Coinbase Hires Former Fannie Mae Exec as New Chief Legal Officer

Former Fannie Mae counsel Brian Brooks has joined Coinbase as its new Chief Legal Officer to lead the exchange’s legal, compliance and government affairs.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has hired on former Fannie Mae General Counsel Brian Brooks as their new Chief Legal Officer, according to an announcement published September 19. At Coinbase, Brooks will be responsible for legal, compliance, and government affairs.

Prior to Coinbase, Brooks served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of the U.S. Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae. The association purchases qualifying mortgages from lenders, which it then bundles in bonds and sells to investors. In 2017, Fannie Mae reportedly provided $570 billion in mortgage financing.

Brooks also participated in managing OneWest Bank, N.A.’s senior regulatory relationships, while acting as a senior advisor to the bank’s CEO. Before joining OneWest, Brooks held managerial positions at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Financial Services Practice Group.

Mike Lempres, who has previously led Coinbase’s legal function, will now lead the company’s government affairs program, such as the exchange’s participation in the recently founded Blockchain Association, in addition to managing the Coinbase political action committee (PAC).

The Washington-based Blockchain Association was formed by a group of American blockchain and crypto companies earlier this month, with Coinbase as a founding member. The association claims to be the first lobbying group representing the blockchain industry in Washington D.C.

Coinbase founded its own PAC in July 2018. In the U.S., PACs are political organizations that allow individuals with similar policy goals and ideologies to pool campaign contributions and donate them to political campaigns for or against candidates, legislation, or ballot initiatives.

This week is marked with another notable appointment at Coinbase, as former LinkedIn executive Michael Li joined the exchange as the vice-president of data. Speaking about his new position, Li outlined that data is an “essential” aspect of empowering Coinbase’s mission, as well as the “core strategy” to providing “the most trusted and easiest-to-use” crypto services.

In August, Coinbase hired former Amazon Web Services and Microsoft employee Tim Wagner as vice-president of engineering. Wagner will reportedly lead Coinbase’s engineering team, which is “central to [Coinbase’s] mission of creating an open financial system for the world.”

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Former Twitch Senior Vice President of Marketing Joins Crypto Startup Kin as CMO

The Kin Ecosystem Foundation has appointed a former executive of Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch as its chief marketing officer.

Former Twitch exec Matthew DiPietro has joined crypto startup Kin Ecosystem Foundation as chief marketing officer (CMO), PR Newswire reports September 18.

After serving eight years as senior vice president at the popular live streaming platform Twitch, DiPietro will now be responsible for developing marketing and brand strategies for Kin, the cryptocurrency launched by Kik Interactive, as specified on the expert’s LinkedIn profile.

According to PR Newswire, DiPietro drove brand development for Twitch, as well as led all marketing projects, including the launch of community convention TwitchCon that is devoted to Twitch and the culture of video game streaming.

Having started his career at Twitch as the only marketing specialist in 2010, DiPietro developed a department of more than 40 employees working on brand marketing, content marketing, creative initiatives, events, product marketing, and communications.

Following the new appointment, DiPietro commented on his new position at the crypto startup in a Reddit post, stating that assisting the “adoption of a transformative technology,” which is able to “fundamentally change the relationship between consumers and developers” is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Launched in 2011, the Twitch live streaming video service is now a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon, which acquired Twitch Interactive for around $970 million in August 2014. Also in 2014, Twitch first started accepting Bitcoin (BTC) payments, resuming the option through the Coinbase payment processing gateway in August 2016, following previous issues with Bitcoin payments via Xsolla.

Recently, Twitch streaming application Streamlabs announced it started accepting tips in cryptocurrency via Coinbase’s crypto exchange and wallet. The first coins available as tips are the ones supported by Coinbase, including Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). New coins will reportedly be added in the future along with new listings on Coinbase, as the crypto exchange and wallet announced it was examining the addition of five new coins in July.

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US Regulator Acts Against Crypto Firm Falsely Claiming to Represent Coinbase, Cointelegraph

The Texas Securities Commission has issued an emergency cease and desist order against a Russian crypto firm for misleading representation.

The Texas Securities Commission (TSC) has issued an emergency cease and desist order against a Russian crypto firm, according to an official press release published September 18. The Texas regulator states that the company allegedly misappropriated both Coinbase and Cointelegraph materials to attract investors.

The firm, operating as Coins Miner Investment Ltd., is said to have spoofed the email address of major U.S. crypto exchange and wallet service provider Coinbase in order to make its email solicitations to investors seem as if they were endorsed by the entity.

The cease-and-desist order states that Coins Miner falsely claimed to be registered at a U.K. address, whereas the firm was in fact operating from Volgograd in Russia. It is charged with sending unsolicited emails to numerous recipients — including Texas residents — luring them to purchase investments in crypto mining programs issued by Coins Miner.

At the center of the order is a Coins Miner affiliate “Ana Julia Lara,” who is charged with falsely depicting herself as a Coinbase crypto trader, as well as misappropriating a photograph of “herself” posing with the president of crypto company Ripple.

The person in the photograph is in fact one of Cointelegraph’s vice presidents, and is not the Coins Miner scammer “Lara,” according to the cease-and-desist:

“Respondent Lara is telling potential investors she met the president of Ripple and [is] providing potential investors with a photograph that purports to depict her and the president of Ripple. The photograph does not depict Respondent Lara. Instead the photograph depicts a vice president at CoinTelegraph Media Group [sic].”

Third parties reporting on the matter have confusingly described the cease-and-desist order, with media outlet Finance Feeds erroneously writing that “the person identified as Lara is [editor’s emphasis added] a vice president of CoinTelegraph Media Group [sic].” Cointelegraph officially denies all connection with the person “Ana Julia Lara.”

Coins Miner is further charged with publishing a “phony” video that “falsely” depicts its facilities, engineers, and financial professionals, and with using “fake” photos that purport to show the interior of its office suite, but are in fact stock Internet photographs available for purchase online.

It is also charged with misappropriating a video of a Fortune journalist discussing crypto next to a superimposed Coins Miner logo. According to the TSC press release, “neither the journalist nor Fortune authorized the use of the video, which was filmed for Fortune as part of its coverage of cryptocurrencies.”

Alongside these charges of misleading and deceptive representations, the TSC deems the investments in Coins Miner to be securities, and their unregistered sale in Texas to therefore be in violation of Section 12 of the Securities Act.

TSC also issued two further cease-and-desist orders on the same day, September 18: one against “DGBK Ltd., an offshore digital “bank” that says it has developed hack-proof storage for virtual currencies”; and Ultimate Assets LLC, a “supposed crypto and foreign exchange trader.”

Earlier this month, in what appeared to be the first U.S. court to address the matter, a New York federal judge ruled that U.S. securities laws are applicable for prosecuting crypto fraud allegations.

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Former Linkedin Data Executive Joins Coinbase as VP of Data

A former LinkedIn exec has joined Coinbase as its VP of data, claiming that data organization is “still a new concept for many companies.”

Former LinkedIn executive Michael Li has recently joined major U.S. crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase as the VP of data, TechCrunch reports September 18.

Li started his career at LinkedIn as Director of Business Analytics back in 2011. The expert has been growing his professional experience at the the business and employment-oriented company, working on business analytics and data science.

In his LinkedIn post, Li noted that centralized data organization is a “strategic way to get the most value out of data for the company,” claiming that it is “still a new concept for many companies,” including those in Silicon Valley.

The data expert further suggested that strong data organization is “becoming the number one choice for more and more companies” in an environment of rapidly growing data and stricter data regulations.

Regarding his new position at Coinbase, Li stressed in a Medium post that data is an “essential” aspect of empowering Coinbase’s mission, as well as the “core strategy” to providing “the most trusted and easiest-to-use” crypto services, and creating data solutions for blockchain use cases.

Earlier in August, Coinbase hired former Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft employee Tim Wagner as VP of engineering. Prior to that, the crypto exchange announced that ex-Pershing exec Jeff Horowitz will join the company as Chief Compliance Officer.

In April, LinkedIn co-founder and former CTO Eric Ly launched a reputation service that allows users to verify the teams behind Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which in turn aims to help potential investors determine whether a project is legitimate.

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Fintech Investor Ribbit Capital Sets $420 Million Goal for Its Latest Fund

Venture capital firm Ribbit Capital, whose portfolio includes Coinbase and Robinhood, is planning to raise $420 million for its latest fund.

U.S.-based venture capital firm Ribbit Capital, the portfolio of which includes notable cryptocurrency and blockchain projects, is aiming to raise $420 million for its latest fund, according to an SEC filing dated September 12.

The fund will reportedly be the fifth venture of Ribbit with limited partners, while the $420 million figure is a “nominal increase” from the $300 million the company attracted last year.

Founded in 2012, Ribbit’s portfolio is marked by cooperation with such industry leaders as cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, zero-fee stock and crypto trading platform Robinhood, finance company Credit Karma, and automotive insurance platform Root Insurance.

Ribbit Capital has also invested in Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, and Cross River Bank, which according to TechCrunch provides the “sole link” between many fintech companies and regulated financial institutions.

In April, U.K.-based alternative banking app Revolut raised $250 million in a Series C investment round led by Ribbit Capital, along with two other venture capital firms DST Global and Index Ventures. The raised money gave the company an overall $1.7 billion valuation and thus making them a “unicorn” – a startup with over a $1 billion valuation.

Robinhood began offering trading services for digital currencies in February, having raised $363 million in a series D funding round and $110 million in a series C round. Following the funding rounds, Robinhood was valued at $5.6 billion, making it the second most valuable fintech startup in the U.S.

Coinbase, which was founded in 2012, has since grown to be a leader among crypto exchanges and wallet services in the U.S. This year, Coinbase extended its services when it launched Coinbase Pro, and evolution of GDAX that is geared towards individual traders. Recently, the exchange opened trading for four cryptocurrency pairs with the U.K pound sterling.

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Crypto Industry Leaders Establish Washington-Based Lobby Group

U.S. blockchain and crypto companies have founded a lobbying group to represent the interests of companies engaged in blockchain-powered projects.

A group of U.S.-based blockchain and crypto companies have announced they will form the Blockchain Association, the “first” lobbying group representing the blockchain industry in Washington D.C., the Washington Post reported September 11.

The Blockchain Association is comprised of industry leaders such as crypto exchange Coinbase, technology startup Protocol Labs, as well as the Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital. The lobbying organization will reportedly be located in Washington, representing entrepreneurs and investors who are engaged in blockchain-powered projects.

The Blockchain Association will represent mainstream companies that look to operate within the political system, primarily addressing policy issues and the treatment of cryptocurrency by U.S. tax law.

At the same time, the group will work closely with lawmakers on anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) policy development within the industry. Mike Lempres, Coinbase’s Chief Legal and Risk Officer, further explained:

“The Blockchain Association is an effort to get the preeminent companies in the space together so [policymakers] know they’re hearing from companies that welcome regulation when it’s appropriate. We’re not companies looking to game the system, but trying to develop a legal and regulatory system that’ll stand the test of time.”

Jerry Brito, executive director of the non-profit research and advocacy group Coin Center, reportedly said that the rise of a purpose-specific trade group shows the industry is maturing.

In July, Coinbase created its own political action committee (PAC) to raise money to spend on U.S. elections. In the U.S., PACs are organizations that pool campaign contributions from members with similar policy and political goals and subsequently donate them to political campaigns for or against candidates, legislation, or ballot initiatives.

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Coinbase Aims to Obtain Banking Licenses

Coinbase, the largest U.S. Bitcoin exchange, has initiated exploratory conversations with financial regulators regarding banking licenses. Coinbase and Ivy Koin Meet with U.S. Regulators About Banking Licenses Coinbase is now intent on learning how to obtain banking licenses. The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to undisclosed sources, the exchange held conversations with officials from the U.S Office of the Controller of the Currency in early 2018. According to the report: Coinbase Inc. and another cryptocurrency

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Coinbase Targets ‘$10 Bln’ Institutional Investor Market With New Suite Of Products

Major US crypto wallet and exchange service Coinbase has announced it is launching a series of new products aimed at drawing in major institutional capital.

Major US crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase has announced it is launching a suite of new products aimed at institutional investors, according to an official blog post today, May 15.

The four products – Coinbase Custody, Coinbase Markets, The Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group and Coinbase Prime – all focus on alleviating major concerns that have allegedly caused institutional investors to hold back from entering the cryptocurrency space so far, such as security and regulatory compliance.

Adam White, Coinbase vice president and general manager, was confident in telling CNBC that:

“We think this can unlock $10 billion of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline. We’re seeing a rapid increase in attention awareness and adoption in the cryptocurrency market.”

Coinbase Custody, first announced last year in an official Coinbase blog post, addresses the “number one” concern of institutional investors, namely, security. The company explains that the  custody solution for digital assets will secure clients’ funds through rigorous financial controls such as multi signatory protection, audit trails, and withdrawal limits.

Although the company reportedly already stores over $20 bln worth of clients’ crypto, according to CNBC, Coinbase Custody will be established in partnership with a third party auditor, reported to be an SEC-compliant independent broker-dealer.

Coinbase Markets, meanwhile, will be a Chicago-run electronic marketplace that provides a centralized pool of liquidity for all investors, and aims to offer settlement and clearing services in future, according to Coinbase’s announcement today. In addition, Coinbase Prime will be an separate trading platform for institutional clients.

Coinbase currently has over 20 mln customers and has already traded $150 bln in digital assets on its crypto exchange platform, according to CNBC. In 2017, it reported $1 bln in revenue, according to figures from Recode, with $225 million in VC funding from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and the New York Stock Exchange. It reportedly valued itself at around $8 bln in an acquisition deal this spring.

This month, New York Stock Exchange owner ICE announced its own plans to settle crypto swap contracts in BTC, suggesting it too has come up with an SEC-compliant custody solution for institutional holders. ICE’s announcement came just days after investment banking giant Goldman Sachs said it would be opening a crypto trading desk “within weeks.” With custody and regulatory obstacles seemingly out of the way, many have predicted that a “mature” crypto market will indeed inevitably draw major institutional investment into the space.

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