The collapse of FTX may have dominated discourse at DC Fintech Week, but onstage, Kraken CEO Dave Ripley made the case that this event was simply a bump in the road to a future where finance moves fully to the blockchain.
In a panel discussion featuring industry leaders like Galaxy founder Michael Novogratz, Bitso CEO Daniel Vogel and UniSwap COO Mary-Catherine Lader, Ripley took the lead in presenting how the market is evolving in the wake of the industry’s recent challenges.
Moderator Mackenzie Sigalos (CNBC) set the tone by posing a crucial question to Ripley directly, asking, “Is it a good time to be a centralized exchange?”
Ripley seized the opportunity to address the concerns surrounding custodians, which hold the private keys that control their users’ digital assets. He noted that responsible industry leaders can encourage users to embrace the benefits of blockchains by withdrawing to their wallets:
“We’ve been a huge supporter of holding your own keys. We think FTX makes the case for cryptocurrency, because it’s the only place where you can remove trusted third parties. We are a trusted third party, we are the bridge to cryptocurrencies, and we play a meaningful role in bridging people to this world where you can do that.”
Kraken CEO Dave Ripley appears on the Future of Exchanges panel, starting at 1:20:00 in the video
As for how fast the future arrives, there was disagreement on the panel, with Lader emphasizing how blockchains like Ethereum are scaling quickly to enable more and more users to hold their own assets, and Novogratz projecting it could take decades for this transition to complete.
Notably, he stressed the need for exchanges like Kraken, equipped with regulatory expertise and staffed by senior professionals, to help bring about that transition.
Elsewhere, the conversation shifted to the recent wave of ETF applications. Ripley noted his enthusiasm for products from incumbents that can appeal to new demographics and help rebuild trust in a crypto industry still seeking to put recent setbacks behind it.
“All these new products that give people better access are fantastic for us,” he said, adding that Kraken’s mission is to grow cryptocurrency adoption, and that new products contribute to the industry’s overall growth, directly benefiting Kraken.
As an example, Ripley noted that Kraken subsidiary CF Benchmarks is the official reference rate provider for six of the over ten Bitcoin ETFs currently in the application approval process – another example of how the movement of incumbents into the industry benefits innovators like Kraken.
The discussion concluded with a thought-provoking question from Sigalos: “Could centralized exchanges like Kraken be replaced by decentralized exchanges?”
In response, Novogratz highlighted the ongoing role of centralized exchanges, especially for significant transactions involving institutional investors who are far from the “cutting edge.”
Finally, Ripley acknowledged his belief that while finance will move to blockchains, client demand for trusted custodians like Kraken remains strong and growing:
“We’re one of the top exchanges out there, with a team of over 2,500. We’re number one in euro trading, number one in British pound trading, and number one in Canadian dollar trading,” his remarks showcasing our global vision for crypto.
This was just a taste of the conversation from DC FinTech Week. For more action and highlights from the event, check out the official DC FinTech Week website.
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