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- Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the cofounders of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, spoke with Business Insider about bringing regulations to an industry that at times doesn’t want it.
- Despite some in the crypto community not wanting to be regulated, the Winklevoss twins said Gemini’s push for more structure in the market wouldn’t hurt them.
- The Winklevosses are among Business Insider’s 10 people transforming finance.
- See the full list of 100 people transforming business here.
In early January, Gemini made some noise in the crypto community — a difficult thing to do in a space full of people aiming to do exactly that.
The reaction to the ads was a microcosm of the state of the industry. Some supported the Winklevosses’ philosophy that cryptocurrencies could benefit from more regulatory requirements, while others pushed back on the notion that rules and structure are needed for a market that in many people’s eyes was built to avoid it.
Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini’s CEO, told Business Insider in an interview that he expected some in the crypto community would take issue with the ads.
"I think there is just that narco-libertarian bent of cryptocurrency that has been there from day one, so I was not surprised with who sort of disagreed with it," he said. "There is a small, niche community of people who just are always going to be anti-rules and -regulations."
And while the two sides might seem a world apart, the Winklevoss twins said they didn’t see a reason both groups couldn’t continue to exist. It’s not a zero-sum game in which one side needs to be eradicated for the other to be successful.
Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini’s president, told Business Insider that just as someone could deal solely in cash and avoid banks, a person could avoid the regulated market Gemini is looking to create.
"They are not at odds. They are not mutually exclusive," he said. "You can engage with bitcoin on a peer-to-peer level and never have to engage with an institution like Gemini. You are still in the bitcoin network. You can still custody your own bitcoin."
The twins think more people will want to opt to work with regulated institutions. Notably, they said it’s the only way to attract Wall Street money into the market, a process that has proved difficult for the industry.
"We want to be that bridge and that on-ramp that gets the big mutual funds, hedge funds, and pension funds — all that big money — into the space. They are going to need a regulated bridge to do it," Tyler Winklevoss said. "We know that there are certain customers out there and market participants that will require that and demand that, and we want to meet that demand."
The caveats Wall Street requires before it fully adopts cryptocurrency can be seen in some of the latest developments — look no further than JPMorgan’s recently announced JPM Coin. While it’s a digital currency by definition, the coin is pegged to a fiat currency, the US dollar, and issued on a permissioned blockchain.
Some cryptocurrency purists pushed back on the announcement, saying the best aspects of having a digital currency were stripped away by tying it to a traditional currency and putting it on a private blockchain not accessible to everyone.
Tyler Winklevoss said Gemini faced similar criticism when it announced its own so-called stablecoin pegged to the US dollar. When it comes to the JPMorgan announcement, he said, the focus should be that one of the largest traditional players has taken a step toward more crypto adoption.
"There are always going to be detractors who are going to say, ‘Oh, theirs is not decentralized enough,’ or ‘Ours is fiat-backed. It still relies on banks and central parties.’ You’ll never please that crowd," he said. "I don’t listen to that noise. We are excited about it. It is a huge thing. It is a huge institution that is not just paying lip service to crypto but is actually doing something."
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