Apr 26, 2021 - Economy

Crypto's revolving door ushers former D.C. insiders into executive ranks

Illustration of a revolving door with a crypto coin floor and top

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Some of cryptocurrency’s most prominent rule-makers are increasingly taking executive gigs at industry upstarts. Call it the cryptocurrency revolving door.

Why it matters: A longtime phenomenon for other sectors is picking up pace in the crypto sphere — which is maturing, trying to find its mainstream footing and desperate for regulatory clarity.

Former D.C. insiders for years joined the industry's executive ranks.

  • What's new now: These latest executives and advisers are those who helped shape important regulatory developments in the crypto landscape.

The latest: Brian Brooks is the new CEO of crypto exchange Binance.US., the company said last week.

  • Brooks was the last head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bank regulator. Before that, he was the chief legal officer at Binance’s rival, Coinbase.
  • The OCC under his watch approved crypto firm Anchorage for a federal bank charter, an industry first.

What they’re saying: “[A]s I tried to show as head of the OCC, we need better clarity in this country to let people productively invest in this new and important technology. … One of the things I’m going to do at Binance.US is to help continue to shape that dialogue,” Brooks told CNBC.

Also last week: Bitcoin lender BlockFi added its newest board member Christopher "Crypto Dad" Giancarlo, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

  • Two stock exchanges started offering bitcoin futures trading for the first time when Giancarlo ran the CFTC.

The bottom line via Axios’ Kia Kokalitcheva: There’s a lag in regulatory clarity and legislation around cryptocurrency. Companies are leaning on insiders — the few who have worked on the government side of crypto — to cope. 

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