10.24.2018
By Rob Daly

Crypto Exchanges Eye Rapid Evolution

Markets Media recently caught up with Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, managing director of operations at Gemini Trust Company, to discuss how cryptocurrency exchanges are evolving into a new type of market compared to securities exchanges.

Where are digital assets currently, in terms of development stage? How would you measure the success of digital assets exchanges to date?

Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto,
Gemini Trust

Digital assets are still in their infancy, but maturing. You hear a lot of noise, but sifting through it, there are real innovations moving this industry forward at a rapid pace. Gemini was an early innovator, having launched already three years ago in 2015. Our approach from the very beginning was to build a secure, regulated and transparent market for retail and institutional investors alike. As we layer on new products and enhancements, those principles are still at the core of our foundation. For example, we recently rolled out the industry’s first Digital Asset insurance to bolster our commitment to provide our customers with a secure platform to store their digital assets.

Success for Gemini continues to evolve over time. I don’t feel that there will be a point where we will be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, as there is always so much more to do when you’re on the ground floor, building a safe and secure infrastructure for the future of money. We will continue to celebrate the victories along the way — some of which, over just the past year, include launching the first-ever bitcoin futures with Cboe, digital asset insurance, and recently the world’s first licensed and regulated stablecoin — the Gemini dollar. For me though, one measure of success is that throughout our growth cycle, we continue to maintain a reliable trading platform, provide a secure and flexible custody solution, innovate with new products and meet the needs of our growing customer base.

What will 2019 bring for digital assets broadly, and Gemini specifically?

At Gemini we are proud to only announce developments that we are ready to actually deploy. That being said we’ve got an exciting year ahead of us. Stay tuned!

Why would it, or would not, make sense for regulators to treat crypto exchanges as self-regulatory organization or a designated contract market?

The future state of regulation for crypto markets is still uncertain. We welcome thoughtful regulation of our industry and our market. Clear regulatory guidelines can have the benefit of helping to attract new market participants to our industry, while ensuring all markets are operating on a level playing field with respect to fairness, market access, security, reliability, and compliance. Having worked for an SEC-regulated exchange operator for nearly all of my career, I can appreciate where we are as an industry today, and the transformation the crypto exchanges will be going through as our industry continued to develop.

You joined Gemini recently from a more traditional financial exchange. What were some of the motivating factors for moving into digital assets? What has been the biggest difference for you since moving from the International Securities Exchange to Gemini?

Innovation has always been the most rewarding part of my career. I’m excited to be working on the development of a new market ecosystem for an entirely new asset class. There truly is a huge amount of potential for digital assets to transform the global economy and payments system.

In my first month at Gemini, the biggest difference I’ve noticed from Nasdaq & ISE is the fast pace of change. The digital asset market is literally developing daily in ways that it might take years to deploy in the options markets. We have the benefit of relatively little legacy to have to contend with when trying to initiate change.

How does this measure up against the founding principles of Gemini?

The first introduction you receive when joining Gemini is a copy of our founding principles. For me, these values represent why I chose to join Gemini. We work with conviction and perseverance in our day-to-day roles and as part of the larger Gemini community. We are principled in our purpose and we are pursuing excellence in our business. Lastly, we are focused on the long-term, building and winning by creating value for our customers.

In terms of your role, how do you expect it to evolve as the business also evolves?

As our business grows, I plan to be flexible and evolve with it! I hope to gain a deep understanding of the dynamics of our market and its constituents, and use that knowledge to help build the Gemini of the future.

What are one or two important things that people don’t know about Gemini, but should know?

Gemini is a New York trust company that is subject to the capital reserve requirements, cybersecurity requirements, and banking compliance standards set forth by the New York Department of Financial Services and the New York Banking Law, which is different from the NYDFS’ BitLicense.

Gemini is a U.S. based digital asset exchange and custodian in New York City with more than 150 employees. Interested in joining Gemini? Check out our careers page!

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