Binance hires former banking watchdog days after CZ talks about industry regulation

  • Binance has appointed a former head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) who is credited for allowing US banks to be crypto custodians.
  • The latest appointment signifies a commitment by Binance to keep up with Coinbase but largely reveals a new progressive phase for crypto exchanges.

Cryptocurrencies have been pumping, pushing with them the growth of crypto-focused companies including wallets, custodians, payment service providers and mainly, exchanges. Binance, which is the leading spot exchange by trading volume, has stood out in recent months – now even more as it appoints a former top banking regulator as the head of Binance.US according to the Wall Street Journal.

The new appointee, Brian Brooks, has ties to Washington. In fact,  he is credited for US banks becoming crypto custodians. Under the Trump administration, Brooks was an acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a position he held for eight months. In that period he was operating in Washington, the OCC approved all nationally chartered banks to hold cryptocurrencies. This marked a major development in the crypto industry, opening doors to mass adoption. Brooks’ appointment can be viewed as a return into the market having worked as the chief legal officer of Coinbase.

CZ: Binance wants regulations

Following his confirmation, the new CEO of the U.S subsidiary confirmed that he is keen on making Binance a key competitor of Coinbase. He further confirmed that regulatory compliance will be a key agenda.

I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t have a strong commitment from the board to lead a strong compliance program.

The move by Binance has signaled a need to stay updated with crypto regulations. This is as reports emerge that the Biden administration is working on crypto regulations. Although these are still in the early stages, they are believed to be focused on crypto infrastructure and taxation.

All these developments curiously come just days after Binance CEO stated in a Clubhouse conversation that if he was a regulator, he would be keen on regulating the crypto industry.

Exchanges step up crypto compliance

The appointment of a former government official into a crypto firm is not new. Just a few weeks ago, Coinbase appointed Brett Redfearn. The former director with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now heads the Coinbase capital markets division. One of the key reasons for these kinds of hires is to ensure the exchange has an ear in Washington. As a relatively new industry, crypto exchanges are prone to radical policies. Four years ago, this was the case in China as the government abruptly banned crypto trading and initiated a crackdown of exchanges.

As we reported, Coinbase went public through a direct listing, ushering in a new phase in the development of the industry. Although its main competitor Binance has revealed it has no immediate plans to list, the listing could still trigger a snowball effect. Kraken is weighing its options to go public in 2022. Furthermore, eToro which offers crypto trading has also recently revealed it will go public later in the year.

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