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The ‘Dean of Digital Currency Lawyers’ Marco Santori Joins Kraken as Chief Legal Officer

Kraken is thrilled to announce that Marco Santori is the latest industry veteran to join our growing global team. Marco is known as the ‘Dean of Digital Currency Lawyers’ for his pioneering work in litigating, advising on and even creating new law in the crypto industry.

Marco will use his experience with regulators, banks, payment service providers, broker-dealers, and several other key industry players to drive the next phase of Kraken’s growth.

Most recently, Marco served as President and Chief Legal Officer for Blockchain.com and as a law Partner at both Cooley LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop before that. He is also an advisor to the International Monetary Fund, the Blockchain Ambassador to the State of Delaware, and was the Chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Committee of the Bitcoin Foundation. 

We sat down with Marco to learn about his new role and get his perspective on the industry’s past, present and future.

Welcome Marco! When did you first learn about crypto, and what did you find so appealing about the industry?

My introduction to crypto was in 2012, through bitcoin mining. As far as I had heard, you could plug a box into the electrical socket and money came out. Who wouldn’t like that? So, I ordered a bitcoin miner from a company called Butterfly Labs. They never delivered the miner of course, but as I waited I researched, posted to web forums and used bitcoin to pay friends and family. After a few months I had joined the Bitcoin Foundation and was advising my first clients on crypto regulation. What started as a get-rich-quick lark turned out to be a career-making decision.

How has the industry changed since you first started?

The “industry” at that time was just a small handful of bitcoin exchanges, miners and payment processors. There was only one network – Bitcoin. There was no regulatory guidance and no laws specifically written for digital currency. Now there is, of course, a great multitude of networks, a growing body of regulatory guidance, and even crypto-specific laws. We have come a long way!

How has your work with private sector clients and regulators in the U.S. and around the world driven crypto adoption and acceptance?

Put simply: If it wasn’t for the work of the early crypto lawyers, digital currencies would be illegal in the US and most of the world. In the early days of crypto law, most regulators and policymakers struggled to find any redeeming qualities in decentralized value networks. Our work over the years has not only communicated the potential for these technologies, but also guided reasonable new policymaking that will foster their growth.

In your view, what are some of the biggest questions that regulators continue to struggle with when it comes to crypto?

Regulators continue to struggle with understanding crypto’s value proposition. Smart policymaking, efficient enforcement prioritization, and even public messaging points all must flow from a basic understanding of crypto’s value proposition. The fundamental challenge isn’t really that regulators don’t understand it; it’s that the industry itself hasn’t yet come to agreement. Digital gold? Digital dollar? Digital oil? Metaphors abound, and no single industry voice has emerged to communicate the holistic vision to regulators. Good regulatory engagement today means balancing these messages with fairness and credibility.

Kraken serves clients throughout the world.  What challenges does this present to you in this role?

Balancing effective advocacy across multiple regulators is a challenge not only because of the different laws in their jurisdictions, but also because of their varied cultural approaches to policy making and enforcement. Tracking and developing sound responses to these cultural requirements is critical to achieving the client’s goals, but it’s only one brick in the road carrying the entire industry to a safe and effective regulatory environment that still fosters innovation.

What did you find appealing about Kraken?

Focus. To survive, companies must expand into new products and services, but most companies attempting this fall to distraction, under-resourcing or cultural dilution. Kraken has managed to accomplish this, and has thrived, while maintaining its principles and brand.

What are your goals and expectations in this role?

I expect to continue my work in creating a regulatory environment that fosters innovation while sanctifying consumer well-being. Internally, I aim to create an environment of ability and success for all things legal – from product innovation to business partnerships and corporate governance. Kraken’s impeccable team has built a rocket ship. I hope to support them on the journey skyward.

Once again, welcome Marco!

The Kraken Team

P.S. Have you tried the Kraken Pro mobile app yet?

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