'Nasdaq Would Consider Becoming a Crypto Exchange', Says CEO

  • Nasdaq CEO says that Nasdaq will consider becoming a crypto exchange once the regulatory framework becomes more clear.
  • Nasdaq is already working with the Gemini crypto exchange to help it with detection of fraudulent trading activity.

In an interview on CNBC yesterday, Adena Friedman, the President and CEO of the world's second-largest exchange (by market capitalization), revealed that "Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange over time."

Although she stressed that a clear regulatory framework would need to be put in place first, she generally presented a bullish stance on cryptocurrencies:

I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it's just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature... Once you look at it and say, 'do we want to provide a regulated market for this?' Certainly Nasdaq would consider it.

Adena Friedman, Nasdaq CEO

This news came on the same day that Gemini Trust -- the digital asset exchange started by the Winklevoss twins in 2015 -- and Nasdaq made the announcement in a press release that Gemini was going to use Nasdaq's market surveillance service for monitoring bitcoin and ether trading as well as the auction process Gemini uses for determining the settlement  price for Bitcoin futures:

Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini) and Nasdaq Inc. (Nasdaq:NDAQ) announced today that Gemini will be leveraging Nasdaq's SMARTS Market Surveillance technology to monitor its marketplace. The technology, which is considered the most widely deployed surveillance system in the world, will enable Gemini to monitor across all of its trading pairs, including: BTC/USD, ETH/USD and BTC/ETH. Further, SMARTS will also surveil activity across the Gemini auction process that is used to determine the settlement price for the Bitcoin XBT futures contracts that trade on Cboe's CFE Exchange.

Nasdaq

Friedman then presented her thoughts on ICOs: "ICOs need to be regulated... The SEC is right that those are securities and need to be regulated as such." We must remember that Jay Clayton, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), had this to say about ICOs on 6 February 2018 in a Senate hearing on cryptocurrencies:

And I'm very unhappy that people are conducting ICOs like public offerings of stock when they should know that they should be following the private placement rules unless they're registering with us.

Jay Clayton, SEC Chairman

As for blockchain technology in general, Friedman is on the record as saying that the blockchain is "a foundational technology that we see as really having the great promise to create a lot more efficiency in global trade." Over the past few months, Nasdaq has been working with several firms offering blockchain-based exchange-traded funds (ETFs). On 17 January 2018, the first two such ETFs were launched on Nasdaq. These were the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) from Amplify ETFs and Reality Shares Nasdaq NextGen Economy ETF (BLCN) from Reality Shares

And finally, it is worth noting that Nasdaq is currently exploring the idea of launching a Bitcoin futures contract to compete with Cboe Global Markets and CME Group, which introduced Bitcoin futures trading last year. On 23 January 2018, while discussing bitcoin at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Nasdaq CEO, in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on FOX Business, made the following comments:

We are in the mode of exploring that... We want to make sure that if we choose to enter the market in terms of providing a future in the market that... we have client demand... and that we put the right management protocols in place to make it so that people feel confidence in what we are providing, and how that becomes an investable product.

Adena Friedman, Nasdaq CEO

 

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BitMEX Slammed as Roubini Raises the Stakes in War Against Crypto

Neil Dennis

Every new concept has its critics and there's none so vehemently opposed to cryptocurrencies as New York University academic Nouriel Roubini, who has just taken his most vicious swipe yet at the emerging asset class.

In an essay entitled "The Great Crypto Heist", published this week on the website Project Syndicate, the NYU Stern Business School professor accuses financial regulators of "being asleep at the wheel" while an army of unregulated exchanges, propagandists and scammers commit "rampant fraud and abuse".

He singles out crypto-derivatives exchange BitMEX as being a particular threat to retail investors. Roubini clashed earlier this month with Arthur Hayes, the chief executive of BitMEX.

Regulation

But first, the professor explains why the sector needs to be more closely monitored. The broader financial sector came under increased regulatory scrutiny following the 2008 financial crisis, to protect investors and society. 

The regulatory regime does not capture cryptocurrencies, however, which are launched and traded outside the domain of official financial oversight, he says.

The result is that crypto land has become an unregulated casino, where unchecked criminality runs riot.

BitMEX

He rounds on BitMEX, registered in the Seychelles, which offers highly-leveraged bets on the rises and falls of cryptoassets: products more broadly known as derivatives.

These investment products have come under the microscope of regulators in many countries. The UK's Financial Conduct Authority would like to ban the sale of cryptoasset derivatives and exchange-traded notes to retail customers, saying they are too difficult to value and are prone to extreme price movements due to the volatile moves of the underlying cryptoassets.

Other global regulators have made moves to reduce the amount of leverage offered by crypto-derivatives exchanges. Roubini points out that with a 100-1 leverage, even a 1% price move in the underlying assets could trigger a margin call that wipes out the investor's entire account and leave them owing the exchange.

Hayes, boasted openly that the BitMEX business model involves peddling to 'degenerate gamblers' (meaning clueless retail investors) crypto derivatives with 100-to-one leverage.

BitMEX aslo runs a proprietary trading desk - an internal, for-profit desk that trades cryptocurrencies with its own money - that has been accused of front-running its own clients, Roubini asserts. He adds:

Hayes has denied this, but because BitMEX is totally unregulated, there are no independent audits of its accounts, and thus no way of knowing what happens behind the scenes.

Perhaps his most grand accusation in the essay, however, is that exchange is being used for criminal activity:

BitMEX insiders revealed to me that this exchange is also used daily for money laundering on a massive scale by terrorists and other criminals from Russia, Iran, and elsewhere; the exchange does nothing to stop this, as it profits from these transactions.

Tiff in Taipei

Roubini accused Hayes this month of holding back the broadcast of a video recorded of their clash at conference in Taipei - to which Hayes had secured exclusive right to.

In the essay, he continues this accusation, saying:

I suppose this is par for the course among crypto scammers, but it is ironic that someone who claims to represent the 'resistance' against censorship has become the father of all censors now that his con has been exposed.

Crypto Cancer Metastasized

In his final dig at the industry, Roubini says crypto trading has created a multi-billion dollar industry that does not just include the exchanges, but also "propagandists posing as journalists, opportunists talking up their own books and lobbyists seeking regulatory exemptions.

It is time global regulatory bodies stepped in, he concludes:

So far, regulators have been asleep at the wheel as the crypto cancer has metastasized. At a minimum, Hayes and all the others overseeing similar rackets from offshore safe havens should be investigated, before millions more retail investors get scammed into financial ruin.

So far, Hayes appears to have remained silent following the article's publication. No activity on his Twitter account. But the ball is now firmly in his court as the war of words heats up.