Michelle Bond was appointed CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets in October 2020. Traders Magazine caught up with Michelle to learn more.
How/when in your career did you become interested in digital assets?
I’ve been interested in following and shaping changes to the financial services industry since I started my career at FINRA. During my time as counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, I worked on the Dodd-Frank and JOBS Acts; at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the focus was on promulgating regulations stemming from Dodd-Frank; and then moving to the private sector, I helped implement Dodd-Frank. Once implementation was wrapping up, I knew fintech policy would be the new hot policy area and that it would reflect a similar pathway for how the traditional financial landscape has developed. Moving to ADAM makes sense, as regulators are trying to figure out how digital assets fit into existing or yet-to-be-created regulatory regimes.
What drew you to the role of CEO of ADAM?
I was excited about the prospect of representing so many of the major, sophisticated players in this industry. Members of ADAM are an elite group of industry organizations who subscribe to a higher code of conduct, which ensures that members of the organization are committed to the highest standards of integrity, fairness, efficiency, and compliance. This philosophical alignment and commitment to ethical best practices allows us to focus on the big issues affecting the industry and provide substantive contributions to key decisionmakers. With such explosive growth in digital assets recently, it’s a matter of time before regulators focus more on these markets; my regulatory and policy experience should serve ADAM’s members well, as we navigate—and work to influence—an increasingly complex regulatory environment under a new administration.
What is ADAM’s role in the digital assets space?
ADAM helps its members navigate a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape—leveraging our substantive expertise, connections to key regulators, and high ethical standards. We work with leading financial firms, entrepreneurs, and regulators to develop industry best practices and policies that facilitate fair and orderly digital asset markets where participants can transact with confidence. Our members include market participants such as trading platforms, custodians, investors, asset managers, traders, liquidity providers, and brokers that operate in the digital asset ecosystem. Every member must agree to adhere to ADAM’s unique Code of Conduct, which ensures that everyone is committed to high standards for integrity, fairness, efficiency, and compliance as regulated entities.
What are current initiatives as CEO of ADAM?
We are focused on keeping our members abreast of rapid changes in Washington to digital asset policy. This includes the Treasury Department/FinCEN’s recently released proposal on unhosted wallets. In addition to making our membership’s concerns heard with the agency, we’ve been focused on keeping our members up-to-date on developments as they unfold. We are also focused on a number of initiatives from other key policymakers – for example, the SEC, CFTC, OCC, state and international regulators. We continue to discuss development of our Code of Conduct and have begun laying the groundwork on a series of strategic initiatives to inform effective policy, promote industry knowledge, and convene thought leaders who share our commitment to fair, ethical, and orderly digital asset markets.
What are your future goals (say, 2021 and beyond)?
We anticipate a flurry of regulatory activity on digital asset markets, so continuing to shape those on behalf of my members will be a top priority. I’m also excited to strategically grow ADAM’s membership and launch a series of initiatives that will position our members to serve as trusted partners with decisionmakers, help drive further sophistication of our industry through our Code of Conduct, and educate the traditional financial services industry on the future of digital assets.
Has there been, and is there currently, some hype regarding digital assets? How does that factor into the market’s development, if at all?
Digital assets made their debut just over a decade ago and have experienced a meteoric rise since. People remain bullish on the industry because digital asset markets are rapidly evolving, and mainstream adoption is becoming more prevalent. The November elections have left Washington with a divided Congress, which means most policy changes will be driven by regulators in the executive branch, and several of the names floated for leadership positions in a Biden administration have expressed a penchant for fintech issues. This combination of factors nearly ensures that digital asset market participants will need to be organized, informed, and connected to key decisionmakers to strike healthy balances between increased regulation and continued vibrancy in the markets.
A few years ago, some large security markets firms (e.g. CBOE and CME) launched bitcoin initiatives, but since then it seems like traditional large firms have not been getting involved to any significant degree. What is the state of play here? Will more Wall Street firms get involved in digital assets in the future?
Traditional financial firms are getting much more actively involved – they are increasingly aware of the value of digital assets as demand continues to explode, and they are seeing digitization in all aspects of their businesses, including with respect to currencies being used. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in how citizens bank, which will affect how central banks view digital assets as a form of currency. Large financial institutions are continuing to adopt digital assets at a rapid pace, and ADAM looks forward to working with them to develop industry best practices and policies.
Broadly speaking, what is the future of digital assets?
Digital asset markets are rapidly evolving, and we are well on our way to mainstream adoption. It’s undeniable that digital assets are a critical component of financial systems worldwide, and it’s just a matter of time before policy catches up. ADAM looks forward to continuing to be the leading voice of this flourishing industry and further setting – and advancing – digital asset market standards.