FTX US, the American affiliate of Sam Bankman-Fried’s exchange empire, announced today that it has hired Mark Wetjen as head of policy and regulatory strategy.
Though not a household name, Wetjen is a desirable addition for the growing company, having served as a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner from 2011 to 2016. Wetjen also took on the role of acting chairman for five months when then-chair Gary Gensler (who now chairs the Securities and Exchange Commission) left the agency in early 2014.
The CFTC is the federal regulator of derivatives—financial contracts based on assets such as commodities or stocks. This includes Bitcoin futures and options, which allow people to speculate on the future price of the cryptocurrency.
It may come as no surprise that FTX US intends to add crypto derivatives trading alongside its current spot offerings; its parent exchange has become the primary competitor to Binance on the back of its derivatives offerings. It recently finalized the acquisition of LedgerX, the first crypto derivatives platform to be regulated by the CFTC. Perhaps uncoincidentally, after departing the CFTC, Wetjen joined the board of directors of LedgerX.
— Brett Harrison (@Brett_FTXUS) November 2, 2021
“We’ve created FTX US Derivatives with the intention of becoming the first US-regulated crypto exchange to provide crypto derivatives trading to our user base,” FTX US President Brett Harrison said in a press release, “and Mark’s experience and guidance will be instrumental in achieving this goal.”
In his capacity as public affairs chief, Wetjen will be charged with lobbying and communicating with regulatory agencies and the legislative committees that oversee them. This should bring him in close contact with his former colleague Gensler.
Gensler and his CFTC counterpart, acting chair Rostin Behnam, have been jockeying for position in regulating the fledgling cryptocurrency market. Gensler has sought for the SEC to have a greater role in regulating stablecoins, the dollar-pegged assets that facilitate entry into crypto ecosystems. Behnam, meanwhile, asked the Senate Committee on Agriculture to broaden his agency’s authority to regulate cryptocurrencies beyond merely derivatives.
Wetjen said he’s looking forward to “advancing the regulatory conversation of the crypto landscape on behalf of FTX US.”