Sam Bankman-Fried, the “richest person in crypto” according to Forbes Magazine, is the founder of FTX, a leading exchange for buying and selling crypto derivatives. John Lothian News spoke with him at FIA Expo 2021, where he talked about how the crypto space has grown and changed, crypto versus “traditional finance,” and the latest trends, including NFTs.
Bankman-Fried said the biggest trends in cryptocurrency right now are regulatory. The space is seeing more attention from regulators across the world and in the U.S., and he said he expects to see more and more licensing as well as more enforcement actions.
Opinions about the space have changed a lot since it has grown, he said. Almost every bank has decided they are going to do something in crypto.
“But it will be a slow, step-by step-process,” he said. “[The banks] are looking for regulatory and compliance clarity.”
There has been a protracted bull run in crypto – volumes are up and user bases are up, he said. Crypto trading adds up to about $200 a day globally, similar to S&P 500 futures, he added. “So it’s really, really large.”
Demand comes in waves on the retail side, however, Bankman-Fried said. “In financials released from Coinbase and Robinhood you will see very high variability month to month.” And, as with meme stocks in equities, there are “lots of meme tokens, particularly dog ones,” he added.
NFTs have a lot of promise, he said, especially for things like tickets and in-game items for video games, although “we may have seen some over-hyping,” he said. FTX launched an NFT platform a couple of months ago, and it is constantly looking at what people in the space are doing, he said.
But he doesn’t see FTX as “trying to follow in the wake of what a lot of other players in the industry have been developing.” FTX was late to the game, launching in 2019, he said, and “you can’t launch a business like this while late to the game and just follow and copy what others are doing and expect success. We see ourselves as pushing the space forward in a lot of ways – as trying to innovate.”
He added, “People are usually talking about the product side of this space, but seeking licensing and regulation is an important part of our business as well, [and one] that we think this space should have been more active about, and that we are excited to take part in.”