Coinbase executives continue to move among the big names in the financial landscape. This month, it was the turn of none other than U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
According to Powell’s working schedule for May, the head of the Fed had a face-to-face meeting with the head of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. on May 11.
Paul Ryan, a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was also invited to the event.
The meeting lasted half an hour, and no further details about what topics were discussed, nor who led the discussion, are being disclosed. Bloomberg attempted to contact the Fed and Coinbase, but neither party would comment.
Coinbase and the American Crypto Scene
Coinbase has been playing in the political big leagues for some time. In fact, its former Chief Legal Officer, Brian Brooks, was appointed by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration as Comptroller of the currency. After Joe Biden came to power, Brooks left his position and became CEO of Binance US.
During Brooks’ tenure, great strides were made to facilitate business for several cryptocurrency companies, especially licensing.
Likewise, a more welcoming eye from the authorities and the recent cryptocurrency boom have led Coinbase to expand, increasing the number of tokens supported as well as the services offered to individual and institutional customers.
Coinbase’s direct listing has also given the industry quite a bit of legitimacy, even though Coinbase was already a benchmark for what a cryptocurrency business should be in the United States.
The Road To a Digital Dollar
Jerome Powell is not exactly what you would call a pro-cryptocurrency character. In fact, he has criticized their volatile nature on several occasions and the fact that their technology detracts from the state’s ability to exercise supervisory control.
In a recent webinar sponsored by the Bank of International Settlements, Powell bashed on Bitcoin and denied that it could compete against the dollar despite the blows to the U.S. economy.
“Crypto assets are highly volatile – see Bitcoin – and therefore not really useful as a store of value. They’re not backed by anything. They’re more of an asset for speculation … It is essentially a substitute for gold rather than the dollar.”
But despite his aversion to cryptocurrencies, Powell recognizes the potential a digital dollar could have for the U.S. economy. The US CBDC is still in its infancy. Still, the U.S. wants to pick up the pace to avoid a potential loss of geopolitical power in the wake of China’s advances.
And just a day after he met with Coinbase, Powell had a video conference with Chris Giancarlo of the Digital Dollar Project to likely discuss issues related to the US CBDC. The meeting continued the next day.
Maybe the U.S. doesn’t want to compete with El Salvador to become a pro-bitcoin country, but it could be warming up to be the first global power with a CBDC.