The price of Bitcoin has increased, leading to a renewed interest in digital currencies by major financial firms and a celebration by crypto enthusiasts who have endured a long period of depressed prices and business collapses. However, this sudden surge in optimism has emerged at a turbulent moment for the cryptocurrency industry. The industry’s most influential executives, Sam Bankman-Fried and Changpeng Zhao, are both facing prison time after parallel falls from power, marking a pivotal moment for the industry’s future. With these figures out of the picture, a crowded field of crypto entrepreneurs, Wall Street executives, and government regulators are vying to control the industry’s next chapter. Their influence could determine whether crypto survives in the United States as regulatory crackdowns have made operating more difficult. Some executives argue that the removal of aggressive entrepreneurs prioritizing growth over compliance is a step in the right direction to winning over regulators and the public.
Crypto has long had influential leaders, but with rising regulatory scrutiny, the departure of leaders Zhao and Bankman-Fried is viewed as a positive step forward for the industry. A new generation of executives is emerging and vying for control of the industry, with some companies engaging in risky business practices and a lack of transparency around their products. The future of companies like Binance is uncertain, with an imposed $4.5 billion fine and a US monitor embedded in the business for three years as part of a recent settlement.
Despite the industry’s upheaval, the surge in Bitcoin’s price to over $43,000 and growing confidence that the SEC is likely to approve a Bitcoin E.T.F. brings new opportunities to the industry. Coinbase has positioned itself to profit by storing the Bitcoin that would underlie an E.T.F. offered by BlackRock. Wall Street’s increasing collaboration with crypto has been seen as a potential salvation after a difficult period for the industry. This partnership is seen as evidence that crypto is merging with, rather than disrupting, Wall Street, as major financial firms see potential for profit.