Crypto true believers often express support for the technology based on how it managed to remake financial interaction and integrate commercial activities into apps and software in a decentralized way, independent of traditional players and intermediaries.

That vision of crypto still exists. Indeed, it’s at the core of at least some of the most notable projects out there.

But, the very successes of crypto technology made it inevitable that traditional powers and interests would crash the party.

The knock on the door, so to speak, arguably occurred in 2017, though enthusiasm died with a major crypto downturn.

The pandemic period of 2020 to 2021 saw the definitive explosion of crypto interest from both institutions and individuals that made it clear crypto technology was a part of the economic landscape that wasn’t going away.

So the question is no longer “will crypto fade?” As a sector, as a technology, the answer is almost certainly no.  

But the question, “will crypto technology upend the existing financial power paradigm?” is much more complicated.

And leading crypto entrepreneurs like Sam Bankman-Fried have become emblems of that complicated picture.

By any conventional measure, Bankman-Fried, head of prominent crypto exchange FTX, looks and sounds like a crypto evangelist. After all, he made his first billion in crypto (he’s currently worth around 16 billion, according to Bloomberg).

But if crypto sector movers and shakers can be roughly classed as either “crypto idealists” or “crypto realists”—“crypto hopefuls” vs. “crypto cynical” might be better terms—Bankman-Fried is firmly in the “crypto realist / cynical” camp.

Bankman-Fried has no aspirations to disrupt the existing financial order. He doesn’t want to cut out intermediary financial institutions making money off money. He doesn’t want money creation itself out of the control of a cabal of elites.

This past week the FTX CEO made news on several fronts.  At The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference, he confirmed that he’s looking to score some potentially game changing “bigs getting bigger” acquisitions during the current crypto winter.

The biggest potential target? Coinbase.

“In this market, there are a lot of opportunities we’re seeing that we didn’t see last year,” he said, according to Business Insider, while discussing a possible play for the rival crypto exchange.

When asked about potential acquisitions, Bankman-Fried referenced Coinbase’s significantly larger user base, and focus on smaller retail-type investors, as being attractive.

“[Coinbase] gets at… our long term weakness,” said Bankman-Fried, as reported by BI. “We don’t see much point to get more highly engaged crypto traders. “What we’d be looking at more is on the retail side.”

If FTX were to merge with Coinbase, it would create one of the largest and most traditional finance integrated and politically compliant centralized exchanges in the world.

Perhaps not coincidentally, FTX also made news by announcing that it was looking to possibly issue a native stablecoin as part of its exchange platform.

Everything Via CeFi and Plenty of Pie For Trad Powers

Bankman-Fried has made no bones about his centralized vision for cryptos. He authored a paper that proposed “Possible Digital Asset Industry Standards,” that received heavy criticism by those “crypto idealists” who aren’t ready to have the technology gobbled up for the benefit of select, long entrenched politically-connected powers.

Several specifics in Bankman-Fried’s proposal, including regulations that would effectively negate and possibly outlaw the innovations of decentralized finance, and also force cryptos to be wielded as weapons in political sanctions battles, earned particular scorn.

Erik Voorhees, creator of the ShapeShift decentralized crypto platform, said that Bankman-Fried’s proposals flew in the face of many fundamental ideas underlying crypto technology.

“For Sam to suggest that the industry ‘should respect OFAC’ is unbecoming,” Voorhees wrote in an open letter response to Bankman-Fried. “Anyone genuinely advocating for ‘an open, free economy’ cannot support such blatant financial discrimination on millions of innocent people.”

Voorhees was referring to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is currently at the center of enforcement of financial sanctions against Russia and other countries, due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other geopolitical issues.

Other parts of Bankman-Fried’s proposals appeared to position crypto technology as largely adding efficiencies to current financial and investing infrastructure, as opposed to disrupting or shifting wealth and power away from those entities.

For example, he argued that near-instant crypto settlement technology  could’ve helped avoid the liquidity issues of the “GameStop” stock trading meltdown of January 2021.

But the secretive connections of hedge funds and trading apps like Robinhood, which led to a rigged backstopping of losses via trading shutdowns on stocks which were shorted by those funds, was a huge part of the GameStop story. 

Bankman-Fried’s proposal had nothing to say on that score. 

In one section on access to crypto financial products, Bankman-Fried endorsed knowledge based “quizzes” to decide whether users should be allowed to participate.

To his credit, the FTX CEO rejected barring people from investing, based on financial proof of income or net worth.

But his idea of making users take “quizzes” regarding financial products could easily be seen as a potentially biased and arbitrary gateway.

He wrote:

“Here are various methods one could use to determine who can access a particular product:

  1. Only investors whose net worth is at least $x can access the product
  2. Only investors whose income is at least $y can access the product
  3. There is a test based on the mechanics of the platform and product; only investors who pass that test can access the product
  4. Anyone can access any product so long as the product is not scam
  5. The platform should choose at its own discretion who can access its product”

Choice “D” might seem the fairest and freest option to many.

Politically Active in the 2022 Election Cycle

Bankman-Fried hasn’t been shy about throwing money to candidates that he believes share his views on the future course of crypto regulation. He has spent about 40 million dollars so far in this election cycle, according to He previously said he might spend as much as a billion, but that hasn’t materialized.

But political spending aside, it’s clear that Bankman-Fried intends to wield a large hand in the future course of the crypto sector. And “crypto idealists” probably won’t like the direction Bankman-Fried is traveling.

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Better late than never.

The Blockchain Association, a U.S. based crypto industry group, has come up in support of Ripple Networks, in its years-long legal battle with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

The association is now saying the case could be crucial for the future of the crypto industry.

In a 28 October post, it announced that it will submit an amicus “friend of the court” brief in support of Ripple’s position.

“This case, which is just one in a long line of SEC efforts to regulate by enforcement, highlights the SEC’s efforts to cement and legitimize its overly broad interpretation of the Howey test,” the association explained its view, as reported by

The SEC filed suit against Ripple in 2020, alleging that the company raised 1.3 billion dollars via unregistered securities sales using the Ripple XRP crypto token.

The Blockchain Association said its position was based on the merits of the case, and the detrimental impacts on innovation that would occur if the SEC prevailed in its interpretation.

“Applying the securities laws to those tokens—whether or not through the prism of the Howey test—would significantly restrict those networks from functioning,” the Association warned.

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