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Meet Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-HODL

 Sen. Cynthia Lummis

Hello and welcome to Protocol | Fintech! This Tuesday: The senator from bitcoin, Bitstamp's CEO on the new SEC boss, and CoinFund's founder on the upside of ICOs.

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Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-HODL

Cowboy State or Crypto State?

If Wyoming's becoming known as the latter, it's largely because of Sen. Cynthia Lummis' growing role in the battle over the future of cryptocurrencies in the Capitol.

She and her allies suffered a setback on Monday when a single colleague torpedoed the unanimous approval needed to pass a change to a crypto-related tax provision in the infrastructure bill that she had endorsed. But it's a safe bet that Lummis isn't about to abandon her crypto advocacy.

"I am a HODLer." Lummis ("rhymes with hummus," her Twitter bio says) became the first woman from Wyoming elected to the Senate last year. She's also understood to be the first known member of the Senate to own bitcoin.

  • Lummis told CNBC in June that she owned five bitcoins, which she bought around 2013 for roughly $330 each — which means her investment has jumped nearly 140-fold, with bitcoin trading at roughly $46,000.
  • She's certainly got bitcoin-speak down, calling the cryptocurrency "a great store of value" and referring to herself as a "HODLer" — a fervent crypto investor who buys and then "holds on for dear life."
  • In February, Lummis even tweaked her Twitter avatar to feature laser-red eyes, a nod to an online bitcoin campaign that shows support for bitcoin. (She got dinged for having crooked laser eyes. Hey, pobody's nerfect.)
  • The eyes are gone, but the bitcoin evangelism is there — with a Republican spin. Lummis has encouraged Americans "to save bitcoin for their retirement, for their future," warning that "as the Congress spends trillions and trillions of dollars, and is flooding our economy and the world economy with U.S. dollars, there's no way that we cannot debase the value of the U.S. dollar."

Wyoming is for miners. Lummis has bigger crypto ambitions for Wyoming, which she envisions as a major crypto hub.

  • When China escalated its crackdown on crypto mining this year, Lummis pounced on the opportunity to present her state as an alternative.
  • "If you are in the bitcoin mining space, please reach out," she tweeted. "We want you in Wyoming!"
  • Some key crypto players have been answering Wyoming's broader call. Major firms like Ripple have set up operations there. And the state is a regulatory trailblazer, greenlighting the first state-chartered crypto banks.

Lummis has gotten the Senate talking crypto. Her proposed change to the infrastructure bill's crypto tax provision may have been shot down. But at least crypto interest in the Senate has grown "by leaps and bounds," she said Monday morning.

"There's so much energy and excitement in this space," she said. "It's almost like when the internet first started."

— Ben Pimentel

A MESSAGE FROM SINGAPORE EDB

Expanding to Asia can be difficult, but Singapore is here to help. The Singapore Economic Development Board's guide to setting up in Singapore has all the information you need to find the right partners, talent, and connections to succeed in Asia.

Learn More

From Protocol | Fintech

Fintech goes to Washington. The industry finally has its own lobbying group led by some D.C. veterans.

Overheard

  • "Kiss Army activated. Get ready."Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal reacting to rock star Gene Simmons' tweet supporting the Wyden-Loomis-Toomey amendment to the crypto provision in the infrastructure bill.
  • "We felt like underdogs here at Robinhood and, we'll see underdogs hopefully evolving into comeback kids."Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on the online brokerage's disappointing IPO.
  • "What the ICO boom allowed us to do is allocate some capital to some ideas that seem crazy."Jake Brukhman, founder of CoinFund, on the brief boom in initial coin offerings.

Need to Know

  • Intuit's Credit Karma wants to pay the bills. Credit Karma Money Spend accountholders can better manage bill payments and cash flow. (Editor's note: Didn't Intuit introduce online bill pay in the early 1990s?)
  • Broadridge added UBS to its blockchain platform. The financial services infrastructure software company said the Swiss bank would be one of 20 dealers on its repurchase agreement platform, where firms can transfer smart contracts.

Making Moves

Deal Flow

Zeni raised $34 million. The financial services software company's series B round was led by Elevation Capital.

BigPay raised $100 million. The Malaysian challenger bank, which is looking to expand in Southeast Asia, secured funding from South Korea's SK Group.

Moove raised $23 million. The Nigerian auto-finance technology startup's series A round was led by Speedinvest and Left Lane Capital.

Trendyol raised $1.5 billion at a $16.5 billion valuation. The Turkish ecommerce company's funding round was led by General Atlantic, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital and sovereign wealth funds, ADQ (UAE) and Qatar Investment Authority co-led the round.

3 Questions With...

Bobby Zagotta, U.S. CEO, Bitstamp

Do you expect changes in crypto regulation with Gary Gensler in charge?

The answer is yes. I expect there will be continued exploration of different ways to bring some rule-making to the space that's beneficial for customers and hopefully not value-destroying for players in the ecosystem.

From the Bitstamp perspective, this is a good thing. We believe in order for crypto to really take its rightful place in the financial services ecosystem, because it's a tremendously useful concept, people have to be able to trust it like any other asset class. That means a complete regulatory framework. Today we have an evolving regulatory framework. We're super-supportive of regulation. We have our views on what level of regulation is useful. I do expect Gensler to be focused on the space.

What new things are you most excited about in crypto?

There's a lot of opportunity in this space relative to staking, where people can earn yield on crypto assets. That can be a game-changer, particularly in this low-interest rate environment, and allow people to more independently steward their wealth.

There's a lot of talk about the DeFi space that's also got amazing possibilities. However I'd say that's pretty nascent. It's a different risk equation for DeFi when there's not a company necessarily standing behind the platform.

What's your view on DeFi, which you're essentially competing with?

Anything that helps drive growth and adoption is good for the world and for Bitstamp. The risk equation is different if you're transacting and putting money or tokens into a DeFi protocol that may or may not have all the security and all the tremendous sophistication that centralized exchanges have. It doesn't mean it's bad. It's just a different kind of risk equation. Some people have an appetite for it and some will always prefer centralized exchanges that they can deal with if there's a problem.

A MESSAGE FROM SINGAPORE EDB

Expanding to Asia can be difficult, but Singapore is here to help. The Singapore Economic Development Board's guide to setting up in Singapore has all the information you need to find the right partners, talent, and connections to succeed in Asia.

Learn More

Data Point

65%

That's the percentage of Affirm's "buy now, pay later" users who are new borrowers, according to American Banker — the highest among the major installment-plan players.

Thanks for reading — see you Friday!

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