High-profile internet entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have outlined their plan to win regulatory approval for a Bitcoin Exchange Traded fund (ETF).
The twins – who famously sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea – have now tried and failed twice to win over the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but believe they will eventually succeed.
Speaking to podcaster Laura Shin, the twins (both of whom Micky will quote as ‘Mr Winklevoss’ because we couldn’t tell difference between the pair) said they have a plan to quash the concerns of the SEC, which believes Bitcoin markets are prone to manipulation.
“The quick answer is (by) answering their call and (requesting) … more market surveillance on the crypto marketplace,” Mr Winklevoss said.
“We’ve started to do that with the Virtual Commodity Association … and (by) bringing NASDAQ’s smartest technology to our marketplace.
“Those are the steps in the right direction to getting regulators comfortable with eventually approving an ETF-like product.”
The dissenting commissioner
When the SEC rejected the Winklevoss’ second bid for an ETF, one of its commissioners wasn’t happy.
Commissioner Hester M. Peirce said she’d “respectfully dissent” from the Commission’s order disapproving a proposed rule change to list and trade shares of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust on BATS BZX Exchange.
“Contrary to the Commission’s determination, I believe that the proposed rule change satisfies the statutory standard and that we should permit BZX to list and trade this bitcoin-based exchange-traded product (“ETP”),” she said.
In response, the twins have told Laura Shin they believe “a lot of people” would agree with the Commissioner’s dissent, but they also understand why her colleagues voted the way they did.
“Look, we understand that Bitcoin is a totally new asset class and we’ve got to get it right,” they said.
“So if the commission is taking a very conservative viewpoint in this regard, because it’s really going to be the first of many and open the flood gates, you know, we can live with that.
The twins say that investors deserve the same protections that they get by buying traditional shares, such as in Tesla or Apple.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for regulators to strive for that,” Mr Winklevoss said.
“Especially since … this would be the first of many. It’s much more than just one product.
“It’s a really big … it opens a big frontier and it’s got to be opened correctly.”
The Gemini stable coin
As well as working on a Bitcoin ETF, the Winklevoss twins have developed a stable coin called the “Gemini dollar.”
During the Laura Shin podcast, they explained how the idea came about and why they believe it has a good chance of succeeding.
“Over the last, I don’t know, 40 years the purchasing power of a (US) dollar has lost, you know, 87 percent of its purchasing power whereas, something like gold, on the other hand, has gone up 23 times,” Mr Winklevoss said.
“So, you’ve got gold on the blockchain. You’ve got securities on the blockchain. We need to get dollars in blockchain.
“(That) will empower and fuel the decentralised app movement and all of these other cool, use case scenarios.”
The twins say that when they launched the stable coin in September, they weren’t aware of many of the other stable coin projects.
“Obviously, Paxos launched the same day and Circle, I think, followed a month thereafter, (and) Tether is Tether.
“I don’t think we need to spend a whole lot of time on why that’s problematic as a stablecoin, but I think one of the … biggest difference(s) perhaps between the Gemini dollar and the other stablecoins is we have exhaustively and publicly stated where the dollars are held.”
The twins say they are using the State Street bank, which is one of the largest custodians in the world.
“It took us a very long time to build that relationship … but the great thing about State Street is it has a tremendous balance sheet.
“It has effectively unlimited capacity and it’s been around for 225 years or so.”
The advertising campaign
The Winklevoss’ company, Gemini, recently launched an advertising campaign in New Your City. They’ve plastered banners on subways and in taxis across the city and have several billboards.
“This is our first campaign and we’re a New York based company, so it made sense to sort of test (in) this city,” Mr Winklevoss said.
“It also happens to be one of the financial capitals of the world, and also has one of the preeminent … virtual currency regulators, New York DFS.
“So, it felt like a great starting point to start a campaign.
The twins say that, s far, the campaign has struck a chord, especially with those who believe in crypto.
“They’ve been reading about it for years and they don’t really need to be sold on the dream of crypto or its promise,” Mr Winklevoss said.
“What they’re unsure about is how to engage in crypto in a safe and compliant manner, and so we’re really trying to just start the conversation and let people know that there are regulated exchanges and custodians like Gemini where you can easily buy, sell, and store your crypto and it’s not some Wild West.
“We have to continued to change the narrative.
“I’m sure you remember the Silk Road days where you couldn’t really read a single article without some mention (about) … how Bitcoin is anonymous and only used for illicit activity, and we know how wrong that narrative is.
“It’s simply not the case, so it’s really important for the community for us to really start continuing the dialogue and educating people that this is a very valid technology.
“What we really don’t want is a lot of sophisticated people who believe in the technology who miss out on that next wave of getting involved.” M