecy Act—an allegation the crypto industry argues is badly overstated.

The hearing, which also featured the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, and other big banks, was a scheduled event titled Annual Oversight of Wall Street Firms.

One of crypto’s most famous critics, alongside billionaire Warren Buffett, who once described it as “rat poison squared,” Dimon made his latest remark as crypto markets appear to have shaken off the scandals of 2022 and entered another full-throated bull market. Bitcoin, which began the year around $17,000, was trading near $44,000 on Wednesday.

There is some irony, however, to Dimon’s strident anti-crypto position since his bank has quietly become of one Wall Street’s leading innovators when it comes to blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that undergirds Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

JPMorgan’s innovations include “JPM Coin,” a digital token that is transferred on a version of the Ethereum blockchain. Created in 2017, the coin has taken off among corporate clients—including FedEx and Siemens—as a fast, safe, and low-cost way to transfer large sums. Last month, the bank disclosed that the value of daily transactions involving JPM Coin now tops $1 billion.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

Coinbase Wallet lets users send stablecoins for free on messaging apps like WhatsApp and iMessage

The texting feature is part of a broader effort by the crypto giant to make Coinbase Wallet—a decentralized product distinct from the custodial “wallet” people use on its exchange—more useful to a broader base of people.

In an interview with Fortune, the head of Coinbase Wallet, Chintan Turakhia, said the ability to send money by text was part of the company’s vision of “economic freedom.” This also includes letting users send the USDC stablecoin to each other at no cost.

While customers can already send USDC (which Coinbase jointly owns with Circle) on Coinbase Wallet for no charge, they must know the name of the recipient’s wallet address. The new texting feature eliminates that requirement and, for practical purposes, makes it much easier to add money when texting a friend or family member in another country.

For those receiving the USDC by text, the link opens directly in Coinbase Wallet and, if the person doesn’t have one, they receive a one-click prompt to install the app and receive their money (if they don’t open it in two weeks, the funds revert to the sender). Below is an image of the service in action—you can watch it step-by-step on a company blog post:

One notable feature about Coinbase Wallet is that, since it’s a piece of software that places control over private keys (passwords to unlock the wallet) with the user, there is no “know your customer” process that must be completed before using it.

While this sounds like it could spell regulatory trouble, Coinbase says it is the users, not the company who have ultimate control, over the funds—meaning the activity is outside of the scope of its responsibility. Coinbase added its primary approach to bad actors in this context is to block Coinbase Wallet usage in regions under sanction by the Treasury Department.

Meanwhile, the company has also rolled out a “simple mode” for Coinbase Wallet that eliminated more complex tools, and strips the service down to its core functions of sending and receiving money

In addition to USDC, Coinbase Wallet users will also be able to use the new messaging feature to send Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But doing so will oblige customers to pay network fees that in some cases can exceed the value of the transaction, or else transact on a so-called Layer 2 blockchain, which introduces additional complexity.

Coinbase also stated that it now supports fiat onramps—banking services that let users move money in and out of the crypto ecosystem—in over 130 countries. The combination of this access along with the easy-to-use messaging service could help increase the popularity of crypto as a rapid cross-border payment solution—a long-time aspiration of Coinbase and the crypto industry that has been slow to take off in practice.

The new Coinbase Wallet features will start rolling out on Tuesday and be available to everyone by the end of the week.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

Coinbase CEO trolls Google over ‘all-hands’ ban in latest Silicon Valley culture clash

A venture capitalist named Ben Casnocha shared a story on X last week about a friend at Google who was pulled aside by his manager and told not to use the term “all-hands”—common corporate speak for a meeting involving everyone on a company or a team. The reason? The term is insensitive because not everyone has hands. A spokesperson at Google confirmed the anecdote to Fortune, explaining it amounted to a “manager giving guidance to their team based on ongoing conversations around inclusion.”

Casnocha’s tweet received considerable attention, including from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong who retweeted with the comment, “If you want to work at a company that won’t bother you with this nonsense, consider applying for a role @coinbase. We just focus on building great products and updating the global financial system with crypto.”

In an email to Fortune, Coinbase’s chief people officer L.J. Brock explained the tweet by saying the company wants a workplace “free from distraction,” and that telegraphing its culture has been an effective tool in recruiting talent. But beyond the HR niceties put forth by the companies’ executives, there is also something much bigger going on—and how you view the controversy will depend on which view you have of politics and culture in Silicon Valley.

One view holds that Google’s “all-hands” suggestion is just a gentle extension of a longtime effort by the company—along with the likes of other tech firms like Facebook and Microsoft—to ensure everyone who works there is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Words matter and there are terms from the past many of us don’t use anymore—it’s not hard to think of examples—because they are denigrating and hurtful. And frankly few of us miss them.

The other view is that DEI programs have run amok, and given rise to a cadre of fanatics who delight in scouring the workplace for any verbal transgressions. Anyone who fails to toe the line on correct language—as determined by the Ivy League cultural hot houses from which they graduated—needs to be re-educated. This can take the form of forced diversity training (despite the ample evidence it doesn’t work) or by siccing a social media mob on the miscreant. Even when the DEI overlords reach too far—as with Stanford’s widely-ridiculed “harmful language initiative“—they are unlikely to acknowledge it, and instead conclude any criticism of their efforts is rooted in racism.

You hear this second view in Silicon View far more often than you did a few years ago, in particular from Armstrong and others in the crypto world who have become more emboldened in challenging the corporate orthodoxies of Big Tech. This can be refreshing at a time when many people are exhausted by virtue signaling in the workplace and just want to do their jobs. But there is also a risk that anti-DEI figures like Armstrong will fail to recognize that “free from distraction” is a political agenda in its own right, and can serve to alienate employees who do not look or act like them.

In a perfect world, the leaders of Google and Coinbase would sit down and come up with workplace policies that encourage inclusion without silly excesses like banning “all-hands.” Alas, that’s not the world we live in, so the debate will instead take the form of sniping on social media.

Jeff John Roberts


El Salvador‘s President crowed that, with Bitcoin crossing above $40,000, the nation’s crypto investments are back in the black. (WSJ)

Analysts are jumping back on the crypto hype bandwagon, with some predicting Bitcoin will the break $100,000 next year. (CNBC)

The IRS‘s criminal investigation division has launched a wave of crypto-related tax probes, which now amount to a much bigger part of the unit’s duties. (Bloomberg

The price of crypto related stocks, notably Coinbase and Microstrategy, continue to rise amidst the ongoing bull run. (CoinDesk)

Crypto trading volumes on Robinhood rose 75% in November over the previous month. (WSJ)


The $40,000 victory lap continues:

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Bitcoin hits $40,000 and some worry that could be a signal to scammers

Let the good times roll. After being stuck near the $38,000 marker for weeks, Bitcoin soared more than 5% on Sunday as it crossed $40,000 for the first time since April of 2022. While this is still a ways from the currency’s all-time high, the return of $40,000 Bitcoin is a significant psychological milestone and has triggered a wave of digital back-slapping on the echo chamber known as Crypto Twitter, where too many of us spend far too much time.

The glee over $40,000 was tempered by warnings, however. Some longtime crypto watchers warned the recent price action will bring about the full-blown return of the hucksters and scammers who made the industry so notorious in the past. Crypto journalist and Fortune alum David Z. Morris put it this way: “Hope you guys enjoyed chilling, once we cross $40k the normies will be back and things will get stupid and mostly bad again. If history teaches us anything, the enforcement actions of the past two years will mean exactly nothing because a whole new crop of morons will arrive.”

Morris wasn’t the only one making this observation. And it’s a fair concern since previous booms have gone like this: Bitcoin goes on a run, leading to buzz on social media, which pulls in a new crop of green investors, 95% of whom eschew any basic research as they try to get a piece of the new thing. It’s not long before a good number of them stray beyond the confines of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the handful of other reputable cryptocurrencies and—egged on by financial predators—purchase an “up-and-coming” token instead. Months later they find themselves holding a near worthless pool of BARF tokens and cursing the gym trainer or YouTube guy (hey there, Lark!) who persuaded them to set their modest savings on fire in the first place.

I have no doubt these forces are already revving up and, if Bitcoin approaches its all-time high of $68,000, the con artists will return en masse. But I’m not quite as cynical as Morris. Despite the here-we-go-again sensation, there are three reasons to think this latest crypto bull market will be less driven by scams as the previous ones.

The first is regulators. Unlike the booms of 2017 and 2021, when the SEC and others sleep-walked through mind-boggling frauds, the agencies are hovering like a bad-tempered hawk looking to shred anything that even smells like crypto. Second is the industry itself. Those left standing, including Coinbase and some of the better venture capitalists, are sick of being pilloried for the sins of the crooks in their midst—and just might be more forceful in denouncing the bad actors. Finally, after the myriad scams of the last go-round, many investors will have learned their lesson and only come back to crypto cautiously, if they come back at all.

“This time it’s different” is usually terrible investment advice (which this is not!), but there’s no denying the crypto industry is older and wiser, which has to count for something. Time will tell if crypto’s worst moments are in the past—or if a new crop of Sam Bankman-Frieds and Do Kwons wait in the wings.

Jeff John Roberts


A federal judge rebuked the SEC in regard to a crypto investigation, asking the agency to explain why it shouldn’t be sanctioned for apparently lying in a recent application for a temporary restraining order. (Fortune)

Circle sent a letter strongly refuting allegations by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) that the company helped finance Hamas and that it has ties to shadowy billionaire Justin Sun. (Unchained)

A report points to a recent proliferation of NFT art and Bitcoin chatter in Williamsburg as a sign crypto sentiment is resurgent in the Brooklyn neighborhood. (Bloomberg)

Celsius announced a new scaled-down plan run by an outfit called US Bitcoin to manage its mining operations as part of its restructuring in bankruptcy. (WSJ)

In a Q&A, Franklin Templeton’s CEO explained her firm’s enthusiasm for blockchain technology, especially its potential to lower transaction costs. (Fortune)


Bitcoin $40K, LFG:


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Vitalik is the public intellectual the tech world needs right now

Vitalik Buterin is best known for creating the world’s second most valuable blockchain, Ethereum, when he was just 19 years old. In the last few years, though, Buterin’s influence has expanded well beyond the world of crypto and into the broader realm of ideas where the young polymath—who taught himself Mandarin while traveling the world—offers important treatises on technology and the future.

The latest example is a 10,000-word essay Buterin published this week titled “My techno-optimism.” It a a response to the much-discussed “manifesto” of a similar title by the influential venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. Buterin’s piece endorses many elements of the manifesto, including an affirmation that technology has delivered marvelous benefits to humanity, and that fear and overzealous regulation have limited progress in fields like biotech. But while he endorses a foot-on-the-gas approach, especially to solve the climate change crisis, Buterin also calls for a more cautious approach when it comes to AI.

While the Ethereum creator has long been a leading thinker in computer science, he has also become a leading thinker when it comes to the governance of technology and society. Here is Buterin on the crack-up at OpenAI and the problem of putting guardrails on technology by means of small councils of elite decision-makers:

“[It was] a well-intentioned effort to balance the need to make a profit to satisfy investors who provide the initial capital with the desire to have a check-and-balance to push against moves that risk OpenAI blowing up the world. In practice, however, their recent attempt to fire Sam Altman makes the structure seem like an abject failure: it centralized power in an undemocratic and unaccountable board of five people, who made key decisions based on secret information and refused to give any details on their reasoning until employees threatened to quit en-masse.”

Drawing on his experience in trying to build decentralized communities in the Ethereum realm, Buterin provides new and important insights into how to think about AI—including how to avoid the very real possibility that humans end up as pets to machine overlords. He is, of course, hardly the only one with big ideas about the future of technology. But what makes Buterin stand apart is his deep capacity for empathy and lack of ego.

Unlike Andreessen and Balaji Srinivasan—another tech genius whose ideas carry a lot of weight in the debate over technology—Buterin doesn’t have contempt for those who disagree with him, and he doesn’t frame the debate in the shrill us-versus-them tone of the venture capital elite.

“I believe that these [technologies] are deeply good, and that expanding humanity’s reach even further to the planets and stars is deeply good, because I believe humanity is deeply good,” he writes. In a troubled moment where too many people are consumed with fear and negativity, it is welcome to read a tech genius who relies on empathetic persuasion. If you want a shorter and more approachable window into Buterin’s worldview, you can also check out this new Fortune Q&A, which includes the moral case for supporting Ukraine and the fascinating sci-fi realm of the popular book and film The Three Body Problem. Have a great weekend.

Jeff John Roberts


Bitcoin bulls are predicting the currency, which is up around 130% in 2023, will end the year at $40,000 even as it has struggled to maintain a consistent foothold above $38,000. (Bloomberg)

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), a GOP House leader, warned about a legal framework for stablecoins based around CBDCs that he says could “swallow up” crypto in a “surveillance security state.” (Fortune)

Polygon secretly gave preferential status to Draft Kings in the form of millions of dollars worth of subsidies to a validator run by the sports betting site—an effort that is now kaput. (Coindesk)

A new survey of the Bitcoin mining industry raises concerns about its use of water, which it claims is about equal to the annual consumption of Washington, D.C. (The Verge)

Amid a broader reckoning in the VC industry, Tiger Global slashed valuations in its venture fund, including markdowns of 94% to OpenSea and 64% to Bored Ape Yacht Club. (Bloomberg)


One version of the future:

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Abu Dhabi and Asia shows crypto is charging ahead—with or without the United States

Good morning from Los Angeles. I’ve just returned from the United Arab Emirates where I joined my Fortune colleagues in hosting Fortune Global Forum, a remarkable event that brought together the likes of hedge fund titan Ray Dalio, the CEO of McLaren Racing, and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was eye-opening to visit a tiny country that has emerged as a key intersection of east and west, and whose leaders are busy investing its massive petroleum wealth in other sectors to diversify the economy.

Abu Dhabi—one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE—is betting hundreds of billions on artificial intelligence projects, and has stood up an economic “free zone” for international commerce. This free zone, known as ADGM, offers streamlined licensing regimes and, to my surprise, the wholesale incorporation of British common law to offer predictability and govern commercial disputes. The ADGM also oversees Abu Dhabi’s virtual asset regime, which has offered clear rules for crypto since 2017. The crypto regime is not just something that sits on a shelf—a fellow conference attendee told me she had bought an apartment with Bitcoin in neighboring Dubai and that it’s easy to use crypto for a wide variety of transactions across the UAE.

The Middle East, of course, is hardly the only place to clear the path for wide scale crypto adoption. Asian countries like Singapore and Japan have introduced laws to integrate virtual assets into their economies while protecting consumers, and the EU has recently done the same. Then there is Hong Kong, which is embracing crypto not only for commercial reasons but for geopolitical ones too.

The Financial Times recently made a convincing case that the Chinese Communist Party is using Hong Kong’s new virtual asset regime—which includes a requirement for certain banks to accept crypto—as part of a larger strategy to undermine U.S. control of the dollar.

“The best ‘new’ money is here: digital dollar stablecoins and other tokenised crypto pseudocurrencies. Unlike the ‘old’ dollar—easily regulated, tracked, and tethered to Washington, D.C.—offshore crypto transfer systems operate outside the extant global regulatory net. They’re effectively stateless,” the FT observes. This is a bad thing thing for the U.S. as the spread of unregulated stablecoins in Asia will diminish the importance of legacy money transfer systems like SWIFT, which the U.S. can control.

The question is how the U.S. intends to respond to all this. Currently, the Biden Administration’s response has been to try and stifle crypto through zealous SEC enforcement, and by throwing sand in the gears of any legislation that seeks to expand the use of stablecoins. This is understandable as the country’s control over the dollar—and more specifically the ways that dollar can move around—helps America project power around the globe.

This sort of dollar diplomacy is not a bad thing, especially at a time when China is regressing into a Mao-style dictatorship. And while Abu Dhabi’s economic free zone is a clever idea, the country has a ways to go when it comes to other types of freedom—which will hopefully blossom in time. The problem for the U.S. is that it doesn’t have the power to stop crypto. Blockchain technology is a superior technology for moving money around and history has shown again and again that, you can’t put new technologies back in the bottle. Instead of seeking to smother crypto, the White House needs to make the U.S. a leader when it comes to digital assets—especially as it’s become clear the rest of the world is moving forward with crypto whether the U.S. likes it or not.

Jeff John Roberts


SoFi, under pressure from the Fed, is forcing all of its crypto customers to move their accounts to in coming weeks or else see their assets will be converted to cash. (Fortune)

Warren Buffett’s sidekick Charlie Munger, who has died at 99, was known for one-liners, including ones skewering Bitcoin as “noxious poison” and crypto as “partly fraud and partly delusion.” (Bloomberg)

The Treasury Department sanctioned the crypto mixer Sinbad, alleging North Korea had used the service to launder hundreds of millions of dollars it has stolen in crypto hacks. (Fortune)

A study of Web3 games shows the average annual failure rate is over 80% for the past several years, casting doubt on the viability of the industry’s “play-to-earn” model. (CoinTelegraph)

Billionaire Mike Novogratz, citing the impending arrival of crypto ETFs, predicted Bitcoin could return to its all-time high of $69K by this time next year (Bloomberg)


Stay classy, crypto folks:

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Grayscale’s ‘uplist’ plan adds to intrigue over Bitcoin ETF

Finance spawns a lot of weird and wonky words and, while I’ve at least heard of most of them, “uplist” is a new one for me. I encountered it while poking into crypto giant Grayscale’s bid to be first out of the gate with a Bitcoin ETF—an achievement that would likely help the crypto giant nab the lion share of a new market expected to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

While other firms, notably BlackRock and Fidelity, are seeking a similar prize, Grayscale is the only one in position to do it by means of an uplist. The term refers to moving a securities listing from an off-brand stock exchange onto a mainstream one. In Grayscale’s case this would mean moving its GBTC shares from something called OTCQX to the familiar confines of the NYSE, while at the same time converting its jerry-rigged trust product to a regular old ETF.

A source at Grayscale tells me that launching via an uplist means the firm could bring its ETF to market slightly quicker than its competitors—a critical advantage since, historically, the first ETF in a given field sucks up most of the liquidity. I have no idea if this will happen (and would point any diehards to the X feeds of Bloomberg ETF guys Eric Balchunas and James Seyffert or lawyer Scott Johnnson). But it does underscore how much is at stake with the long-awaited arrival of the Bitcoin ETFs, which are widely expected to drop in early January based on the whims of the SEC.

Meanwhile, there are other wildcards surrounding Grayscale’s ETF bid, including what fees the company plans to charge. It’s a safe bet the fee will be lower than the 2% that the company has long charged for GBTC, especially as one of its competitors in the ETF race, ARK Invest, says it will charge 0.8%. Competitive dynamics suggest Grayscale would have to match that rate, but the reality is the firm is likely to charge more since most customers tempted to exchange Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF for a competitor’s would set off a tax tripwire—meaning many will choose to to grit their teeth and hold instead.

The final wildcard in all this is how many of those currently holding GBTC shares will simply dump them once the ETF drops, and ditch the Bitcoin game altogether. Recall that a sizable group of investors bought Grayscale shares as an arbitrage when they were trading far below the price of Bitcoin in hopes the gap would close. That has happened—the so-called discount has closed from over 40% to 8% and is likely to disappear altogether—meaning some investors are going to take their crypto profits and go take a flyer on AI or something else totally unrelated. JPMorgan recently predicted outflows will amount to around $2.7 billion.

All of this just conjecture for now. But January—and some real answers—are only weeks away. Stay tuned.

Jeff John Roberts


A U.S. judge has for now refused to let Binance’s former CEO return to the United Arab Emirates ahead of his sentencing date in February, and will likely make a decision in coming days. (Bloomberg)

The price of several large alt-coins, including SUI and Optimism, tumbled ahead of impending “unlock” events that will see a glut of new tokens enter the market. (CoinDesk)

Tom Emmers (R-MN), an influential GOP Congressman, said the recent DOJ charges against Binance prove the U.S. doesn’t need new crypto laws—a stance that could bode ill for pending stablecoin bills. (Fortune)

Star author and Sam Bankman-Fried acolyte Michael Lewis is under fire for comparing reporters covering the trial of the convicted fraudster to those attending a lynching party. (Puck)

Coinbase shares have soared 18% following criminal charges against Binance, which led CEO Brian Armstrong to take a victory lap in the media. (Fortune)


What happened to you, Michael Lewis?

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Binance’s new CEO on the post-CZ era and what comes next

Good morning from Abu Dhabi, where Fortune is holding its flagship Global Forum event for CEOs, and where I sat down with Richard Teng, who just stepped into the hardest chief executive job of anyone in crypto—or possibly any other sector for that matter. Teng has the top job at Binance, which until last week was held by the company’s charismatic founder, Chengpeng Zhao—know to crypto folks as CZ.

It’s never an easy job to replace a founding CEO since founders exert such a huge influence on a company’s culture. I can think of examples where this worked, including Apple, where Tim Cook didn’t try to replicate Steve Jobs’ brilliance at product and design, but instead crafted a less dazzling strategy that played to his own strengths as an operations and supply chain guy.

Teng is looking to do something similar. He is not going to try and be CZ, who built a cult following among crypto geeks with a swashbuckling style and deft product innovation. Instead, Teng is going to tap into his background as a regulator and remake Binance to compete in what he sees as a new era for crypto that will be defined by compliance and institutional money.

This is a sound strategy and Teng will be aided by the fact CZ telegraphed a month ago that the new CEO is his chosen successor and has the support of other top Binance executives. All of this would normally mean that the incoming CEO has a decent chance to keep the company’s hold on its longtime place as the top dog of crypto. But for one thing—the nature of CZ’s departure.

In the ordinary course of things, a founding CEO doesn’t exit the company under a cloud of criminal charges as CZ did. Those circumstances not only mean that Binance must be careful with its cash to pay an eye-popping $4.3 billion criminal fine, but it also deprives Teng of strategic guidance since CZ is barred from having anything to do with the company for three years. Meanwhile, other shoes are set to drop in the form of the SEC’s ongoing lawsuit against Binance, and similar regulatory actions in other companies.

This doesn’t mean Teng can’t pull this off. By his account, Binance is carrying no doubt and its revenues and profits are doing well—and it doesn’t hurt, of course, that crypto markets are finally on an upswing. But it will be an uphill slog to say the least. You can read more in Fortune’s full account of Teng’s first on-the-record interview as CEO.

Jeff John Roberts


The “mini bull market” has brought the return of ill-advised meme-based crypto bets, including on NFT pet rocks and Pepe the Frog (Bloomberg)

Circle entered a partnership with the Tokyo financial and venture firm SBI Holdings to introduce USDC in Japan at a time when interest in stablecoins in the region is surging (Bloomberg)


Crypto bemused by Liz Warren’s warning of a Subway “sandwich monopoly


This is the web version of Fortune Crypto, a daily newsletter on the coins, companies, and people shaping the world of crypto. Sign up for free.

New Binance CEO Richard Teng says firm has ‘robust timeline’ for board, financial disclosures

Richard Teng sits in an oak-colored conference room wearing a blue suit that, with his neatly-cropped salt-and-pepper, make him look every inch the banking regulator he used to be. The new CEO of Binance is friendly but cautious—a far cry from his predecessor, Changpeng Zhao, who last week agreed to step away from the company he founded as part of a $4 billion criminal settlement with the U.S. government.

While Teng’s ascension to CEO has been in the works for months, the task ahead of him is enormous and would tax even the most seasoned senior executive. In the coming days, he must reinvent a corporate culture that has long been defined by Zhao—a charismatic outlaw, known universally as CZ, who delighted in trolling regulators and his critics with defiant social media posts. Meanwhile, Teng must also find a way to ensure that Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange, can stay competitive as it navigates both a colossal financial sanction and a U.S. government monitor that will be embedded in its operations as part of the settlement.

Getting past Binance’s ‘missteps’

“Binance is a six year old company—it’s a relatively young company by any measure. In human terminology, it’s a child preparing to go into early school,” says Teng in English that’s fluent but that he learned as a second language in his native Singapore.

Teng adds that Binance is also at the stage of its evolution where it’s pivoting from being an unruly tech startup into a conventional financial company. He admits that Binance made a number of “missteps” in its hypergrowth phase that saw it emerge from nowhere to become world’s biggest crypto firm in the space of a year—but it has learned from them, he says.

Binance’s many critics would likely use a harsher term than missteps to describe the company’s behavior, which led both the firm and Zhao to plead guilty to money laundering and sanctions violations, and earn a televised rebuke last week from both the U.S. Attorney General and the Treasury Secretary. Teng, though, points out that the many allegations laid out in the settlement agreement do not include accusations that Binance misappropriated customer funds, and he touts the company’s long track record of ensuring that assets on its platform stay secure.

Teng is also confident that he will be able to fill the shoes of Zhao, who is currently waiting to learn if he will have to serve prison time and who is barred from having anything to do with Binance in the next three years.

“I need to stress that I have the confidence and trust of CZ, the leadership team, and our staff members for me to lead this very important franchise going forward. And that confidence is very important. I think that transcends the responsibility of our 150 million users, and the livelihood of our 1,000 employees,” says Teng, adding that he has worked closely with Zhao since 2021 and learned from Zhao’s focus on execution and strategy.

As he puts his own stamp on the job, Teng says the evolving role of the crypto industry—which is attracting unprecedented interest from mainstream financial firms like BlackRock and Fidelity—will play to his strengths.

Those strengths include experience advising Singapore’s central bank and helping develop a new financial center in Abu Dhabi where he currently resides. Teng says one of his primary goals will be to help the crypto industry push for the adoption of harmonized global rules like those the banking industry has long enjoyed. This will include resolving the ongoing wrangling over whether various types of digital assets should be classified as a commodity or a security—or something else that reflects the distinct blockchain technology that underpins them.

Teng adds that the industry—and Binance—will benefit from his particular expertise. “I’m the sort of regulator that doesn’t think you can regulate an industry effectively if you do not understand the industry. It’s just like bankers or banking regulators that do not have a bank account.”

Can Binance be transparent?

Teng’s push for an industry focused on compliance and regulation will find support from others in crypto who have long despaired over the rampant fraud and deceit in their ranks—but it’s also a far cry from Binance’s longtime identity as a stateless, and often lawless, enterprise.

While Binance built a massive business and survived the fallout from FTX’s collapse, which wiped out many other crypto firms, its workings have long been a black box. The company has never provided a full accounting of its assets and, under Zhao, radically disbursed its operations to the point where it claimed not to have a headquarters at all.

Asked if Binance will adopt a conventional corporate structure under his leadership, Teng says it will. He says it will include a board of directors, an address, and transparency when it comes to its finances.

“Once you have all those corporate structure in place, I think those financials will be what we’ll be sharing. We’ve all known that auditors [require them], but the regulatory agencies will require all those things as well. So we are committed to transparency as an organization,” said Teng.

Pressed for exactly when Binance will disclose the composition of its board and publish financial statements—in the way its rival Coinbase has for years—Teng declined to provide specifics, but said he has a “robust timeline.”

In the meantime, Teng will also face pressure as more footloose—or outright criminal—customers flee for unregulated exchanges. Indeed, Binance has already seen nearly $1 billion in outflows since the settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, and it looks less dominant than it has for years. Reuters, citing stats from crypto firm CCData, reports that Binance last month controlled 32% of crypto spot and 50% of derivatives trading, down from 55% and 62% respectively in January.

Teng is taking these developments in stride, saying the outflows were predictable as Binance becomes what he says is the first exchange outside the U.S. to impose mandatory know-your-customer requirements on its user base. He added that the company has the resources to stay competitive even as it navigate new regulatory constraints and prepares to pay one of the largest corporate fines in U.S. history.

“We are starting from a position of strength. The fundamentals of the business are extremely strong. Our capital structure is debt free, expenses are models, and our revenue and profits remain robust,” he said.

Teng predicts that Binance’s effort to reinvent itself as a regulated company will pay off in the long run, positioning the company to claim its share of a growing pie as institutional money causes the share of individuals owning crypto to swell to 20% from around 5% today.

Analysis: Binance’s $4 billion plea deal is a victory for the company—but there’s a huge catch

The announcement, accompanied by legal settlements with three different federal agencies, also underscored a dramatic change of fortune for both Binance and Zhao from two years ago. In 2021, the company was reaping billions from a massive speculative bubble, while its CEO delighted in flitting from country to country in an illusory bid to operate beyond the reach of regulators. On Tuesday, that freewheeling era came to an end when a soft-spoken Zhao appeared in federal court in Seattle to bow to U.S. authorities.

Tuesday’s developments mark a big win for the Justice Department, but, paradoxically, they’re also a victory for Binance. Unlike FTX and other fallen crypto titans, Binance will continue to operate and, by all appearances, its former CEO will remain a free main.

This outcome defies the predictions of many who assumed that Binance’s many transgressions—which include turning a blind eye to transactions with rogue regimes like Iran and Russia—would spell its doom. While the massive penalty is a blow to the company’s treasury and the humbling of Zhao undercuts Binance’s longtime edge, the early market response suggests the company will survive.

Many in the industry have long fretted that the criminal charges looming over Binance were a potential black swan event, akin to FTX’s abrupt collapse in a torrent of fraud, that could send Bitcoin back below $10,000 and set crypto back for years to come. But so far, the market has largely shrugged off the day’s dramatic events. As of Tuesday night, Bitcoin was down around 4% over 24 hours, to just under $36,100, while Binance’s native BNB token (a rough approximation of corporate shares) had fallen 12%—a significant amount but hardly earthshaking in the volatile crypto markets.

For now, all indications are that Binance will weather the current storm and be poised to ride a months-long upswing in digital assets markets, which many say will mark the end to an 18-month-long Crypto Winter. If prices largely hold up over the next 48 hours, it’s a good sign that there will be smooth sailing for the foreseeable future—especially as traditional financial giants like BlackRock and Fidelity prepare to enter the market with crypto ETFs in the coming weeks.

In the longer term, however, Binance must navigate a new legal obligation that has the potential to hobble its status as an industry leader.

Corporate culture shock

While Tuesday’s announcements delivered major punishments to both Binance and Zhao, the long-term pain for the company lies in the court-appointed monitors described in settlements from both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department‘s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network division.

Under the terms of the settlement, the monitors will be appointed for three- and five-year terms and enjoy sweeping powers to oversee Binance’s business practices, including how it adds new customers and how it interacts with a range of jurisdictions subject to U.S. sanctions or surveillance. The monitors, who will be chosen from a list supplied by Binance, will enjoy a high degree of autonomy and be required to be experts in the United States’ strict anti-money laundering and sanctions rules. They are also subject to rules that forbid Binance interacting with them for two years or more following the end of their terms—a safeguard to help ensure they’re not influenced by the firm.

The monitors are likely to be a major shock to the corporate culture of Binance, which has for so long been so cavalier that the company—for a time—professed to have no corporate headquarters. Embedded inspectors from the U.S. government will almost certainly prove disruptive and could undercut Binance’s longtime reputation for innovation. All of this is also likely to lead its shadowy customers, who have long favored the platform for its lack of oversight, to flee for less compliant exchanges—indeed, the exchange’s market share already had dipped to about 38% this year from well over 50%.

“It functionally stops them from running the business the way Binance has historically run it,” veteran crypto investor Mike Alfred said on a Twitter Spaces on Tuesday. “It also raised the question of whether they can generate cash to pay all these fines.”

A person close to Binance, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, downplayed such concerns, saying that the settlement marks the start of a new era in crypto that will be marked by compliance—and that Binance’s pact with U.S. regulators puts the firm in position to be a primary beneficiary of this.

It is indeed possible that Binance will be able to reinvent itself as a model corporate citizen of the crypto world, and emerge as a favored forum for mainstream investors. But this is likely to be an uphill fight as the company tries to find its way without its founder and longtime CEO—and as it tries to operate with an agent of the U.S. government looking over its shoulder at every turn.

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What’s behind Binance’s rumored $4 billion settlement

The chess game between Binance and the Justice Department may be heading to an end game. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the parties are discussing a resolution that would see the company pay $4 billion to put an end to its long-running legal troubles with Uncle Sam.

The Bloomberg report is notable because it’s the first news of the Binance investigation in months, and comes half a year after industry insiders were certain the Justice Department was going to drop a legal bomb on the company to follow earlier lawsuits by the SEC and the CFTC. The story is also remarkable because, contrary to earlier reports, it suggests Binance might just come through this alive.

The Justice Department has been leaking like a sieve throughout the investigation, and earlier leaks suggested the consequences would be more dire. While $4 billion would amount to a staggering penalty—one of the biggest corporate fines in history—the Bloomberg report did not repeat earlier rumors that Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, would have to step down as CEO or even serve prison time as part of a settlement.

If the Justice Department is indeed easing up, the question is why. There are a few theories. One is that the agency has mishandled the investigation. One person familiar with the proceedings recently told me that the Binance file was initially handled by “main Justice,” which they described as a bureaucratic blob compared to the agency’s more specialized divisions. Now, even though those divisions—including prosecutors versed in sanctions law—have joined the party, the investigation may now amount to a sprawling mess that the agency just wants to be done with.

Another possibility is that the Justice Department has decided it would be a bad idea to blow Binance up altogether since doing so could cause a financial cataclysm in the crypto markets that spreads to other parts of finance. I’m skeptical of this. The Biden Administration has made clear it would be delighted to see crypto wiped out altogether, while there is a loose consensus among economist types that a crypto meltdown would be unlikely to cause wider contagion.

A final explanation for why the Justice Department may be backing off slightly in its Binance investigation is that Zhao, the company’s CEO, has a few cards to play of his own. Even as the investigation has forced him to retreat from key markets—and to pull Binance staff out of the US altogether—the company is still doing brisk business in Asia and off-shore. Meanwhile, Zhao also has some leverage in the form of Binance’s ability to help track down bad guys using the platform. Even though the company has racked up a phone book’s worth of money laundering violations over the years, it has also helped law enforcement crack down on terrorists in places like Central Asia. All of this means that, if the Justice Department goes all out trying to nail the company to the wall, Zhao could simply walk away and let law enforcement try and figure who owns millions of Binance wallets.

Meanwhile, the recent thaw in crypto winter—which has seen the price of Bitcoin soar and trading volumes rise—has likely translated to more revenue for Binance (even as its overall market share has slipped) and more runway for Zhao to ride out the investigation. Hence the Justice Department may have finally concluded it makes sense to punish Binance severely than to try and kill it off altogether. All of this is mostly speculation, of course, but if you had to bet, it wouldn’t be crazy to predict that Binance and its CEO will survive the investigation—that’s what the markets appear to be doing right now in any case.

Jeff John Roberts


A new SEC lawsuit accuses Kraken of failing to register as an exchange and commingling funds; the exchange says it will fight the charges. (Fortune

Cathie Wood‘s planned Bitcoin ETF will charge a 0.8% fee, which is higher than the 0.7% it proposed earlier and above the average 0.54% for all ETFs. (Bloomberg)

The consumer-friendly wallet Privy, which is behind several buzzy services, raised a $18 million Series A from Paradigm and others. (Fortune)

DCG finally sold CoinDesk to the exchange Bullish, which is backed by EOS money and run by a former NYSE CEO, for an undisclosed amount. (WSJ)

The election of Argentina‘s populist new president means South America now has two Bitcoin-loving leaders. (Fortune)


Your turn, AI:

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Exclusive: Privy, the crypto startup powering buzzy consumer tools, raises $18 million

When Asta Li and Henri Stern decided to launch a Web3 startup, they decided to take a different approach from many others: build stuff consumers actually want to use. The result was Privy, a wallet tool that is powering the likes of Blackbird—a hot new dining service featured in the New York Times—as well as the sports card site Courtyard.

Privy’s approach, which Stern describes as combining the modular and privacy benefits of Web3 with the simple-to-use interface of companies like Facebook, is connecting with consumers but also with investors. On Tuesday, the startup disclosed it has raised an $18 million Series A round led by Paradigm, and with participation from earlier investors including Sequoia Capital.

Privy works with mainstream companies to build blockchain-based services to complement their operations. In the case of Blackbird, launched by the founder of reservation service Resy, independent restaurants use Privy’s wallet tools to stay in touch with customers and offer regulars perks and rewards.

While digital loyalty programs are hardly a new idea, Blackbird’s app relies on cutting-edge crypto technology like private keys to integrate the best features of Web3—notably the ability to control access to data—into familiar, easy-to-use app designs. This includes, the blockchain-based social media app that broke new ground by letting users access Web3 features by using their existing Twitter login.

“Consumer crypto is here—enabled by cheap base-layer fees and an emerging software stack—and we’re excited to back Privy as an essential part of that stack,” Paradigm founder Matt Huang said by email. “My partner Caitlin Pintavorn saw the power of Privy firsthand in her work with FriendTech, and we’re eager to see what creativity Privy can help unleash across the crypto ecosystem.”

Privy also announced on Tuesday that Huang, a former partner at Sequoia Capital and a board member at Stripe, is joining the startup’s board.

An alternative to the ‘Mad Max’ crypto experience

Stern says the idea for Privy came in part from his frustration with the existing Web3 user experience, which has typically forced users to jump through a variety of hoops such as buying “wrapped” versions of digital assets. This raises the question, though, of how exactly Privy plans to improve that experience while also preserving crypto features.

According to Li, Privy’s primary goal is to provide tools that will let clients connect their users to the blockchain regardless of which device or browser they are using—and then let clients decide which crypto-style features to add.

In the case of Blackbird, the “FLY” tokens the restaurant app provides as rewards are managed on an internal system, which makes them more like Starbucks-style points than a crypto product. Stern suggested this may change, citing a paper by Blackbird that suggests it intends to make FLY exchangeable on Ethereum or another blockchain in the future.

Stern acknowledges that the companies using Privy are building “walled garden” experiences fenced off from the broader world of crypto. But he says that’s not necessarily a bad thing given that the broader Web3 world is still rife with predatory scammers.

“People talk a lot about walled gardens. But what’s the universe beyond the garden? The image that comes to mind is the desert from Mad Max Fury Road,” he says, alluding to the post-apocalyptic hellscape from the popular movie franchise.

As an intermediate step between a pure walled garden and the wide-open crypto hellscape, Stern says Privy offers features that will let users “peer over the hedges” and, if they like, use their ability to control their wallet’s private keys as a means to explore. In practice, this could mean eventually spending the tokens they collect at brands selling everything from ice cream to sneakers.

For now, it’s still early days for Privy and it remains to be seen if it will be able to build on the early niches carved out in order to help Web3 break into the consumer mainstream. But for now, the focus on easy-to-use apps appears to be paying off as the startup says it has over 500,000 monthly average users who are moving hundreds of millions of dollars across its wallets.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

OpenAI’s crackup is another black eye for effective altruism

Last November, a red-hot startup founded by a guy named Sam imploded in a massive scandal. Fast forward to this November, and the very same thing happened—though this time, the Sam at the center of it is named Altman, not Bankman-Fried.

The parallel is just a funny coincidence (though not so funny for investors in Altman’s OpenAI, who stand to lose billions after its founder was deposed in a shocking coup on Friday afternoon). And, of course, Altman still holds a godlike status in the tech world while Bankman-Fried awaits a decades-long prison sentence for defrauding clients of his FTX crypto exchange.

Even though the two Sams are wildly different, there’s a notable overlap between the companies they founded: a link to effective altruism, the controversial philanthropic movement that espouses saving humanity through a radical form of utilitarianism. In the case of FTX, Bankman-Fried and his cronies professed devotion to “EA,” but all their high-minded words turned out to be flimflam to justify robbing people. In the case of OpenAI, the situation is more complicated.

For better or worse, the EA crowd has been one of the loudest advocates for putting guardrails on artificial intelligence. Their influence extends to OpenAI, where “at least two of the board members, Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, have ties” to the movement. Meanwhile, it’s not clear if OpenAI cofounder Ilya Sutskever (who reportedly led the coup to depose Altman) is officially in the effective altruism camp—though he certainly seems to have a penchant for cult-like behavior.

“Anticipating the arrival of this all-powerful technology, Sutskever began to behave like a spiritual leader,” reports The Atlantic. “His constant, enthusiastic refrain was “feel the AGI,” a reference to the idea that the company was on the cusp of its ultimate goal. At OpenAI’s 2022 holiday party, held at the California Academy of Sciences, Sutskever led employees in a chant: “Feel the AGI! Feel the AGI!” 

The publication adds that Sutskever “commissioned a wooden effigy from a local artist that was intended to represent an ‘unaligned’ AI—that is, one that does not meet a human’s objectives. He set it on fire to symbolize OpenAI’s commitment to its founding principles.” Let’s just note, for comparison, that in all my time at Fortune I’ve never seen our CEO Alan Murray lead a chant or set an effigy on fire.

It’s hard to know for sure how much effective altruism did or did not contribute to OpenAI’s altruism, but some are already pointing fingers. These includes tech writer James Ball whose critique of the company’s unworkable management structure begins with a heading “It all starts with effective altruism,” as well as Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong who railed, “If this is really some EA, decel, AI safety coup at OpenAI, the board just torched $80B of value, destroyed a shining star of American capitalism, and will be sued to high heaven by investors.”

The full story of what went down at OpenAi is complicated, and new developments are unfolding by the hour as the company appoints a new CEO and Microsoft maneuvers behind the scenes, but it seems a safe bet this latest debacle will make effective altruism even less popular than it is already.

Jeff John Roberts


The price of Worldcoin–the token associated with Sam Altman’s iris-scanning project—dropped on reports of his ouster from OpenAI. (The Block)

A global standards-setting body for securities regulators refused to adopt a bespoke regime for stablecoins, but proposed greater oversight of influencers. (CoinDesk)

Mastercard‘s CipherTrace unit announced a new integration with AI-based fraud detection service Feedzly as part of a broader push to monitor crypto exchanges. (CNBC

Fidelity is the latest TradFi giant to file an application for an Ethereum ETF. (CoinDesk)

Claims held by FTX’s largest creditors are trading as high as 65 cents on the dollar as the company’s position continues to improve in bankruptcy. (The Block)


Sam Altman on his guest pass:

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Flaw in early Bitcoin wallets shows how much crypto depends on secure code

As the Post explains, the problem “stems from wallet programs that created cryptographic keys that weren’t random enough. Instead of crafting electronic keys that were one in a trillion and therefore very hard for an outsider to forge, they made keys that were one in some number of thousands—a randomness factor easily hacked.”

In other words, hackers could use trial and error to guess the private key of these wallets and steal the contents. For now, the details of the vulnerability are only known by the security firm that discovered it, and they are not disclosing them for obvious reasons—but the firm made clear it’s a matter of time till bad guys find it too.

While this sounds like a potential catastrophe, the fallout is likely to be relatively minor since the wallet flaw affects only certain pre-2016 wallets created by the firm Blockchain and a few others. Blockchain has been warning its customers so those affected have time to patch their wallet or move their Bitcoin somewhere else.

The most interesting question for me is what will become of the vulnerable wallets whose owners have long ago forgotten about them. There are likely more of these than we might imagine. I recall, for instance, a friend who briefly dated a guy who sent her a small amount of Bitcoin to try and get her interested in crypto—but who, understandably, promptly forgot about it soon after. No doubt there are many others in her situation since there are reportedly at least 4 million Bitcoins lost forever.

The irony is that the price of Bitcoin in 2015 was as low as $300 and is up 100-fold since then, which means even small amounts from that era are worth a healthy sum. The upshot is that news of the vulnerability will set off a race to recover all that forgotten Bitcoin—a race not unlike those expeditions that seek to find and recover sunken vessels that contain gold bars.

Unfortunately, those likely to win that race are nasty characters like the North Korean military, which already spend their time trying to steal crypto. The Post reports there has been proposals for good guy white hat hackers to steal the Bitcoin first and figure out a way to safeguard and distribute it. Alas, for now, the plan is not going forward due to fear of legal liability.

All of this a fine reminder of just how much the integrity of crypto depends on secure code. After 15 years without a hack, the code that runs Bitcoin itself can be considered all but bullet-proof but, as ever, third parties who build around it can make mistakes. This is a lesson newer blockchain projects should take to heart.

Finally, speaking of hacking, FBI and Justice Department agents will be on hand at the Blockchain Association’s Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. on November 29 and 30. My colleague Leo Schwartz will be there too along with some big names from the world of politics—you can check out the details here.

Jeff John Roberts


Tether is moving into Bitcoin mining with plans to spend $500 million on its own facilities and on stakes in other mining firms. (Bloomberg)

The secure email service Proton Mail is deploying blockchain technology as a means of verifying the identify of email addresses. (Fortune)

As the world moves on from Sam Bankman-Fried, The Bahamas is struggling to shake off the taint from his association (CoinDesk)

Funding levels of Bitcoin perpetual futures are at 2021 levels prior to its $69,000, which points to bullish sentiment even as spot price sagged back to $36,000. (Bloomberg)

NBA star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is suing to reverse his purchase of a giant home in Toronto because it keeps being visited by menacing figures seeking the crypto crook who used to own it. (NYT)


Oops. Fox uses CZ’s photo in place of Citadel CEO:


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JP Morgan, Siemens, and FedEx show that blockchain finance is more than a buzzword

Innovation is a funny thing. It often arrives with an excess of hype and then fades into disappointment—before reemerging in full bloom. A case in point is JPMorgan’s “JPM Coin“, a corporate stablecoin launched shortly after the 2017 crypto bubble that seemed doomed to languish as a proof of concept that would never catch on in the real world.

In recent weeks however, the story around JPM Coin has changed dramatically as the bank announced that it is notching daily transaction volumes above $1 billion and that its big corporate clients are finally tapping into the coin’s promise to provide “programmable” money.

If you’re unfamiliar with JPM Coin, it’s a digital dollar that the bank created on a private version of the Ethereum blockchain. This means that clients with access to the coin (or ones like it) can enjoy the benefits of crypto technology—including 24/7 transactions and smart contract features—within a secure corporate environment. Well, that’s how it was supposed to work in theory.

In reality, the past six years have been marked by a series of announcements involving banks and companies saying they’ve carried out a blockchain transaction—involving dollars or equities or commodities—and that’s been the end of the matter. While the transactions did occur, they didn’t really matter since they were mostly one-off events that didn’t lead to any changes in day-to-day commerce.

This has quietly began to change, however, as companies have moved past the PR phase of blockchain and started tapping into its actual benefits. I spoke with Naveen Mallela, the head of coin systems (yes, that’s a title) at JPMorgan’s Onyx unit, and he explained that the likes of Siemens, Cargill and FedEx are all using these tools in daily operations.

Mallela told me that customers are viewing JPM Coin less as a stablecoin than as a tool to manage commercial deposits and take advantage of programmable money. I pushed him on that, asking what exactly he means by programmable. He explained that it means creating automated instructions for funds you control. A primitive illustration is auto-pay for bills but, thanks to blockchain, companies can now carry out far more sophisticated operations.

Mallela gave three persuasive examples of programmable money in action: companies using blockchain to carry out cash sweeps that used to happen once a day, but that can now occur anytime; finance firms using smart contracts to monitor and address margin calls for securities; and companies arranging for shipping payments to be released at various stages of a voyage.

By relying on smart contracts to handle these operations, companies can deploy cash and staffing resources more efficiently. And this is likely only the beginning. Mallela notes that IFTT (“if this, then that”) instructions are becoming commonplace in the corporate blockchain environment and that companies will find more and more ways to use them.

Meanwhile, programmable money is sprouting up in the investment sector as well—JPMorgan and Apollo just launched tokenized funds in Singapore, while a startup called Superstate, founded by the creator of the popular DeFi protocol Compound, just raised $14 million to do the same in the U.S. All of this shows that, while blockchain-based finance is still far from mainstream, it has quietly taken a giant leap forward.

Jeff John Roberts


Binance is launching a new crypto exchange in Thailand alongside Gulf Energy, a giant conglomerate run by the country’s second richest man. (Bloomberg)

Paxos is launching a new USD-pegged stablecoin in Singapore after becoming the second company to obtain a key approval from the country’s Monetary Authority. (The Block)

The SEC deferred on two more crypto ETF applications, including Grayscale’s bid to launch one for ETH futures, though many predict approvals in January. (Bloomberg)

Ark’s Cathie Wood plugged Solana on TV, helping to push the altcoins price to three times what it was in January. (CNBC)

Bitcoin soared 6%, wiping out losses early this week and returning the currency to just under $38,000. (Coindesk)


Gary + Liz foreva:



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Compound founder’s new firm Superstate raises $14 million to modernize investing with crypto-style tools

Robert Leshner is a crypto pioneer, known for launching the highly successful DeFi protocol Compound and introducing many to the world of automated, decentralized trading. Now, he is building out a new venture, SuperState, that aims to take the best features of DeFi and apply them to the world of mainstream finance.

On Wednesday, Superstate announced it has raised a $14 million Series A round led by Distributed Global and CoinFund. The company declined to disclose a valuation, which comes after SuperState raised a $4 million seed round in June.

Superstate plans to use the money to build out its team and develop private funds that will let institutional investors avail themselves of the “programmable” features familiar to the crypto world. In practice, this will entail letting the investors obtain tokenized versions of bonds or other common assets, and trade or lend them on Uniswap-like platforms—services that rely on smart contracts to carry out interest-bearing transactions.

In an interview with Fortune, Leshner said it will be months or more until any such products go live. For now, he says, Superstate is focused on not only building the financial plumbing to make this happen, but also to obtain the requisite regulatory clearances to offer products in the U.S.

The idea of applying blockchains and DeFi-style tools to conventional finance is not a new one. In 2018, startups like Harbor touted “security tokens”—digital assets backed by real-world assets—as a killer app for crypto that would make it easy to trade real estate and a wide variety of other assets on the blockchain. While this idea might have had an intuitive appeal, it never caught on at the time, which raises the question of whether Superstate will fare any better.

Leshner is confident it will, in large part because the crypto and investing landscape is very different than it was five years ago. He says many investors are not only familiar with the benefits of exchanging assets on a blockchain but want to use them for mainstream trading.

Leshner adds that, in the past, traditional investors who were familiar with blockchain stayed away because blockchain-trading infrastructure was limited and because the assets available to trade were typically limited to exotic crypto tokens.

“Today, the number of developers is 100 times what it was at the time. The world is ready for tokenized funds,” said Leshner.

Recent developments in the world of banking suggest he’s likely correct. This includes the likes of JPMorgan and HSBC building out blockchain services to trade equities and commodities. The pace remains incremental but does support Leshner’s thesis that professional investors are more open to integrate crypto-style tools as part of their operations.

Superstreet is aiming to launch its first by early next year provided it can obtain the requisite SEC permissions. Leshner says its initial suite of products will be built on Ethereum but that it may add other blockchains down the road.

“Superstate’s approach to tokenization will bridge the gap between high-quality compliant financial products and the massive advantages and innovation DeFi is poised to offer to traditional finance,” CoinFund CEO Jake Brukhman said in a statement.

Other investors in Superstreet’s Series A include Breyer Capital, Galaxy, Arrington Capital, Road Capital, CMT Digital, Folius Ventures, Nascent, Hack VC, Modular Capital, and Department of XYZ.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

21Shares is a big name in European crypto. Now it wants to crash the U.S. ETF party

Exchange traded funds are the hottest topic in crypto right now. Wall Street firms like BlackRock are jockeying with blockchain natives like Grayscale to get a piece of a new crypto ETF market that analysts predict will soon become worth billions of dollars.

I recently spoke with Ophelia Snyder, who founded Switzerland-based 21Shares, which is the biggest crypto ETF player in Europe, where the products have been legal for years. She believes the American market is ripe for the picking and on Tuesday her firm rolled out five funds that will actively manage a variety of Bitcoin and Ethereum futures products in an ETF wrapper.

Snyder says the inspiration for 21Shares came from her mother who took an interest in Bitcoin way back in 2013, but complained she didn’t want to sign up for a new brokerage or exchange just to get some. To that end, 21Shares has made its name in Europe with crypto products it touts as extremely secure and easy to buy on familiar stock-trading platforms.

In this context, the U.S. does sound like easy pickings at a time when Bitcoin and Ethereum futures ETFs have only been up and running for a few months, and where regulatory approval for a crypto spot ETF is expected to land in coming weeks. The challenge, though, is that 21Shares has plenty of company and it’s far from clear there will be enough to go around for everyone in the crypto ETF market.

Even though 21Shares is new to the ETF game, and is launching its U.S. futures funds months after other firms did the same, Snyder says its active management approach stands out. There is something to this. I’ve written repeatedly that the complexity of futures products (contango anyone?) means ordinary investors should stay the hell away unless they want to get eaten for breakfast by traders with math PhDs. The hands-on approach of 21shares, however, means that customers can leave the technical trading to the company’s pros, while investing in a fund that promises to bring in more yield than if they had just bought Bitcoin or Ethereum directly.

There is also the question of how a European financial brand will fare on this side of the Atlantic. Other big fintech and crypto players from Europe and the U.K. (think eToro or Revolut) have tried to crack the U.S. market and had to retreat. 21Shares, however, has an ace up its sleeve on this front in the form of a tie-up with billionaire Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest—a well known U.S. hedge fund familiar to many here.

The big prize for 21Shares and Ark Invest, along with at least a dozen others, will be up for grabs in January with the expected launch of a Bitcoin spot ETF. But for now, the performance of 21Shares new crypto futures funds may be a good indicator of how the big European brand will fare in what’s expected to be a bruising fight for U.S. market share.

Jeff John Roberts


Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas led a $95 million investment round in Fnality, a London-based firm that uses blockchain for wholesale payments. (Fortune)

The Block sold an 80% stake in the crypto firm at a $70 million valuation to Singapore VC firm as part of a plan to find growth in Asia. (Axios)

The CBOE will expand its crypto services to let customers trade Bitcoin and Ether futures on margin starting in January. (WSJ)

The Solana rally has cooled off, though other altcoins including Filecoin and Polygon have soared in recent days. (Decypt)

XRP briefly soared in response to a fake filing on an official state of Delaware website that suggested BlackRock was creating an XRP-based ETF. (Bloomberg)


Crypto pump-and-dump du jour:


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As Sam Bankman-Fried awaits his prison sentence, spotlight shifts to ‘Barb and Joe’

The media buzz surrounding Sam Bankman-Fried has faded following his conviction on seven fraud-related charges, but the fallout is ongoing—including for his parents Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried. This is reflected in one of the top-read stories in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, titled “Why Are We So Obsessed With Sam Bankman-Fried’s Parents?”

The piece—cheekily illustrated with a grown-up Sam flinging food from a baby’s high chair—raises the intriguing question, especially for those of us with kids, of whether any parent can ever view the behavior of their own child objectively. The author suggests it’s impossible even if the parents in question are brilliant legal scholars like Bankman and Fried.

I suspect that’s correct. The disconnect of Bankman-Fried’s parents reminded me of another criminal trial I saw in the same court nearly a decade ago when I saw a judge sentence another smart and once-promising young person to life in prison. That case involved the Eagle-Scout-turned-drug-kingpin Ross Ulbricht—a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts—who was guilty six ways to Sunday. Yet his mother, a sophisticated and intelligent woman, continues to insist on his innocence despite a mountain of evidence.

As the Journal puts it, the “story of SBF’s parents shows us how deranging parental love is.” Meanwhile, the agony of their son’s conviction is hardly the only preoccupation of Bankman and Fried as another weekend piece in the newspaper, titled “Bankman-Fried’s Parents Stand by Their Sam—and Face Their Own Legal Perils,” makes clear.

That piece highlights how the pair, known around Stanford as “Barb and Joe” according to a recent unflattering profile by BusinessWeek, are facing civil charges in relation to their son’s fallen FTX crypto empire. Those charges accuse the pair of accepting perks like a $16 million Bahamian villa and a $10 million cash gift paid for with FTX funds.

The pair have so refused to return the money even as they spend heavily on high-priced lawyers and a PR firm. This is an odd decision, to put it politely, especially as Fried is a leading scholar in the field of ethics. I don’t possess her credentials, but I fail to see how there is anything ethical about proclaiming “Finders Keepers” when it comes to millions of dollars of customer money the FTX estate wants back.

Finally, there is another possible domino that could fall when it comes to Bankman-Fried’s parents—criminal charges. To be clear, they have not been charged with any crime but, as I recount in a new feature for Fortune, lawyers are split on whether the pair are in the sites of the Justice Department. Whatever happens, the story of Bankman-Fried and his parents is far from over.

Jeff John Roberts


An investigation finds Hamas’ financing infrastructure includes a hawala network that sought to use crypto networks to facilitate “large scale transfers” from Iran to the terrorist group. (WSJ)

The estate of FTX sued the giant exchange ByBit to clawback $953 million of assets, claiming its investment arm used its “VIP” status to withdraw funds before other customers. (Fortune)

Microstrategy’s Bitcoin holdings are now worth around $5.7 billion, and mean the one-time cybersecurity firm is sitting on $1.1 billion of unrealized gains. (CoinDesk)

Former FTX execs, including a witness for the prosecution, are raising money for a new Dubai-based crypto exchange whose design they claim reflects the lessons of FTX. (WSJ)

Solana is trading around $57 after a 20% jump on Friday that capped a three-week upswing that erased the currency’s yearly losses. (CoinDesk)


Guy with massive Bitcoin stake is bullish on Bitcoin:

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Sins of the father: Could Joe Bankman go to jail for helping his son run FTX?

Bankman-Fried’s bankrupt FTX exchange, now led by a caretaker CEO, is suing Bankman and Fried to recover a $10 million gift from their son that was paid with corporate funds. More seriously, the parents—Bankman in particular—might face the risk that federal prosecutors charge them for abetting their son’s criminal enterprise.

White-collar criminal lawyers interviewed by Fortune were divided on whether Bankman might ultimately be charged. But each made clear that Bankman’s intimate role advising his son and FTX—on everything from the company’s byzantine offshore tax structure to how to navigate its ultimate collapse—puts him in very real jeopardy.

$10 million and a luxury villa

Long before Bankman-Fried launched his ill-fated crypto empire, his parents enjoyed substantial financial security and cultural status. They live in a house on the immaculate campus of Stanford University at which they hosted gatherings of the Bay Area’s academic and political elite, and enjoyed access to the very top ranks of the Democratic party thanks, in part, to Fried’s fundraising prowess.

When their son left the hedge fund Jane Street Capital to launch his own crypto venture, Bankman and Fried provided legal and political guidance. Indeed, the clawback lawsuit filed by FTX—whose current CEO, John J. Ray III is a blistering critic of his predecessor’s behavior—quotes Bankman-Fried’s description of the operation as a “family business.”

The benefits to the parents were enormous. As FTX rode the 2021 crypto boom to a $32 billion valuation, Bankman took a leave from Stanford to devote more time to the exchange. But as the new FTX lawsuit recounts, Bankman soon complained to his son, in an email that copied his wife, that the initial $200,000 salary allotted to him was insufficient, and asked instead for $1 million.

“Gee, Sam I don’t know what to say here. This is the first [I] have heard of the 200K a year salary! Putting Barbara on this,” Bankman wrote to his son, according to the lawsuit. Soon after his wife would weigh in by writing, “That would be right if you were giving dad $10 million in cash, but I thought you were giving him only $7.2 million in cash plus the $2.8 mill in the account in his name.”

The parental pressure worked, and FTX soon paid Bankman $10 million. The FTX lawsuit also alleges that Bankman used company money to “shower family and friends with gifts,” including a trip to France and F1 Grand Prix tickets for a Stanford student and future FTX employee.

Then there is the $18.9 million that Bankman-Fried spent on a 30,000-foot Bahamian luxury villa known as Blue Water. While the property was nominally a corporate residence, the lawsuit alleges that Bankman-Fried deeded it to his parents, who enjoyed the exclusive use of it and referred to it as “our house.”

Unlike most politicians and others who received largesse from Bankman-Fried, his parents appear to have repaid none of the money. Meanwhile, they have spent heavily on gold-plated legal representation—likely with the gift they received from their son, according to BusinessWeek, which published a damning profile of the pair. The parents have also retained the services of the prominent public relations maven Risa Heller, whose firm bills as much as $50,000 a month for crisis communications, according to PR industry sources.

Heller did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Fortune about her fees, nor did she respond to questions about whether the legal and PR services Bankman and Fried obtained are being paid for with funds that FTX says belong to its customers.

Requests for comment sent to the email addresses for the pair listed on Stanford’s website came back as undeliverable. Heller did not reply to request for comment on their behalf. Lawyers for the couple have previously said the allegations in the FTX suit “are “completely false” and “a dangerous attempt to intimidate Joe and Barbara.”

In any case, situation amounts to a deeply unflattering look for the couple—not least because Bankman is an authority on corporate law while Fried is a leading scholar of ethics. But it does not mean they broke the law.

“In a criminal case, proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not enough that the dad was aware of criminal activity or that the parents were around or even benefiting from it,” says Renato Mariotti, a former prosecutor who’s now a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. “At a bare minimum, they had to know of criminal activity and [have] helped it succeed in some way.”

‘Red flags’ and Signal chats

In conversations with Fortune about potential criminal charges Bankman could face, attorneys pointed to the same federal statute, Title 18, Section 2 of the U.S. Code, which spells out that anyone who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” the commission of an offense can be charged as if they had committed it directly.

Whether or not Bankman’s role at FTX amounted to abetting in the criminal sense, there is evidence he was directly involved in major decisions at the firm. That evidence includes numerous group chats on the messaging app Signal, produced as evidence at Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial, in which Bankman participated during a time frame up to and including the exchange’s collapse.

BusinessWeek’s report also points to law firm invoices that show Bankman attended meetings that focused on the development and marketing of the FTT token—the funny-money cryptocurrency that FTX relied upon to paper over gaping holes in its balance sheet.

There is also the balance sheet itself, which listed obscure tokens that had little real-world value and included surreal entries like “Hidden, poorly internally labeled ‘fiat@’ account.” If Bankman had seen it—which seems plausible, given his role as lawyer and close advisor to the firm—it’s hard to fathom how he could accept the validity of such a document, which would have received a failing grade from a high school accounting teacher.

As for Bankman’s precise role at FTX, it was amorphous like everything else at the company his son ran as a personal fiefdom. The only formal documentation about its corporate structure, drawn up by an executive and published on the dust jacket of Michael Lewis’s book about Bankman-Fried, lists Bankman as a direct report to his son.

Finally, there is the new civil lawsuit filed by FTX, which notes Bankman observed the company’s inner workings with the “training and knowledge of a sophisticated law professor and the perceptiveness of a clinically trained psychologist. But when red flags about the operations and business practices surfaced, Bankman chose to ignore them.”

Lawyers interviewed by Fortune speculate that Ray and his team drafted the lawsuit in such a way as to make it as useful as possible to prosecutors at Southern District of New York, who successfully filed charges against Bankman-Fried. (FTX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) SDNY, as it is known in legal circles, is the country’s preeminent forum for pursuing white-collar criminals, and it’s staffed by lawyers who are both smart and aggressive.

Reasonable doubt and wild cards 

But despite numerous facts suggesting Bankman had intimate knowledge of his son’s crooked empire, a criminal case would hardly be a slam dunk. The Justice Department’s challenge is bigger still given Bankman’s familiarity with the law.

“It’s hard to prosecute lawyers. They know what to put in writing,” said Mariotti, the former prosecutor.

The multiple challenges of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Bankman was actively complicit indicate prosecutors are unlikely to bring charges, according to Mariotti. He added that the time elapsed—Bankman-Fried was first charged last December—suggests that if they were planning to do so, they would have done it by now.

Other lawyers are not sure about that. Chris LaVigne, a white-collar defense specialist at the law firm Withers, says that previous cases involving massive fraud saw the Justice Department first convict the principal actors, then move on to lesser players. He points to the examples of convicted hedge fund fraudster Raj Rajaratnam, whose brother was arrested following his trial (though not convicted), and of Bernie Madoff, whose sibling was likewise charged (and eventually convicted) after Madoff’s conviction.

LaVigne adds that while Bankman’s legal training makes it unlikely he would put anything in writing that could directly implicate him, the overall circumstances could persuade a jury to convict him and his wife all the same.

“They were living high on the hog while advising a bunch of twentysomethings who had no idea what they were doing,” said LaVigne. “There’s a certain level of info smart folks can have before it becomes apparent something strange is going on—especially if they’re advising in a way to sweep stuff under the rug or obfuscate.”

In determining whether Bankman will be charged, there is a final wild card to consider: his son, who is in the best position to tell prosecutors whether his dad was blind to the fraud or actively helped to design it.

At a recent crypto forum that barred citing comments with attribution, a senior lawyer at a well-known company predicted that prosecutors would charge the parents—and suggested that Bankman-Fried has described FTX’s downfall in ways that minimize their involvement.

“It’s the natural instinct of every child to try and protect their parents,” said the lawyer, who added that he was skeptical Bankman-Fried could have built FTX to such a size without their help.

For now, Bankman-Fried has said that any blame for criminal activity at FTX should only fall on his former girlfriend Caroline Ellison and onetime friends who have already pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges. But as he prepares to face a second trial and awaits a sentencing hearing that could put him in prison for life, there is the possibility he could point the finger in other directions.

Ethereum gets a BlackRock boost, but the real test lies ahead

Happy Friday. The week is ending on a high note for Ethereum, which is back in the news after financial giant BlackRock filed to launch an ETF backed by ether, the blockchain’s native currency. This led the price to jump 10% back over the $2,000 mark for the first time in months as investors bet that BlackRock’s entry will attract billions of dollars in new capital.

This development brings renewed attention to the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, which has largely been overshadowed by Bitcoin and even Solana during the long-awaited rally of the last two months. But while Ethereum boosters are rightfully enjoying the price boost, the return of the spotlight has also raised some familiar concerns.

These include griping about Ethereum’s transactions costs, known as gas fees, which have soared along with the burst of activity on the blockchain that has come with more trading. For long time crypto watchers, this will bring back unpleasant memories of 2017 and 2021 when hype over Ethereum’s smart contract promise led to a surge in price—followed by the blockchain slowing to a crawl, which in turn forced those who wanted to transact to pay outrageous fees.

Ethereum’s momentous shift last year to a proof-of-stake system was supposed to alleviate the price and congestion issues, along with so-called layer-2 solutions—sub-layers on the network that process transactions in batches and then record them on the main blockchain.

The trouble is that, while the layer-2 systems do indeed lower costs dramatically, they add complexity and make the Ethereum user experience—already an ordeal for those who aren’t crypto diehards—even more of a headache. They are also less secure. This has led some to gripe that Ethereum should have devoted its energy to making its main network cheaper and efficient rather than outsourcing the task to other projects.

Finally, the switch to proof-of-stake has also raised concerns over centralization as a relatively small amount of validators are now responsible for maintaining the network—a fact that Bitcoin purists, never gracious at the best of times, have lampooned mercilessly as part of the crypto world’s eternal infighting.

None of this means that Ethereum is facing major trouble—the network is the leading smart contract for a reason, with by far the most users and a robust and dedicated developer community. But as a new crypto bull market emerges, it will be harder for the platform to blame familiar headaches on growing pains as it has in the past. Ethereum is now almost a decade old and the time has come for it to show it can deliver on its enormous potential.

Jeff John Roberts


Chainlink‘s LINK token is up 175% since January as the oracle provider has branched out from pure crypto pricing to tie-ups with the trad-fi sector. (Fortune)

The notorious “Cryptoqueen” who oversaw legal and compliance for Ponzi-like OneCoin pled guilty in the $4 billion fraud. (WSJ)

Economist Nouriel Roubini, a.k.a Dr Doom, has long been a fierce critic of Bitcoin and crypto, but in a surprise move is launching his own stablecoin token. (The Defiant)

In a first of its kind crypto bankruptcy exit, a restructuring plan will give Celsius customers 37 cents on the dollar and shares in a new company dedicated to staking and mining. (WSJ)

Bitcoin brushed $38,000 on Thursday, the highest the token has traded in 18 months. (Fortune)


TFW you learn 1/3 of Ethereum nodes are 20 miles from CIA headquarters:

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Banks are dumping a growing number of customers without any warning

Crypto is notorious for customers getting “rugged”—slang for getting the rug pulled from under them by a service that disappears abruptly. But crypto is hardly the only place this is happening. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of clients getting rugged by their banks.

In these cases, the rug-pull isn’t as bad since the banks eventually return their money. But the short-term impact is just as bad since customers lose access to their bank account and credit cards, sometimes for weeks, leaving them scrambling to pay bills or just get through the day. As the New York Times reported earlier this week, there is no precise data on how often banks are doing this but there has been a 50% increase in the last two years of “suspicious activity reports” (SARs) which often lead to them ghosting customers without warning.

The Times also appeared to have little trouble finding over 500 real life examples of customers getting abruptly dropped by their banks, and cited plenty of instances where the decision was not just sudden but totally unjustified. This included businesses, students, and everyday people who set off a trip-wire and could do nothing but wait for days or weeks until the bank returned their money. The reasons the cut-offs are are often a surprise but the consequences are not:

“Individuals can’t pay their bills on time…When the institutions close their credit cards, their credit scores can suffer. Upon cancellation, small businesses often struggle to make payroll—and must explain to vendors and partners that they don’t have a bank account for the time being,” the Times reports.

The justifications for cutting off accounts in this way is rational enough. In the bloodless language of bankers, it is a matter of “de-risking”—if a customer account flagged by SARs report could lead to fines or regulatory investigations, it makes sense to cut it loose, the human toll notwithstanding. As one person who worked on the process told the Times, “There is no humanization to any of this, and it’s all just numbers on a screen. It’s not ‘No, that is a single mom running a babysitting business.’ “It’s ‘Hey, you’ve checked these boxes for a red flag—you’re out.’”

It makes sense from a strategic perspective for the banks to operate this way, but it’s also a terrible way to treat people—especially as it would cost little for them to introduce a measure or two to help innocent people caught up in the SARS dragnet.

This isn’t to say that the crypto industry is any better when it comes to respecting its customers—the customer service is also lousy and there are dozens of novel ways you can get robbed outright. But it’s easy to see why a core message of crypto—that you can give yourself in total control over your won money—has become appealing to so many people.

Jeff John Roberts


Bitcoin rose above $36,000 while some analysts say the implications of impending ETF approvals are still not priced in. (CoinDesk)

HSBC is launching a new custodian service, using technology from Ripple, to let institutional clients store tokenized assets. (Bloomberg)

Ritual, a project that seeks to bring decentralized Web3-style services to AI, raised a $25 million seed round from investors with ties to Solana and Palantir. (Fortune)

The DeFi game of yield farming is making a return replete with promised returns of up to 70%—in part because, as one trader put it, “crypto is the most FOMO industry ever.” (Bloomberg)

Binance announced the release of a self-hosted wallet within its app, saying the tool lowers the barriers to entry for Web3. (The Block)


Whatever, dude:

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Bitcoin, alt-coins and the return of ‘risk on’

It’s felt like old times in the crypto markets as traders celebrated the first proper “Uptober” (October in crypto speak) in a while with Bitcoin gaining around 28% by month’s end. Meanwhile, the start of November has seen alt-coins get a piece of the action with XRP rising around 20% over the past week while Dogecoin and Cardano have likewise posted double digit games.

All of this reflects the return of what market watchers like to call “risk on” behavior—or what skeptics might prefer to call “Let’s hit the casino, boys!” The basic idea is that, as the vibe around crypto improves, more traders are willing to seek out investments that offer high risk but the potential for high rewards.

As analyst Noelle Acheson has noted, the recent rally has been fueled by the return of leverage as more traders borrow money to supersize their bet on a variety of exotic tokens. Meanwhile, the crypto derivatives market is humming again as people are buying stablecoins from DeFi platforms to try their luck on perpetual futures contracts and similar bets that those of us without a Ph.D. in math would be crazy to go near.

The question is what this all means. As is the case with most crypto market price swings, there appears to be no single cause to explain the current rally. Instead, there is a series of potential factors driving the current mini-boom—including a growing consensus that crypto winter is over at last and that better times are on the way. Don’t underestimate how much sentiment, bad or good, drives the market—and especially the crypto markets.

If the current alt-coin rally lasts, though, the thing I am most curious to see is if traders put a new premium on fundamentals—however you want to define that term when it comes to crypto. In past bull markets, few investors bothered to look for anything resembling empirical evidence to justify throwing their money at the fly-by-night coin du jour. Instead, they relied on half-baked advice from their taxi driver or personal trainer, or accepted the claims of bag holders and bot armies on X. Number go up and all that.

This time around, it would be nice to see crypto traders return to the market older and wiser after the many debacles of the last cycle. And just maybe the price of alt-coins will rise because they have found a novel application or because a critical mass of people are using them for something beyond blind speculation. That’s the optimistic case. But if this new cycle proves to be driven again by mindless gambling, we can look forward to the same bad hangover that’s become a defining feature of the crypto industry.

Jeff John Roberts


Kraken plans to follow Coinbase’s lead and launch its own Layer 2 blockchain, possibly built on the tech stack of Polygon or Matter Labs. (CoinDesk)

Visitors to Hong Kong’s version of the NFT festival ApeFest, hosted by Yuga Labs, reported burning eyes as a result of exposure to ultraviolet light. (Bloomberg)

NFT collections based on The Simpsons soared in value after the famous TV show’s latest episode mocked NFTs. (Decrypt)

U.K. regulators, citing the potential for savings and easier international payments, proposed plans to bring stablecoins into the day-to-day economy under the supervision of the Bank of England. (FT)

An Inspector General’s report found the SEC is struggling to recruit crypto experts, partly due to agency rules that restrict crypto ownership. (Fortune)


Do as I say, not as I do:

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OpeaSea and NFTs used to be red-hot—not these days

The crypto industry is bubbling with a quiet optimism these days—and with good reason. The price of Bitcoin has doubled since the start of the year, and last week’s guilty verdict for Sam Bankman-Fried offered a much needed sense of closure from the ruinous events of 2022. But in one corner of the industry, Crypto Winter feels colder than ever.

I’m referring to the once-thriving NFT sector, which fell off a cliff last year and is still falling. How bad is it? Well, on Friday, OpenSea used the hype around the Bankman-Fried trial as cover for slipping out the bad news that it is laying off 50% of its staff. As a reminder, OpenSea is the flagship brand in the NFT world and early last year raised a $300 million Series C round at a $13.3 billion valuation. It would be a miracle if its value is even half that today.

OpenSea’s troubles are partly its own making. This includes the decision to stop enforcing creator royalties, which ensure that artists get a cut whenever their work is sold on the platform. This came in response to the rise of competitors like Blur, whose platform is designed for trading NFTs in batches, and now accounts for 70% of all volume. But the decision to join Blur and others in reneging on royalty promises poisoned OpenSea’s relationship with many leading artists, who have chosen to withhold their work from the platform.

The upshot is that OpenSea today is adrift strategically as both traders and artists turn their back on the platform, while any plans to issue a token—long anticipated by hardcore crypto types—are clearly on ice. The company’s CEO is putting on a brave face, tweeting that the layoffs are part of a new and improved “OpenSea 2.0” but offering no specifics on the plans to turn things around. It doesn’t help that there have long been rumors of a troubled corporate culture at OpenSea—reflected in a former top executive’s recent conviction for insider trading.

Many of OpenSea’s problems are specific to the company, but it is also contending with broader issues facing the NFT market as a whole. The most glaring of these is that the idea of spending hundreds or even millions of dollars on a digital monkey (or whatever) has no appeal for most people, who would rather blow their money on, well, anything else. And while some NFT collections—such as Bored Apes or Cryptopunks—have become the sector’s equivalent of blue chips, these too continue to drop in value. It doesn’t help that the NFT market is becoming ever more diluted as companies, eager for a quick buck, continue to drop new and unwanted collections every week.

Despite all of this, don’t count NFTs out. The ability to mint and transfer a unique asset on the blockchain has promising applications—particularly when it comes to stuff like coupons, credentialing, and fan clubs. Even as the market for NFT art implodes, companies like Starbucks keep dabbling in the technology. NFTs are here to stay in one form or another—but it will be a long time, and possibly never, before we see people throwing around millions of dollars to own digital monkeys again.

Jeff John Roberts


Lawyers and other advisors to bankrupt crypto firms have earned around $770 million since the onset of crypto winter in 2022. (WSJ)

The recent crypto rally has brought an increase in day-trading but it is far below 2021 levels, in part because there is less volatility for traders to exploit. (Bloomberg)

China is unleashing its first major crackdown on pig-butchering—a scam that can, but often does not, involve crypto—in places like Myanmar and Cambodia. (WSJ)

Hong Kong is taking steps to approve its first spot ETF for Bitcoin. (Bloomberg)

Elon Musk, a past booster of Dogecoin and Bitcoin, said none of his companies would ever create their own cryptocurrency. (The Street)


“Here’s Sam Bankman-Fried’s Stupid Little Face Again”

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The sorry end of Sam Bankman-Fried—and what comes next

Four hours. That’s all it took for a jury to convict Sam Bankman-Fried after a month-long trial that exposed the rotten foundations of his one-time crypto empire. Only a year ago, he was hanging out with the likes of Tom Brady and buying luxury villas while telling everyone how he would use his billions to make the world a better place. Now Bankman-Fried’s world is much, much smaller.

In the coming days, he will spend his time at a Brooklyn detention center begging for more Adderall and time on the internet as he awaits a second trial—this one for trying to use customer money to bribe Chinese officials. That will almost certainly lead to additional guilty verdicts and add yet more years to the decades Bankman-Fried is poised to serve when he is sentenced in late march. After that, he will don his prison clothes and be transported to a federal prison in upstate New York or elsewhere.

Around this time, Apple and other streaming services will begin dropping a series of mini-series that will offer a sensationalized tale of how Bankman-Fried evolved from a privileged math nerd to the perpetrator of one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history. This will be his last flicker of fame before he settles into a tedious regime of awaiting the outcome of long-shot appeals, and then counting the thousands of days until he becomes a free man again in his 50s or 60s—or possibly not at all if the judge hits him with a Madoff-style life sentence.

Meanwhile, outside Bankman-Fried’s prison cell, the rest of the world will move on. This includes the crypto industry, which suffered incalculable damage from Bankman-Fried’s colossal fraud but has survived and is already laying the groundwork for another bull market. Other fraudsters will emerge, but, just maybe, the ruins of FTX will have left everyone just a little wiser and more cautious. At the very least, the likes of Sequoia Capital will do basic due diligence before writing out $200 million checks to blatant conmen. In the crypto markets, a vestige of Bankman-Fried’s legacy will live on in the form of FTT tokens as traders buy and sell them to lay claims on bankruptcy payouts that will eventually come.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Bankman-Fried’s guilty verdict marks the end of an era, and that it came exactly one year after CoinDesk’s Ian Allison published his exposé revealing the holes in FTX’s balance sheet. Venture capitalists and regulators failed to detect the colossal fraud, but a reporter finally blew the whistle—a testament to the ongoing power of journalism to promote truth and accountability.

And speaking of journalism, if you want to end your week with something upbeat, make sure to read my colleague Leo Schwarz’s charming profile of the man behind Inner City Press, the publication and X account that provided some of the very best coverage of Bankman-Fried’s trial. Have a good weekend.

Jeff John Roberts


A view from the courtroom reveals the emotional despair that racked Bankman-Fried and his parents as the guilty verdicts came down. (Fortune)

Despite being host to notorious crypto projects Terra and Three Arrows Capital, Singapore is sticking with its plans to be a crypto hub—though with new guardrails. (Bloomberg)

Solana has reemerged as the hottest cryptocurrency with year-to-date gains of over 300%. (Bloomberg)

Block‘s shares rose on a positive earnings report, which included news that its Bitcoin revenue is up 40% and that the value of its crypto treasury has increased. (Fortune)

Coinbase shares dropped slightly after the company posted lackluster earnings that showed better margins but a continued drop in revenue. (Bloomberg)


Your move, Hollywood:

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Tether is nearly a decade old—and its books are still a mystery

I’ve covered crypto since 2013 and know most of the people and major players pretty well. But there’s one company—Tether—that has remained an enigma this whole time. Tether’s current market cap is around $85 billion, putting it in the same league as Uber and CVS, but what goes on under the hood is anyone’s guess.

On Tuesday, Tether published one of its semi-regular “attestations” to tell us that everything is grand and, in fact, better than ever. According to the company, its reserves—by which it keeps its USTD stablecoin fixed at $1—are healthy and even reflect a $3.2 billion surplus. Meanwhile, Tether says the portion of those reserves backed by secured loans are down to $2 billion while the rest is made up of firmer stuff like T-bills, gold, and Bitcoin. If this is the case, the USTD peg is stronger than ever.

Tether is also literally printing money. Since it pays no returns to those who hold its coins, even in this high interest rate environment, the company pocketed a reported profit of more than $1 billion last quarter. Right now, Tether is sitting on what has got to be the best business in crypto.

In theory at least. The problem, as always with Tether, is that we have to take what the company says on faith. Sure, it received its “attestation” saying everything is in order, but that assurance comes from an off-brand accounting firm in Italy. If Tether wants everyone to take an attestation seriously, it should go get one in the form of an audit from one of the Big 4. Why has it failed to do so?

One possibility is that it can’t—the big consulting firms may have decided that, at a time when the White House is trying to strangle crypto, that it is simply not worth the trouble of taking on a client like Tether. It’s also possible that the shadowy executives who run the stablecoin giant have decided that, since they’re making money hand over fist, there’s no upside to going through the time and trouble of an audit.

As for just how shadowy Tether really is, we just don’t know. Bloomberg’s Matt Levine put it well when he said the answer could be any of: “1. tether is extremely legit, except for that one time, and they just like *pretending* to be shady (why?) 2. tether was shady, but rising rates and fallen competitors mean that it stumbled into a good legit business 3. remains shady (in what way?).” I suspect it’s number 2 but, like Levine and everyone else, I can only guess.

If we accept that Tether is bigger and doing better than ever, that doesn’t reflect well on U.S. crypto policy. Even as the Justice Department and SEC have been rightfully cracking down on many fly-by-night crypto scams—and massive frauds (Hi, Sam!)—the White House has also tried to kneecap even the most legitimate crypto companies in the U.S. If the Biden Administration had instead backed stablecoin legislation, it’s likely that the USDC stablecoin—run by Circle and Coinbase—would not have lost so much ground to an unregulated offshore wildcatter.

It will be interesting to see how the stablecoin industry evolves over the course of the next bull market. But now, it’s pretty clear that Tether is riding high.

Jeff John Roberts


HSBC Holdings, a big player in London’s bullion markets, is using blockchain to create tradable tokens that correspond to individual bars of gold held in custody by the bank. (Bloomberg)

The controversial project Worldcoin, which gives people crypto in exchange for scanning their eyes, says it now has over 1 million active users. (The Block)

The SEC accused the executives of SafeMoon, a project that promised to guard assets while providing high returns, with spending $200 million on luxury pads and McLaren cars. (Fortune)

Coinbase‘s U.S. retail customers can now trade Bitcoin and Ethereum futures on the company’s Advanced platform. (Fortune)

Bitcoin rose back above $35,000 while alt-coins, led by Solana, are riding an upswing. (CoinDesk)


SBF the hottie goes viral (alas, it’s a fake):

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Sam Bankman-Fried’s moronic media tour comes around to bite him

If you’ve seen a cop show, you know the phrase “You have a right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” That famous warning, enshrined as a constitutional right in the Supreme Court’s 1966 Miranda decision, isn’t one to take lightly. If you are in trouble with the law, the first thing to do is easy: Shut. Up.

Sam Bankman-Fried, despite being the child of two prominent law professors, didn’t heed that advice. Instead, after finding himself in deep legal trouble, he blabbed to anyone who would listen. He blabbed to a Bloomberg reporter. He blabbed to Michael Lewis. He blabbed by text to younger female journalists. For good measure, he also blabbed to the New York Times at an event live-streamed around the world.

And wouldn’t you know it, all that blabbing is being used against him in a court of law. My colleague Leo has been attending the Manhattan courtroom where Bankman-Fried is being tried for fraud, and his latest dispatch highlights how his many media interviews became so many gift-wrapped pieces of evidence for the prosecutor:

“To prove Bankman-Fried’s awareness of an activity, she frequently pointed to statements he had made to reporters during his infamous media tour in December 2022, right after the collapse of FTX. These included interviews conducted with outlets including Bloomberg and The Financial Times. Even as Bankman-Fried asserted that he didn’t remember the specifics of the interviews, they provided Sassoon with a wealth of evidence to show his exact comments—many of them damning.”

What did he think was going to happen? Did he think he would be able to use his charm and intellect to spin away his reckless words as he had once done if anyone asked about the integrity of FTX’s business? That’s not how it works. Instead his moronic media tour is likely to become a source of amusement for Bankman-Fried’s future cell mates who will marvel over how anyone could have been that stupid.

I have no idea why Bankman-Fried undertook that media tour—the answer must involve psychological factors that are above my pay grade. But let’s hope he enjoyed it. His next big media tour will be 20 years from now if he’s lucky.

Jeff John Roberts


New research shows hackers have used the breach of the LastPass password management system to steal $4.4 million of crypto from many wallets. (Bleeping Computer)

The flow of new money into crypto assets last week was the highest since July of 2023, though analysts say investors are still being relatively cautious. (Bloomberg)

The Celsius bankruptcy judge has asked the SEC to get on with addressing a proposal that would mostly repay creditors and end the Chapter 11 process. (Bloomberg)

The U.K. has published the rules of its crypto asset regime that go into force in phases, beginning with stablecoins. (CoinDesk)

A data analysis of Sam Bankman-Fried‘s testimony shows his average answer length was around twice as long as those of his one-time lieutenants. (Fortune)


How the trial is going:

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Grayscale’s Ethereum ETF just entered a 240-day review process. Its Bitcoin cousin is expected in January

The U.S. government on Friday published an application by crypto giant Grayscale to launch an Ethereum ETF for the spot market. Grayscale first applied for the ETF in early October, but the petition’s appearance on the Federal Reserve is significant because it starts a 240-day clock by which the Securities and Exchange Commission must respond.

The start of the Ethereum ETF process also coincides with a surge in crypto prices this month that analysts believe is correlated to impending decisions by the SEC on a batch of Bitcoin ETF applications by Grayscale, BlackRock, and others.

Since the start of October, Bitcoin prices have jumped around 27% while Ethereum has climbed 7%.

Many in the crypto industry believe the approval of ETF products, which make it easy for retail investors to buy various assets in the form of shares, will result in a flood of new liquidity into the markets.

While Grayscale has sought to launch a Bitcoin ETF for years, the SEC has rebuffed these efforts, leading the company to sue the agency last year. In late August, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a unanimous and resounding decision that opened the door to widespread expectations that the SEC would issue an approval soon.

Many industry watchers have circled early January for when the SEC is likely to grant approval, in part because that will coincide with another “shot clock” deadline for a Bitcoin ETF application by the crypto hedge fund Ark Invest.

While Ark is currently at the head of the approval queue, it remains to be seen if the SEC will approve its application first or instead approve a larger batch of applicants all at once. It’s also possible, though unlikely, the agency will find a new pretext to delay or not approve the Bitcoin ETF applications.

The process has been slow and convoluted in part because it involves a two-part approval—one to permit exchanges to list crypto ETFs, and a separate one for individual companies to issue the ETFs.

In a quirk of the regulatory process, the SEC has approved futures ETFs for both Bitcoin and Ethereum. While these are also crypto ETFs, the underlying assets they contain are not digital assets but instead futures contracts that are well understood only by investors well-versed in derivatives.

In response to a request for comment about the ETF application, a company spokeswoman said: “The filing reflects Grayscale’s ongoing commitment to converting its entire family of crypto investment products to ETFs.”

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