The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has just named Coinbase vice president Dorothy DeWitt as its new market supervisor.
CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert announced in a press release Tuesday that DeWitt, who is also the exchange’s general counsel for business lines and markets, will be the new director of the Division of Market Oversight (DMO), the group responsible for overseeing derivatives platforms and products, including the young market for bitcoin futures.
DeWitt has also spent time at Citadel Securities, S&P Global and Davis Polk & Wardwell, and has previously been a portfolio manager.
Her new role will see her evaluating and potentially approving new bitcoin derivatives products in the U.S. DMO has examined CME, Cboe and Bakkt’s various bitcoin futures proposals in the past.
She succeeds former DMO director Amir Zaidi, who oversaw the first bitcoin futures contracts as they entered the crypto space in late 2017.
In a statement, Tarbert thanked Zaidi “for his more than nine years of service at the CFTC,” saying:
“[DeWitt] brings to the CFTC more than 20 years of private sector experience in the financial services and legal fields. Her strong investment, risk, legal, and compliance background and familiarity with distributed ledger technology, including crypto assets, will be invaluable as the agency looks to develop a holistic approach to regulating 21st century commodities.”
Former DMO director Vince McGonagle has been serving as acting director of the division during the transition period.
Tarbert first took office in July 2019, after Congress confirmed him in June. The former Treasury Department official succeeded Christopher Giancarlo, who was famously dubbed “Crypto Dad” after advocating for a “do no harm” approach to regulating the crypto space before Congress.
Since leaving the agency, Giancarlo has joined the advisory board to the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade association focused on blockchain and cryptocurrency policy in Washington D.C.
Academic interest in crypto and blockchain is increasing across the board, according to a study from Coinbase published Wednesday.
The crypto exchange looked at the world’s top 50 universities (according to the U.S. News & World Report ranking) and found that 56 percent have blockchain or crypto classes available. Last year, Coinbase found 42 percent to offer such classes.
Working with survey site Qriously, Coinbase also surveyed 735 students ages 16 and older, finding a 6 percent uptick in student interest in crypto or blockchain coursework. As part of last year’s Coinbase study, 28 percent of respondents said they would be interested in such a class.
Moreover, compared to last year, twice as many university students, or 18 percent, partook in a crypto or blockchain class.
Of special note, said Coinbase, is the percent of crypto or blockchain classes not falling under the traditional computer-science label. Coinbase said 70 percent of these classes pertained to other departments – particularly finance, economics, law or engineering.
Crypto classes by department. (Image via Coinbase)
Student clubs are also a major driver of academic interest. Coinbase said 41 of the 50 universities had student-run groups related to crypto or blockchain.
As the Coinbase post put it:
“This interest in studying crypto at colleges and universities speaks volumes about the future of money.”
Coinbase Custody announced the addition of the recently Reg A+ certified Props token to its custodial listings.
The institutionally-weighted, and independently-funded custodial wing of Coinbase will provide cold storage as well as a wallet for holders of Props. The tokens were designed by YouNow developers as a way to reward users of the platform and its content creators.
Furthermore, the Coinbase wallet will act as the default wallet offered by YouNow to users.
“This wallet has a tighter integration with the YouNow app, which makes for a smooth UX when using Props,” according to a company statement. YouNow has a 47 million user base.
Currently available on YouNow, with three additional applications announced, Props’ unique Reg A+ investment structure, and regulatory status, acts as an incentive for users to build upon and disseminate the platforms on which the tokens operate by giving holders a vested interest in the platforms’ success.
Indeed, Yonatan Sela, Co-founder of Props, told CoinDesk that since launching earlier this month, more than 230,000 individuals have acquired Props through engaging with either YouNow.
Additionally, while he couldn’t disclose hard figures, Sela said YouNow has seen “content creation increase by double digit figures [since the introduction of the Props rewards incentive], which is huge for a platform all about content creation.”
As part of the regulatory arrangement, which took approximately a year to sort out, Props are fully transferable between participating wallets and platforms, but cannot be exchanged for fiat currency. In this sense, Props function as a utility token, bound to its specific purpose.
However, through the Coinbase Custody listing, the institutional investors and major content creators that hold Props will be able to shield their funds with an industry-recognized custodian. All digital assets with Coinbase Custody are segregated and covered by the company’s insurance policies. Sam McIngvale, CEO of Coinbase Custody, said in a statement:
“No other platform can offer the safety and protection of our technology and comprehensive insurance. But more than that, for projects like Props where network participation and validators are critical to the chain’s operation, Coinbase Custody offers the only option that allows for both the secure cold storage of assets and the ability to interact with the network.”
Sela noted in 2017, Props pre-sold $21.5 million tokens to such investors, who “have received the tokens, and have meaningfully exposure.” He said these holders include Union Square Ventures, Comcast, and Coinfund.
Though the token has attracted a number of institutional investors, Sela also stressed the amount of holders who first came to cryptocurrencies through being rewarded with Props.
“It’s an experiment to see what happens when putting a crypto token in hands of real world people that are attracted by its utility.”
Coinbase Pro announced the coming addition of the proof-of-stake and democratically-governed Tezos blockchain to its institutional trading platform.
Tezos (XTZ), a multi-million dollar blockchain that officially launched in September 2018, offers the opportunity for its stakeholders to vote on-chain on proposed upgrades. When Tezos was added to another Coinbase affiliate, Coinbase Custody, in March, the move was contested by those who opposed the extension of voting rights to custodial token holders.
It is unclear whether Coinbase Pro will offer “self-amending” duties to users of its platform.
Tezos price last 30 days via Coinbase data
Before trading is activated, Coinbase Pro must build reserves of the coins in trading pairs with BTC and USD. Beginning on Monday, August 5, the firm will accept inbound transfers of XTZ 12 hours in advance of launch, according to a company blog post.
“Once sufficient supply of XTZ is established on the platform, trading on the XTZ/USD, and XTZ/BTC order books will start in phases, beginning with post-only mode and proceeding to full trading should our metrics for a healthy market be met,” the company states.
Similar to onboarding other digital assets to the trading platform, Coinbase expects to move through four stages before tezos functionality is fully operational.
The first is “Transfer-only,” when orderbooks will only support incoming coins. Once a reserve is established, the platform will enter into the minute-long “Post only” phase, where users will be able to post limit orders that will remain unfulfilled. Third is “Limit-only” in which “limit orders will start matching but customers are unable to submit market orders.”
After these embryonic stages, full trading will be enabled. Importantly, Tezos will not be available on Coinbase itself. Tezos held a $232 million initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017, one of the largest funding events at the time.
Last month, Coinbase Pro added trading Chainlink, the company expects to roll out additional digital assets.