Matt Hougan on Bitwise’s launch of Ethereum Futures ETFs (EP.457)

Matt Hougan, the Chief Investment Officer of Bitwise Asset Management joins the show. In this episode we discuss:

  • The SEC’s approval of Ethereum Futures ETFs
  • Bitwise’s launch of AETH, The Bitwise Ethereum Strategy ETF and BTOP, the Bitwise Bitcoin and Ether Equal Weight Strategy ETF.
  • The current state of play as it relates to Bitcoin spot ETF filings.
  • The SEC’s approach and posture given the Grayscale court case.
  • The current lay of the land in the institutional market as it relates to digital asset products.

To learn more about Bitwise visit

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David Phelps (Jokerace) on Incentivizing Participation and Co-creation (EP.456)

David Phelps is the co-founder and CEO of jokerace and a prolific writer. He joins the podcast to discuss:

  •  Why tokens are not optimal for effective governance
  •  Alternative ways to incentivize users and distribute decision making power
  •  How we solve for retaining users versus just attracting them
  •  Composability and evolving from user generated content to user generated apps

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Weekly Roundup 09/29/23 (Gensler HFSC hearing, Vespa problems, SBF trial starts) (EP.455)

Matt and Nic return for deals and news. In this episode:

  • Is AI going to cause unemployment for IB associates?
  • Blockchain based sneakers
  • Tungsten business cards
  • What’s happening with OTB merch?
  • Nic’s Vespa catastrophe
  • Gensler’s HSFC hearing
  • How Gensler is the Tonya Harding of crypto
  • Made up airlines
  • What’s going on with Huobi?
  • FTX trial starts next week

Content mentioned in this episode:


Sponsor notes:

  • Coin Metrics STATE OF THE NETWORK — Q3 2023 Mining Data Special

  • In Coin Metrics State of the Network Issue 226, we provide an examination of the current Bitcoin mining landscape through the lens of Coin Metrics’ data

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Weekly Roundup 09/22/23 (SBF family in focus, Tether is lending again, BTC security budget) (EP.454)

Matt and Nic return for news and deals. In this episode:

  • We recap the conferences
  • Nic’s Columbia lecture snafu
  • The Bitcoin security budget debate
  • One theory for what might provide Bitcoin with long term security
  • FTX sues Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried
  • Tether has resumed their lending operations
  • Did SBF’s parents make him do it?
  • HK is creating stablecoin legislation
  • USA vs Singapore

Content mentioned:

Sponsor notes:

The post Weekly Roundup 09/22/23 (SBF family in focus, Tether is lending again, BTC security budget) (EP.454) appeared first on On the Brink Podcast.

Henri Stern (Privy) on Wallet Experiences for Mainstream Users (EP.453)

Henri Stern, CEO and co-founder of Privy, joins us to discuss:
  • The contradictory functions that wallets serve
  • Offering in-app non-custodial embedded wallets
  • Balancing the trade offs of security versus convenient recovery
  • How customers are customizing their embedded wallet experience
  • The decision to build third party wallet connectors and embedded wallets


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A man, a plan, a canal

How George Washington’s failed Canal Ambitions led to the Constitutional Convention

I am republishing this newsletter entry, first published two years ago in my short-lived newsletter, Murmurations. Murmurations was published on Twitter’s newsletter platform, Revue, which has since been deprecated. Because I like this piece, I am posting it here for posterity. Keep in mind this was intended for a smaller, more intimate audience.


I grew up in the swamp. Well, more precisely, I spent most of my formative years in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The question of where I’m “from” is a bit more complicated. I touched on it a bit in my blog On Writing (Ok, I have to come clean — to my embarrassment, I learned later that Stephen King had written an entire book with the same title and some of the same lessons, but of course from the position of a much accomplished writer. I later listened to this on audiobook with my dad on a 1,500 mile drive from Boston to Miami and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t recommend it enough.)

Did any of you get the joke in On Writing (the above blog post post referenced, not the book)? I’m not sure anyone did. In the post, I’m scolding myself, as well as my readers, for derailing the process of communicating information from your brain to another — telepathy, as Steven King describes it — with overly flowery language. My point was that vanity impairs clarity. But the post itself is full of unnecessary rhetorical flourishes. So it’s a classic case of myself not being able to take my own advice.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2

George Orwell is actually guilty of the same in his famous essay Politics and the English Language. He makes many of the errors of writing he insists a good writer should not commit. But we still love his essay. So I’m developing a new thesis: perhaps the flourishes are why readers stick around. No one wants to read robotic, syntactically optimal prose. Fair warning: due to a lack of an editor on this new project, I plan to fully indulge in digressions, flourishes, parentheticals, footnotes, asides, and needless rhetoric. Consider this my natural undiluted self.

Back to the swamp. Well — one point of clarification. Washington D.C. was never actually a swamp. George Washington picked it quite deliberately for the nation’s capital as he knew the area well given its proximity to his estate at Mt. Vernon. While D.C. is built around the Potomac, and as any resident knows, the soil in the region is virtually all clay, inherited from the river’s journey over the centuries, the city itself isn’t particularly swamplike. The swampiest era in the history of the nation’s capital came after the Civil War, when poor farming practices caused mudflats to emerge on the outskirts of the city. These were later transformed into the reflecting pool, the Tidal Basin (the place with the cherry blossoms), and much of the national mall where you can find the Lincoln and the Jefferson Memorials (my favorite). If you’ve ever visited, you will know that it can get extremely hot and humid, especially in the late summer months. But it’s no swamp.

By the way, there’s an incredible 18-mile bike trail from Alexandria, VA to George Washington’s estate at Mt Vernon. One of the best things about D.C. is the abundance of fantastic bike trails, many of them running along old canal towpaths or converted from trolley trails. I spent a couple years cycling to work from Bethesda (12 miles north) to downtown D.C. on a fantastic trail called the Capital Crescent. Downhill on the way in, following the curve of the Potomac down to Georgetown. Then uphill on the way back. There’s nothing like cycling uphill in the dark, sometimes in the rain or snow, for 12 miles after a long day’s work. At the time I worked for a magazine covering corporate law of all things. I think I earned around $40k/year at the time but I was quite content.

As any DC resident knows, there’s a spectacular natural landmark not far from the city. I speak of Great Falls, a series of enormous rapids 14 miles upstream of DC. The falls drop 80 feet in under a mile, including a 50 foot drop over 1/10 of a mile. The flow rate increases dramatically as the Potomac is crammed into a narrow gorge. It’s quite breathtaking, especially when the river is engorged after a rainstorm. These are Class V+ rapids, with only the most experienced kayakers able to traverse them. Fatalities are not uncommon. Swimmers in the area also frequently drown. Gigantic signs adorn the banks of the river grimly warning of the number of drownings in the area. The rapids are so dangerous that kayakers are cautioned to attempt them only during off-peak hours so as not to attract attention from park visitors who get dangerously close to the river in their enthusiasm to watch.

There’s a great trail with fantastic views of the falls on the Maryland side called the Billy Goat Trail (Section A is the one you want). It has plenty of scrambling over rocks for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Growing up our family must have done it a dozen times at least, maybe more. My dad had a habit of doing the relatively demanding trail in flip flops. Invariably one would break and he would march on, stoically, with one foot bare, insisting that he was just fine. If you ever visit D.C., take a break from the monuments and give the trail a shot. The first half winds right along the river on the sheer rocky banks, and the latter half takes you back along the canal and towpath.

This is where George Washington features again in our story. Washington, aside from being a general, nation-builder, statesman, and one of the largest landowners in the U.S., was also a huge aficionado of canal-building. Long before he commanded troops in the revolutionary war or assumed the Presidency, he pursued canals with a passion. In 1748, at the mere age of 16, the youthful Washington was hired by his mentor Lord Fairfax to join a surveying expedition in western Virginia. (Washington’s surveying career spanned his entire life; he continued to undertake surveys up until his death in 1799.) This first trip convinced Washington that a series of canals around the Potomac’s impassable rapids was the key to linking the coast to the fertile Ohio valley. He would spend the rest of his life, political career permitting, attempting to realize this vision.

In the wake of the Revolutionary war, Washington formed the Patowmack Joint Stock Company in 1785 in pursuit of this dream. The Company through great adversity eventually completed five canals, including a canal skirting Great Falls, which opened in 1802.

To build the locks descending alongside Great Falls, Washington’s canal required black powder to blast out the rock, one of the first engineering projects in the U.S. to use this technique. Given the general lack of modern engineers in the country at the time, this work was slow and arduous. In the end, the Patowmack Company made a 218-mile stretch of the Potomac somewhat passable, with boats taking the river most of the way, and using the canals and locks to descend impassable portions. That’s why it was called a ‘skirting’ canal — it didn’t replace the river but rather supplemented it during the rockiest bits. The system was nevertheless somewhat rudimentary. As the national park service relates:

Some years there were only about 45 days when the water reached a sufficient level for the locks to operate. The Potomac itself was unpredictable and often tore up boats in rapids and whirlpools. Because no one could pole against the strong current, boats had to be broken up in Georgetown and sold along with the other cargo. A more effective way was needed to navigate the Potomac.

In the pre-steamboat era, traveling upstream on the Potomac was basically impossible, so the direction of travel was one-way. The vestiges of some of these canals and locks, including the ones at Great Falls, still exist and can be visited today.

Contemporary view of Lock 1 of the Patowmack canal

Economically speaking, the Patowmack Company was not a success and folded in 1832. Its operations (and some of its locks) were incorporated into the more substantive Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal, which ran parallel to the Potomac. The C&O canal, completed in 1850, linked the coal mines of Cumberland, MD with Washington D.C., operating until 1924. The C&O Canal was passable in both directions, with mules towing boats along the towpath. Today the towpath running along the 184-mile length of the canal (or its desiccated remnants) remains intact, thanks to Richard Nixon’s 1971 designation of the Canal as a national park.

This is a picture of the ‘Little Falls’ section of the original Patowmack canal, later folded into the C&O canal. The present day C&O canal and towpath looks like this along much of its length. In the summer it’s chock full of turtles sunbathing on logs, fish, and birds, which are attracted to the warm, placid waters.

For his part, Washington had to abandon his canal-building plans in order to preside over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which would end with him assuming the role of the presidency in 1789.

A man, a plan, a canal

But Washington’s work on canals was not wholly distinct from his nation-building ambitions. Indeed, it could even be said that his desire to unite the interior frontier of the country with its coasts led to the constitutional convention itself. The canal was a multi-lateral endeavor; the canals along the Potomac were bordered by Maryland and Virginia and thus both states had an economic interest in the project. Postwar relations between the two states were anything but harmonious, though. Washington took on the unenviable task of persuading the assemblies of both states to support the canal. With the help of a convention hosted at his estate in Mt Vernon, he was able to reach an accord. Future ideological opponents James Madison and George Mason also supported the canal and associated convention. There, delegates from Maryland and Virginia agreed on the Mt Vernon Compact, which governed river navigation rights, fishing rights, and the sharing of toll duties from canal passage.

After the success of the Mt Vernon Convention, the future-framers decided to invite other states to the discussions, broadening their scope from simple questions of river tolls to commerce more generally. In 1785 letter, Madison urged Washington to take advantage of the traction from the Mt Vernon conference:

It seems naturally to grow out of the proposed appointment of commissioners to Virginia and Maryland, concerted at Mount Vernon, for keeping up harmony in the commercial regulations of the two States. Maryland has ratified the report, but has invited into the plan Delaware and Pennsylvania, who will naturally pay the same compliment to their neighbors.

Thus in 1786, Madison organized a second conference, this time in Annapolis. The objective was to “take into consideration the trade of the United States” and “consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interest and permanent harmony.” This time, delegates from Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey attended. Among them were Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph, future Secretary of State under Washington.

At the time, the nation was in deep recession, and the incipient Confederation was unable to finance itself through taxation nor able to devise a consistent trade policy. Shay’s rebellion, a populist uprising in Massachusetts triggered by a postwar debt crisis, was also underway at the time. The political atmosphere was grim. Thus at the Annapolis convention, Hamilton became convinced of the need for a wholesale reimagining of American governance. He proposed a subsequent convention in Philadelphia the following year, “to take into consideration the condition of the United States, and to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.”

Thus it could be said that Washington’s canal ambitions set off a causal chain that led directly to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. National Geographic in their June 1987 issue described the Patowmack Canal as the ‘waterway that led to the constitution’.

Constitution or a Coup?

There’s a strain of revisionist history, which I am partial to, that treats the constitutional convention, and the ensuing establishment of the United States, as a kind of bloodless coup. The Confederation was certainly ineffective, but it had not failed entirely at the time of the convention. And if you compare the Constitution with its predecessor, it was considerably less democratic. Curtis Yarvin puts it plainly:

The Constitution is an elected monarchy because the Constitution was installed as a right-wing coup. Its goal was to replace the chaotic and ineffective Congress of the Confederation with an effective government that was monarchical and national, while retaining the cosmetic appearance of a federation of sovereign states. Later this fatal, unresolvable ambiguity produced a war; it worked quite well for most of a century.


In America, something like pure, decentralized democracy lasted roughly from 1776 to 1789. The Congress of the Confederation worked so poorly that Americans airbrushed our first national government out of our own history books.

Indeed, the colonies did organize a government between the end of the revolutionary war in 1783, and Washington’s first term, which began in 1789. The Continental Congress had no fewer than ten separate presidents (although these presidents had little executive power, being part of the congressional body). This government didn’t function particularly well, but it existed.

Now to Yarvin’s question, if you went to school in the U.S., how much time was devoted in history class to this era in history? I would venture that you recall an unbroken narrative from the Declaration of Independence straight to the framers, with no discussion of the 13 year interregnum. Was the name of John Hanson, the first individual known as ‘President’ in the United States, mentioned at all?

There’s a very detailed book on this topic called The Framer’s Coup, by Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman, that casts the Constitutional Convention as a kind of reprisal of the elites against the incipient democracies that existed at the State level. Indeed, it’s quite clear that the U.S. Constitution was much less democratic than the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution established the Senate (at the time, Senators were chosen by the States, rather than being directly elected), the Electoral College, clearly intended to insert elite discretion into the presidential selection process, and firmly entrenched the Federal government as superior to the States.

So why did the Constitution include such apparently anti-democratic measures? Klarman argues that, post revolutionary war, these State-driven democracies had embraced populist policies imposing a kind of economic class warfare designed to disempower large landholders and benefit poorer farmers and the working class. He lays it out in a 2010 talk:

The Framers’ constitution was mostly a conservative, aristocratic response to what they perceived as the excesses of democracy that were overrunning the states during the 1780s.

The Framers were trying to create a powerful national government that was as distant from popular control as possible: very long terms in office, large constituencies, indirect elections. They thought of democracy as rule by the mob. They didn’t think poor people could be trusted with the suffrage. They didn’t think women should vote.

A lot of what the original Constitution was about was constraining the power of the states to pass laws beneficial to debtor farmers in a time of economic distress and expanding the power of the national government to that it could efficiently raise taxes in order to pay off government bond holders, who often were merely speculators in such debt rather than initial suppliers of credit.

According to this reading of history, it may well have been the case that the Founding Fathers were motivated by a desire to reign in loose monetary policy that was benefiting debtors (by inflating away the real value of their debt) and harming the creditor class (which they, as a kind of American landed gentry, by and large consisted of).

This is a monetary theory of the Constitution not often advanced, but one that seems to align with many of the Framers’ stated views on monetary policy. Jefferson for instance once claimed that “paper is poverty,” describing it as “the ghost of money, and not money itself.” He additionally sought to advance an amendment abolishing borrowing at the federal level. Washington was no fan of fiat either, writing in a letter: “paper money has had the effect in your state that it ever will have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.” James Madison was equally aggrieved, claiming that “paper money is unjust,” adding: “it is unconstitutional, for it affects the rights of property as much as taking away equal value in land.” (And if you read Madison’s Federalist 10, it seems he isn’t a huge fan of direct democracy either.) Virginia’s rampant currency printing and devaluation during the revolutionary war likely affected Madison, Jefferson, and Washington, as they were all Virginia landowners. They would all have likely dealt with losses stemming from the inflation, with Jefferson hit particularly hard.

In this context, the ‘elite economic reprisal’ theory promoted by Klarman seems rather persuasive. The New Republic further elaborates on the theory:

Not surprisingly, common people began to use their new political influence to create economic policies that were favorable to themselves (and disadvantageous to creditors and wealthy citizens), such as inflationary monetary policy and progressive taxation. The Constitution, according to the economic interpretation, was the 1 percent’s revenge, a countermeasure designed to undermine the democratic governments in the states, thereby returning power to wealthy elites and insulating them from popular opinion.

The notion of the founding of the nation as an elite-led reprisal against democracy, motivated at least in part by concerns regarding excessively loose monetary conditions, is an idea that tickles me no small amount.

I’m generalizing, but Bitcoiners by and large aren’t noted fans of democracy. We tend to vote with our wallets. Granted, it’s hard to be a fan when democracy created for us the worst debt overhang in peacetime in the history of the nation. We are at wartime debt to GDP levels, without having fought a war, and without any clear way out. The government commands the largest role it has ever had in society when measured by expenditures as a share of GDP. It’s not hard to see why we might be disenchanted with the electoral process.

I have long considered Bitcoin a bit of an inversion of prior populist monetary movements. Historically, populism generally entails a demand for loose monetary policy and the easing of credit. Jubilees and the cancellation of debt as Graeber relates are among the oldest political traditions in existence. So when I think of populist monetary movements I think of William Jennings Brian and his ‘cross of gold’. His ‘free silver’ movement aimed to expand the money supply, thus softening the currency and bailing out indebted farmers. Bitcoin, representing a hard money, low time preference, high interest rate ideology is the opposite. But how often do you see populist monetary movements in favor of hard money? I’m not sure I can think of one.

Some of the critics are right, I think. Well, partially. Any political description of Bitcoin will be both overly broad and incomplete; Bitcoin is a gigantic tent and is used by likely north of 100m individuals worldwide; no single idea unites them. The protocol is cold and unfeeling and manifests no ideology. It’s the collision of this neutral system with the established political world that is revealing. And certainly, groups of bitcoiners exist with definite political ideas.

For instance, the popularity of Bitcoin in the developed world could well be interpreted as an elite reprisal against the current populist desire to loosen monetary conditions, collapse asset prices, and eliminate general indebtedness, especially among young people. If you wanted to be dramatic, you could say that we currently face the choice between becoming a permanently indebted nanny state like Argentina or undertaking a hard money reset, such as the founding fathers engineered. In other words, default or austerity. I have my preferences, but I don’t think they’re widely shared.

Back to the canals. Something Washington’s economically unsuccessful canal project makes me think about is the importance of timing in tech investing. His travails are a stark reminder that being a visionary with regards to the progress of technology is not sufficient; you have to execute at the precise right time too. The challenging thing is that knowing when a technology is “due” is impossible a priori and without experimentation; thus tech innovation is necessarily built on the back of many prior failures that were directionally right in their thesis. Gwern puts it well in his stellar essay, Timing Technology: Lessons from the Media Lab:

Technological forecasts are often surprisingly prescient in terms of predicting that something was possible & desirable and what they predict eventually happens; but they are far less successful at predicting the timing, and almost always fail, with the success (and riches) going to another.

Gwern points out that accurate technological predictions are abundant, but what is unknown are the precise conditions and timing that will give rise to economically viable technological outcomes. In the case of canals, it may have been the most obvious thing in the world that transporting goods via waterway was more efficient than by cart and ox; but the the skills and technology required to build the ambitious canal projects of the late 18th century U.S. were virtually absent in the burgeoning republic. Thus it took Washington’s company 17 years to build the 1,800-yard canal at Great Falls (one of five in the Patowmac plan). He would not live to see it completed.

As someone who is paid to predict the future, or at least to try to anticipate trends before they are obvious, I think about Gwern’s essay quite often. It has a vaguely fatalistic tint to it. Founders may know the future, but the only way to learn whether it’s time for the future to arrive and whether conditions are economically suitable is to throw themselves at the problem. In practice, ‘transformative’ technologies involve numerous failed attempts before one finally hits at the right time. But the tragedy is that you have to be irrationally optimistic to have a chance at hitting. Almost definitionally, winners will be attempting to pull off a similar idea which has failed many times before.

This is why Gwern says that the future is built “by individuals acting suboptimally on the personal level, but optimally on societal level by serving as random exploration.”

In Washington’s case, he couldn’t achieve sufficient political buy-in to get the multilateral canal project off the ground as the returns from a canal were not sufficiently obvious in the pre-industrial era and serious canal-building technologies were not yet available. The subsequent C&O canal did much better, as transporting coal to the coast made a lot of sense — although it’s worth noting that the C&O canal was nearly obsolete upon completion in 1850, as the B&O railroad had already reached Cumberland by that time. So canals were a kind of cursed technology, at least in the agrarian and industrializing USA. When they were really needed, they were impractical and costly to build; and once they could be built economically, railroads quickly supplanted them.

All of that said, the towpaths along the contemporary remnants of the canals, especially the C&O Canal, make for a really nice crushed gravel bike path today. I like to think that Washington, an itinerant rambler at heart, would have felt that it worked out quite nicely after all.

Your faithful correspondent,


Peter Johnson (BH Digital) on the Relentless rise of Stablecoins (EP.451)

For our second episode in the Stables 2.0 miniseries, Peter Johnson, co-head of Venture at Brevan Howard Digital, returns to the show to talk about his latest theses on stablecoins. In this episode:

  • The origins of Peter’s interest in stables
  • We review Peter’s prior stablecoin predictions
  • USDC versus USDT market share trends
  • Peter’s main takeaways from the Relentless Rise paper
  • Stablecoin usage on BSC and TRON
  • Peter’s views on PYUSD
  • The emergence of interest-bearing stablecoins
  • How synthetic USD stablecoins might work
  • Stablecoin comparisons to the Eurodollar market
  • We make some predictions

Further reading:


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Martin Carrica (Mountain Protocol) on creating an interest-bearing stablecoin (EP. 450)

Martin Carrica, cofounder of Mountain Protocol, joins us to discuss their launch of their USDM, permissionless interest-bearing stablecoin. In this episode:

  • Martin’s story and origins of his desire to create a stablecoin
  • Obtaining a registered digital assets company in Bermuda
  • Martin’s review of regulatory options worldwide and how they ended up in Bermuda
  • How Bermuda has distinguished itself from other financial hubs in the Atlantic
  • How reinsurance is like stablecoins
  • What it takes to get licensed as a digital asset business in Bermuda
  • How Mountain Protocol’s USDM stablecoin works
  • How rebasing stablecoins work – and how they integrate in DeFi
  • How USDM differs from on-chain T bills and other interest bearing stable products
  • How USDM was able to achieve a permissionless structure
  • How Mountain avoids US clients
  • Why the market for stablecoins is mostly ex-US
  • Stablecoins as a backend for emerging market fintechs
  • Different exchange rates in Argentina
  • How Argentine firms use Argentine ADR stocks to manage their corporate cash
  • How street moneychangers on the street in Argentina work
  • Milei and the prospects for dollarization in Argentina
  • The importance of a stablecoin being issued out of a bankruptcy remote structure


  • USDM and other Mountain Protocol products and services are not available for U.S. persons as well as other restrictied jurisctions. 
  • For more information and disclosures on Mountain Protocol, please refer to the Terms and Conditions.

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Weekly Roundup 09/08/23 (The Bitcoin security budget, Visa onboards stables, 2 years of El Salvador law) (EP.449)

Matt and Nic are back with another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Ryan Salame pleads guilty
  • Our thoughts on the latest turn of the Bitcoin security budget debate
  • What are the prospects for fees to develop on Bitcoin long term?
  • Is blockcspace a race to the bottom?
  • Visa adds merchant settlement tools for USDC on Solana
  • The significance of Visa’s move toward merchant settlement with stablecoins
  • CBOE files for spot Ether ETFs
  • We reflect on El Salvador’s Bitcoin law
  • The FASB moves to fair value accounting for Bitcoin
  • Greenpeace files a comment letter on the GlobalX Bitcoin trust
  • Are the ESG tides turning for Bitcoin mining?
  • Has El Salvador’s Bitcoin project been a failure?

Sponsor notes:

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Lee Bratcher (Texas Blockchain Council) on PoR legislation in TX (EP.448)

We sit down with Lee Bratcher, President and Founder of the Texas Blockchain Council. Lee is one of the primary architects of Texas’ Proof of Reserve bill, now in effect. In this episode:

  • The origin of the TBC
  • Why Lee is moving their Summit to Ft Worth
  • Notable legislative successes by the TBC in Texas
  • The importance of getting the UCC to recognize digital assets
  • The importance of Bitcoin mining
  • The origins of HB1666
  • Why PoR legislation benefited from the industry spontaneously adopting the standard
  • How the TX PoR bill emerged as a compromise
  • How Lee expects this to become model legislation in other states
  • Comparing PoR to established financial statement audits
  • The importance of frequency in Proof of Reserve
  • The lack of accounting firms that are willing to supervise PoR
  • How would PoR dealt with issues at Gox, Quadriga, FTX, or Prime Trust?
  • How are companies operating in Texas reacting to the bill?
  • Future legistlative directions
  • The role of stablecoins in upholding the role of the dollar
  • The lost authority of the states in chartering banks

Further reading on PoR:


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Weekly Roundup 09/01/23 (SEC loses vs Grayscale, Impact Theory implications) (EP.447)

Matt and Nic are back for another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Tether is actually the most interventionist stablecoin when it comes to freezing
  • Should we be bullish on PYUSD?
  • Why stablecoin data shows meaningful utility for public blockchains
  • Is the idea of a ‘crypto generalist’ dead?
  • The meaning of the SEC’s loss in court to Grayscale
  • Why the SEC was ‘arbitrary and capricious’
  • The SEC’s blunder over their approval of Futs ETFs
  • The SEC’s possible options
  • Our guesses for how the SEC reacts to their loss
  • The SEC delays other pending spot ETFs
  • The SEC wins against Impact Theory
  •  Why the case against Impact Theory could implicate a lot of other NFT projects
  • Uniswap wins a class action case
  • What does the SEC’s case against Binance being under seal mean?

Content mentioned:

Sponsor notes:

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Weekly Roundup 08/25/23 (Coinbase v Circle, Tornado Cash indictment, chat app tokens) (EP.446)

Matt and Nic are back for more news and deals. In this episode:

  • The Bitcoin halving is coming up
  • We review the Republican Presidential debate
  • We review the state of New Jersey
  • Coinbase takes a stake in Circle
  • Hidden tensions between Coinbase and Circle
  • BH Digital releases a stablecoin report
  • USDC is challenged due to their inability to pay interest
  • The DoJ charges the founders of Tornado Cash with AML and sanctions violations
  • Did the Tornado Cash token hurt the founders’ case?
  • The problem with chat apps creating their own tokens
  • FTX is working with Galaxy to liquidate some crypto
  • SBF isn’t happy with his prison meals
  • Prime Trust was up to some shenanigans

Content mentioned:

Sponsor notes:

The post Weekly Roundup 08/25/23 (Coinbase v Circle, Tornado Cash indictment, chat app tokens) (EP.446) appeared first on On the Brink Podcast.

Darshan Vaidya (Credora) on Risk Management and Credit Markets (EP.445)

Darshan Vaidya, the founder of Credora joins the show. In this episode we discuss:

  • The crypto credit markets, what went wrong in the last cycle and how the market functions today
  • Thoughts on Real-World-Assets on chain
  • Comparisons of risk management approaches in tradfi versus crypto markets
  • How Credora is working with firms to protect customers from idiosyncratic risk
  • The capital raising environment

To learn more about Credora visit

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Weekly Roundup 08/18/23 (Stablecoins offshoring, Better Markets oddity, more Prometheum) (EP.444)

Matt and Nic return for another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Geographic distribution for USDC v USDT
  • Blockchains have become dollarized
  • What’s the deal with Helium’s phone plan?
  • SBF heads to jail
  • We inaugurate a new member of the bad boys
  • Dubai regulators fines OPNX
  • What’s up with Argentina’s Libertarian presidential candidate?
  • We need a new theme song for the SEC
  • The Prometheum saga rumbles on
  • What’s going on with Better Markets?
  • Coinbase can now offer Bitcoin and ETH futures
  • FTX and Genesis reach a settlement

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Weekly Roundup 08/11/23 (PayPal’s stablecoin, the Fed’s oversight program, Ryan Salame emerges) (EP.443)

Matt and Nic are back with more news and deals. In this episode:

  • Matt’s op-ed in Coindesk
  • SAB121 is still bad
  • SEC scope creep
  • We investigate PayPal’s stablecoin
  • Why would PayPal want to issue a stablecoin?
  • What does PYUSD mean for Operation Choke Point for 2.0?
  • Why PYUSD is being launched on Ethereum
  • Crypto as a flashpoint for state versus federal banking oversight
  • The Fed’s new crypto oversight program
  • Banks still can’t issue stablecoins in the US
  • Ryan Salame reemerges
  • What will become of Ryan Salame’s restaurant empire?
  • SBF will indeed be prosecuted on campaign finance violations
  • SBF’s trial will not be televised
  • LK-99 did NOT replicate

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Weekly Roundup 08/04/23 (SEC vs HEX, Base and BALD, Curve hacked) (EP.442)

Matt and Nic are back for more deals and news. In this episode:

  • Nic’s early Do Kwon experience
  • Reflecting back on Terra/Luna
  • The SEC charges Richard Heart and HEX
  • Is the SEC’s case against Richard Heart flimsy?
  • Does the SEC deserve praise for coming after HEX?
  • Kyle Davies thinks he’s immune from prosecution because he gave up his US citizenship
  • Who’s behind the BALD rugpull?
  • Implications of the Curve hack
  • We look at Tether’s asset portfolio
  • Kenya suspends Worldcoin operations in the country
  • Is there an account firm choke point?
  • Ethereum future ETFs are filed
  • Judge Rakoff dissents from the Torres doctrine

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Weekly Roundup 07/28/23 (Market Structure bill advances, stablecoin catch-22, debanking in the UK) (EP.441)

Matt and Nic are back with another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Nic’s issues editing the show
  • Why Washington is attacking PoR
  • Why Big 4 audit firms aren’t working on PoR
  • The Financial Innovation and Technology in the 21st Century bill (FIT) passes out of committee in the House
  • Six Democrats defect and support the bill
  • The Stablecoin bill reaches an impasse because the White House
  • Why stablecoins being limited to the banks is a paradox
  • The SEC settles with Quantstamp
  • SBF gets a gag order because he released Caroline Ellison’s diaries
  • SBF did actually pay for his legal defense with stolen FTX customer money
  • The UK gets embroiled in a banking scandal due to Nigel Farage
  • We digest the room temperature ambient pressure superconductor news
  • Nic’s pickleball injury

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The post Weekly Roundup 07/28/23 (Market Structure bill advances, stablecoin catch-22, debanking in the UK) (EP.441) appeared first on On the Brink Podcast.

Richard Meissner (Safe) on Account Abstraction Adoption and Barriers (EP.440)

In this episode, we hosted Richard Meissner, CTO of Safe, to illuminate the state of adoption of smart contract wallets following the roll out of ERC-4337 (an effort to standardize account abstraction on Ethereum). Our conversation covers:
  • The limitations of smart contract wallets in a multi-chain universe
  • Account recovery and hybrid custody using traditional institutions
  • Combining account abstraction with intents and AI
  • Worldcoin’s use of Safes and adoption of smart contract accounts
Find additional content by Safe on account abstraction here.

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The crypto industry is embracing self regulation. It’s time Washington gets on board

Public blockchains have been touted as cure-alls by enthusiasts over the last decade. Promoters have promised faster securities settlement, decentralized social media, instant payments, cheaper remittances, and everything in between. And indeed, these benefits may come in time. But there’s one domain in which blockchains clearly outperform their traditional counterparts today: accounting.

Blockchains track debits and credits to accounts on a ledger, just like an ordinary accounting system, but in a real-time, transparent, and immutable fashion (once transfers are settled). The existence of any asset that resides on a blockchain—whether a tokenized security, or a digital commodity like Bitcoin—is fully verifiable at any time by anyone with an internet connection. The entire supply of Bitcoin, down to the tiniest unit—one satoshi—can be verified in real time by anyone running a node. What’s more, any entity can prove mathematically to any third party that they own a digital asset via a cryptographic signature, without the need for any guarantor. This isn’t the case for traditional assets or commodities, which rely on a network of intermediaries to attest to their existence. In practice, this means financial assets end up concentrated in large custodians, like the DTC with equities, or gold with organizations like the LBMA. The high cost of auditability for conventional assets tends to have a concentrating effect.

This remarkable auditability property of digital assets has enabled crypto platforms to build attestation tools enabling end users to verify that their assets are actually being held in reserve, and don’t simply exist on someone else’s ledger, subject to error or fraud. And these tools are long overdue. For as long as crypto exchanges and custodians have existed, they have let down their users with a series of spectacular failures—one crisis after the next from Mt. Gox to Bitfinex to Quadriga to FTX and, most recently, Prime Trust. Those of us who believe in the promise of digital assets are fed up with this grim status quo and have begun to demand more transparency from the exchanges we all rely on.

As a result, exchanges and custodial platforms today are coalescing around a simple idea: What if these platforms could indisputably prove to users that they control funds held for users? This is known in the industry as a proof of reserve, or PoR. The concept has existed in the digital asset context for around a decade, and it has been continually refined ever since. Effectively, it involves a custodial platform providing signatures attesting to their unique ownership over some digital assets on-chain, combined with a disclosure of client liabilities. By publishing these datasets, and giving end users—and even interested onlookers—the option to actually verify that a given liability corresponds to some assets, clients can gain strong assurances that the platform is sound.

Legislative initiatives both at the state and federal level have focused on asking exchanges to segregate client and operating capital, and to give clients assurances in the case of platform liquidation or bankruptcy. This is necessary, but only part of the solution. Prime Trust, which recently revealed it had lost $82 million in client assets and hid those losses for years, was a Nevada Trust company. The architecture of the Trust Charter, ironclad from a legal perspective, unfortunately did little to reveal the loss of assets. A monthly—or even higher frequency—attestation, as is the standard with PoR, would have forced divulging the loss when it first occurred, because Prime Trust would not have been able to provide valid signatures for user funds held. This would have also been the case with Mt. Gox, Quadrigra, and FTX. These were all drawn out insolvencies, concealed for months if not years. An exchange engaging in PoR attestations isn’t immune from losing customer funds or being hacked, but the PoR does reveal these losses when they occur, limiting further fallout.

In the wake of FTX, PoR is now being voluntarily adopted across the industry. Many of the largest exchanges worldwide, including Kraken, Binance, Bitmex, Derebit, Kucoin, and OKX, now conduct these attestations with frequency, covering tens of billions of dollars in client assets.

Lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad have begun to recognize the importance of PoR. In March, Texas passed the landmark HB1666, which requires firms with money transmitter licenses to carry out PoRs, starting in September. At the federal level, Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) included in their reintroduced Responsible Financial Innovation Act mandatory PoR and a request for PCAOB to standardize the procedure.

Since 2021, Wyoming has made reference to proof of reserve in the state’s Digital Asset Custody Framework. Dubai (see Reserve Assets) and Singapore (see Regulation 16C(11)) have also made reference to similar on- and off-chain reconciliations in recent guidance. Canada has recommended since 2021 that exchanges engage in PoR as a best practice. Bermuda, which is distinguishing itself as a premier crypto-focused regulator, has maintained an explicit reference to proof of reserve in its Digital Assets Custody Code of Practice since 2019. PoR is neither new nor limited in its reach to a handful of enthusiasts. It has existed for years and has already been embraced by regulators worldwide.

That doesn’t mean PoR is without its critics. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have engaged in a campaign of harassment leveled at auditors who service crypto firms. They aim to stymie the crypto space by stripping it of CPA firm services, which are necessary for platforms operating in compliance with MTLs and similar regulatory regimes. In a recent letter to the PCAOB, they attacked PoR and called it a “sham audit.” The PCAOB duly released an advisory letter warning investors about PoR attestations. Frightening audit firms away from a fit-for-purpose form of assurance is the opposite of what a reasonable accounting regulator should do. For its part, the AICPA has demurred on issuing any guidance on PoR even though it’s progressing on stablecoin attestation standards. This uncertainty has had the effect of leaving most CPA firms unwilling to supervise these procedures. We in the industry are pushing for more sunlight, but some lawmakers in Washington aim to leave us in the dark.

The standard critiques of PoR have largely been addressed. PoR is not contemplated as a substitute for standard audit types but rather as a complement. Mindful of this, the Texas legislation blends traditional and crypto-native assurance, asking for PoRs but also for CPAs to supervise them. Specialist CPA firms have emerged with expertise in overseeing these procedures. Traditional assurance is fine, but it’s no substitute for a high-frequency proof to end users that custodians have their funds. And while early PoRs ran the risk of leaking client data, innovations—such as zero-knowledge proofs—allow PoRs to be done safely.

We are not asking crypto exchanges to be held to a different standard from conventional custodians. In fact, a frequent proof-of-reserve attestation provides far more transparency than conventional custodians can offer. It’s not a substitute to standard audits but rather a more narrow complement—it enhances conventional audits. Together, the two provide a level of assurance not otherwise attainable. We ask simply that Washington stop undermining the industry’s efforts to clean itself up, recognize the validity of PoR, and facilitate its proliferation across the industry. Lawmakers should encourage the accounting standards setting bodies, like the FASB or the PCAOB, to ratify industry efforts around PoR so audit firms feel empowered to supervise them. And they should recognize the good work that custodians are already doing to make themselves more transparent and accountable.

The crypto industry is working hard to gain back trust. If PoR becomes widespread and standardized, we will exceed the level of assurance that custodians can offer with traditional assets. This is a worthy goal, and one that Washington should support.

Nic Carter is the cofounder of blockchain-focused investment firm Castle Island Ventures and the cofounder of blockchain data company Coin Metrics. The opinions expressed in commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

Weekly Roundup 07/21/23 (Nasdaq reconsiders custody, the Torres doctrine) (EP.439)

Matt and Nic are back with more deals and news. In this episode:

  • Was XRP discovered or created?
  • The saga of Otter 841
  • Matt’s wildlife trouble
  • More SAB121 chaos
  • Rep Ritchie Torres sends Gensler a tough letter
  • What is the Torres Doctrine?
  • Terraform labs has a new CEO
  • Our theories for why Nasdaq pulled the plug on their crypto custody business
  • The IRS is auditing the crypto rich in PR
  • We bring back our triple threat segment

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Weekly Roundup 07/14/23 (Ripple gets a W, Machinsky arrested, PoR in federal legislation) (EP.438)

Matt and Nic are back with a huge week in the markets. In this episode:

  • Ripple gets a key win in their summary judgment versus the SEC
  • Implications for XRP holders
  • Implications for exchanges and other tokens
  • Prometheum’s denials about their ties to the CCP don’t hold water How Prometheum is a Potemkin platform
  • Alex Machinsky has been arrested
  • Arkham’s tokensale and doxing snafu
  • The Lummis Gillebrand bill gets a facelift and incorporates PoR
  • The prospects for the Lummis Gillebrand bill
  • Updates on the piping plovers
  • Why Threads isn’t going to make it

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Amir Haleem (Nova Labs) on Helium, DEPIN, and DeWi (EP.437)

Amir Haleem, the founder of Nova Labs (formerly named Helium, Inc) joins the show. In this episode we discuss:

  • The origin of Helium and the Helium network
  • Amir’s views on L1 blockchains and the path that the company took in evaluating building its own chain versus building on an existing L1.
  • Decentralized Physical Infrastructure (DEPIN) and Decentralized Wireless (DEWI) as emerging categories demonstrating real-world applicability of public blockchains.
  • The various tokens in the Helium ecosystem and how they interact.
  • MVNOs and how Helium Mobile is positioned.
  • The regulatory landscape in the United States and how Helium has navigated these waters.

To learn more about Helium visit:


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Weekly Roundup 07/07/23 (Taylor Swift’s FTX secret, XRP vs glazed donuts, ETF seeding) (EP.436)

Matt and Nic are back for more deals and news. In this episode:

  • Matt’s plover rivalry
  • Matt’s struggles against animals
  • Taylor Swift actually did sign that partnership with FTX
  • Are Eras tour tickets securities?
  • Lightning in emerging markets
  • Could we build the SR-71 today?
  • How Ripple was 90% right about XRP being the bridge currency for remittances
  • ETF applications hiccup
  • More SAB121 issues
  • Matt’s cigar snafu
  • Why ETF seeding will be a source of buy pressure

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Jose Lemus (IBEX Mercado) on Lightning adoption in Emerging Markets (EP.435)

Jose Lemus, CEO and cofounder at IBEX Mercado, joins the show to talk Lightning and its growing usage in emerging markets. In this episode:

  • The origins of IBEX
  • How IBEX clients are using LN in emerging markets
  • How Lightning as a settlement layer for cross-border interbank payments
  • Lightning as a bridge currency
  • Why stablecoins make sense on Lightning
  • Why EM firms have an affinity for Lightning
  • IBEX’s partnership with Grupo Salinas and how they are introducing Lightning to Mexican households
  • Lightning as an emerging remittance tool
  • Why Mexico is a good fight for Lightning adoption
  • Is Jose satisfied with Lightning’s maturity as a protocol
  • How Bitcoin’s market cap is the ultimate bandwidth for Lightning
  • Why Lightning reimagines the established batched payments model
  • Jose’s answer to the biggest critique of Lightning at present

Further reading:

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Weekly Roundup 06/30/23 (ETF frenzy continues, Prime Trust insolvency, how Stablecoins are like Eurodollars) (EP.434)

Matt and Nic return for another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • The problem with SEC SAB 121
  • Pickleball is driving up American healthcare costs
  • Microstrategy buys some more Bitcoin
  • Fidelity refiles their Wise Origin Bitcoin ETF
  • Why the Prime Trust insolvency is so bad
  • Will there be Prime Trust clawbacks?
  • The SEC is slacking with their document retention policies
  • How stablecoins are mirroring the development of eurodollars
  • How Prometheum’s listing strategy might pose a risk to certain cryptoassets
  • The UK law commission determines that digital assets are a new kind of “thing”

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  • Coin Metrics’ State of the Network: Bitcoin & the Rest 
  • In this issue of State of the Network, we assess Bitcoin’s resurgence and gauge market sentiment amidst a rapidly evolving digital asset landscape marked by regulatory ambiguity and external macro events.

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Weekly Roundup 06/23/23 (FTX and K5 clawbacks, Prime Trust chaos, ETF frenzy) (EP.433)

Matt and Nic are back for another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Bitcoin hits 30k
  • Wyoming’s stable token developments
  • The story behind FTX’s mammoth $500m outflow to K5 global
  • Why was SBF spending hundreds of millions cozying up to talent agents?
  • Do Kwon will spend 4 months in jail in Montenegro
  • The Bitgo Prime Trust acquisition falls apart
  • Deutche Bank applies for a crypto license in Germany
  • EDX officially launches
  • Blackrock files for their ETF and others follow
  • Our theory for why Blackrock is filing now
  • Is the SEC back-channeling to Blackrock?
  • Was surveillance sharing really a blocker for other ETF applications?
  • Does the notion of spot market surveillance even make sense for a global commodity?
  • What’s the deal with the Bitcoin bathhouse in Brooklyn?

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Chris Rothfuss on Wyoming’s Blockchain Strategy & the WY Stable Token (EP.432)

Wyoming state senator and Minority Floor Leader in the Wyoming Senate, Chris Rothfuss joins the show. We cover Wyoming’s crypto efforts to date to create a stable and secure digital asset ecosystem. In this episode:

  • Senator’s Rothfuss’ pre-politics career and how he came to grapple with the crypto space
  • Why Wyoming has an opportunity in digital asset policy
  • The origins of Wyoming’s blockchain select committee
  • How the NY Bitlicense inspired Wyoming’s efforts
  • Why crypto policy isn’t politically polarized in Wyoming
  • Wyoming’s foundational move to recognize digital assets under the uniform commercial code
  • The origin of the SPDI charter
  • Is there a future for the SPDI given that the Fed is denying master accounts?
  • How Wyoming’s SPDI emerged as a consequence of Chokepoint 1.0
  • Is the Fed blocking state charters unconstitutional?
  • Wyoming’s Stable Token Act and the prospects for that product
  • How the WY Stable Token could be a huge windfall for Wyoming – and where the revenues would be directed
  • How Wyoming is thinking about the permissionless qualities of the stable token

Further reading:

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Weekly Roundup 06/16/23 (Prometheum madness, the Hinman emails, HK’s crypto banking play) (EP.431)

Matt and Nic are back for another week of news and deals. In this episode:

  • Coin Metrics derives new estimates of Bitcoin’s electricity consumption
  • Nic reviews his Lasik experience
  • Matt takes Prometheum to task
  • Is Prometheum a patsy for the SEC?
  • Why is vaporware being elevated by the SEC and major exchanges being stymied?
  • We digest the Hinman emails and what they mean for ETH and XRP
  • What do the Hinman emails mean for the SEC’s
  • The SEC attempts to make DeFi protocols register as exchanges
  • Blackrock is about to file a renewed application for a Bitcoin ETF
  • Reps Davidson and Emmer’s SEC Stabilization Act
  • Hong Kong is pressuring banks to service crypto firms
  • Coindesk gets their hands on the NYAG’s Tether reports
  • Abra is in trouble

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Weekly Roundup 06/09/23 (SEC v Coinbase and Binance, Market Structure bill, the curious case of Prometheum) (EP.430)

Matt and Nic return for another week of deals and news. In this episode:

  • Token disclosure practices
  • Matt tries pickleball
  • Sequoia is breaking up into parts
  • Will Chinese and American capital markets be severed?
  • What’s in the proposed House market structure bill?
  • Coinbase sues Coinbase and Binance
  • How does the SEC think BUSD is a security?
  • The SEC approves Prometheum as a crypto broker dealer
  • Prometheum’s CCP ties
  • Did Gensler solicit Binance to advice them before he ran the SEC?
  • What’s going on with Prime Trust?

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Lili Infante (CAT Labs) on Combating and Preventing Crypto Crime (EP.429)

In this episode, we sat down with Lili Infante, Founder and CEO of CAT Labs. Lili shared:

  • Her experience spearheading the formation of the crypto taskforce at the DOJ
  • How the crypto-enabled crime landscape has evolved and become more sophisticated
  • Investigating cases where crypto is used and the unique challenges in establishing a chain of custody
  • Products CAT Labs is building to more effectively recover digital assets and protect against situations where assets are compromised in the first place

Learn more about Cat Labs in Fortune and on their website.

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