Tech companies need better oversight. There needs to be better oversight, transparent and reasonable oversight over the tech companies in the crypto space. There are many people who are not familiar with the space, and easily taken advantage of. Without rules and oversight, ethics can be breached more easily.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Felix Shipkevich. Felix is a Principal of Shipkevich PLLC, a global law firm specializing in legal and regulatory matters within the digital currency and fintech industries. Having worked in the space since 2010, Shipkevich provides strategic legal counsel to corporate groups with cryptocurrency concerns, crypto exchanges, dealers that want to do business in the United States and globally, and for financial services companies that want to offer and accept crypto. With over 16 years of experience as an attorney in New York City, as founder of a legaltech startup, and as a Special Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, Shipkevich has a successful history solving complex problems and helping clients navigate favorably through today’s complicated legal and regulatory environments.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us about your work and your company?
I have always had a passion for law and justice. After law school, I worked for nearly a decade at large Wall Street companies, where I became exposed to legal and regulatory problems and opportunities in an evolving landscape of financial services. I founded Shipkevich PLLC in 2011, and over the past eight years, it has grown to become a leading provider of legal services for digital currency, fintech, regtech and business law. We handle transaction and litigation matters, and advise clients to provide solutions for their business concerns. Cryptocurrency is arguably one of the first financial instruments that can provide significant benefit and resources to underbanked individuals in developing countries as well as developed countries. We are proud to work with clients doing meaningful work in the cryptocurrency space, as its promise — for economic prosperity, efficiency and access — is incredible.
Can you tell us the story of how you got first involved with the Regtech or Crypto markets?
I’ve been involved in the RegTech and foreign exchange markets as a general counsel for global foreign exchange brokers since 2006. The first time I became involved in Bitcoin related matters was in 2010, a year after Bitcoin was created. I have worked in the space for nine years. I’m proud to be one of the first commodities and foreign exchange lawyers to get involved in the worlds of regtech and crypto.
Can you share 5 things that should be done to help stabilize the Crypto Economy?
- There needs to be international regulatory harmony. For regulators to create harmonious and reasonable rules that work, they need to work in their own jurisdictions and cross borders as well.
- There needs to be more clarity on crypto pricing and execution rates. This is an “over the counter” product and there is no central clearing party. There is still a lot of ambiguity on execution rates. Because it’s not under exchange pricing, there is little transparency on the rates. You might get priced out at a rate that is not competitive.
- Tech companies need better oversight. There needs to be better oversight, transparent and reasonable oversight over the tech companies in the crypto space. There are many people who are not familiar with the space, and easily taken advantage of. Without rules and oversight, ethics can be breached more easily.
- There needs to be harmonious efforts from RegTech on customer disclosure. Many people are buying for prospective reasons. They do not fully understand the risks involved in trading crypto. Most of the people who trade it don’t use them as payment instruments. They are buying it on spec to take advantage of its volatility, or price fluctuation, whether it’s bitcash, litecoin, most are buying it in the hopes it appreciates in value. Because cryptocurrencies for the most part are decentralized instruments, there is no central clearing counterpart, and people need to understand risks. There needs to be a harmonious international effort to disclose these risks.
- There needs to be reasonable global regulation. Without it, the situation creates regulatory arbitration. Because the space itself is fairly new, groups will regularly pick and choose different jurisdictions in which to operate. They will keep leapfrogging from one place to another, to circumvent the most rigorous jurisdictions. Creating more opportunities and fair regulation in one’s own jurisdiction, instead of inducing companies to leave to move their business to another, is the best way toward long-term success.
In your experience, what are the top strategies that crypto firms should be considering in order to have a competitive edge?
- Find a regulatory environment that is regulated and reasonable. In recent years, countries like Bermuda, Malta and Switzerland have become hubs for crypto exchanges and crypto firms. There is still significant lack of clarity in the US, which discourages companies from doing business in the US. We have many state and federal regulations, and it gets very complicated: there’s the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), FinCEN, and different state laws as well. Most countries have just one roadblock, we have in some cases a dozen.
- Secure great talent. Talent is the key to success with any business. For emerging crypto firms, I would ask: where can you find the talent to recruit? Cryptocurrency and fintech offerings are global products and services, so having multilingual professionals can help significantly. You want talent to have the technical knowledge, but also the ability to connect meaningfully with clients from around the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” -Sun Tzu. Working in the global financial services space, one always needs to be at the top of their game, because with so many variables, outcomes can be hard to control. I believe in finding opportunity and advantage in any situation. Achieving top results for clients is our number one priority, so finding that opportunity in chaos is a big part of my job.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you for all of these great insights!