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As Bitcoin and other cryptos crash, Wall Street watchdog tells laid-off Coinbase staff: Work for us

Regulators are looking to snap up crypto talent amid industry layoffs
Regulators are looking to snap up crypto talent amid industry layoffs   -   Copyright  Unsplash/Library of Congress
By Euronews  with Reuters

Cryptocurrency platforms are having a tough time of it, with a number of them laying off swathes of their workforce as digital currencies continue to see their value plummet.

And with so many workers with crypto knowledge back on the job market, one US financial watchdog has spotted an opportunity.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) plans to increase its resources to understand and monitor cryptocurrencies, with its CEO telling workers laid off from crypto platforms: “Give me a call”.

"We are already having to be engaged in the space and we think that as a result it's appropriate for us to bulk up our capabilities there," FINRA chief executive Robert Cook said at a trading industry conference on Tuesday.

FINRA has several dozen members that have been approved to trade digital asset securities, as well as members who allow customers to access crypto products, and members with registered representatives who have outside business activities around crypto, Cook said.

The regulator is also developing digital asset verification techniques and is looking at whether it can do cross-market surveillance on various blockchains, he said.

Crypto industry in freefall

One of crypto’s most popular platforms, Coinbase, said on Wednesday it would cut around 1,100 jobs - 18 per cent of its workforce - amid a downturn in the crypto industry.

Coin prices have dropped sharply in recent weeks, with Bitcoin itself hitting an 18-month low on Wednesday, at just over $20,400 (€19,400).

Other companies like BlockFi and Crypto.com have also slashed hundreds of jobs.

Crypto lending firm Celsius Network announced on Monday it is pausing withdrawals and transfers between accounts due to "extreme market conditions", with the firm needing to “stabilise liquidity and operations while we take steps to preserve and protect assets," according to a company blogpost.

Investors have been dumping riskier assets amid fears that rising inflation, and a potential rise in interest rates, could lead to a recession.

"We appear to be entering a recession after a 10+ year economic boom, Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong wrote in a blogpost. “A recession could lead to another crypto winter, and could last for an extended period”.

Amid this turmoil, US federal agencies continue to jockey for position to be the primary regulator for digital assets.

FINRA’s CEO Cook said on Tuesday his agency will most likely have a role to play, and he had a message for fired crypto workers.

"We're going to need to be engaged and prepared to have the resources to do that, so anybody who is getting laid off from a crypto platform and wants to work for FINRA, give me a call," he said.