Circle Hires Former Goldman Sachs Executive to Spearhead Regulatory Affairs


Cryptocurrency unicorn Circle has hired an ex- Goldman Sachs executive to head its Global Regulatory Affairs.

Benedicte Nolens, formerly an investment banker at Goldman Sachs as an executive director, has joined Circle. Part of his mandate will also include heading the regulatory wing encompassing operations in Europe and Asia.

Circle’s big move comes at a time the company is looking towards a vigorous expansion program. According to Business Insider, the company wants to expand its global reach in the field of crypto securities trading.

The entry of Nolens is a significant move for Circle and one that is likely to spearhead its penetration into European and Asian markets.

The former Goldman Sachs employee is a vastly experienced individual in the area of regulatory compliance. More significantly, the timing of her switch to Circle means she has just left her position at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

A widely respected mind in the securities trading industry, Nolens also previously worked as a Chief Compliance Officer at Credit Suisse.

Expansion efforts underway as firm look at securities tokens

The hiring of Nolens is a big part of Circle’s overall plan to offer securities tokens trading. The company took firm steps earlier in the year when it launched its offices in two prime locations: Beijing and Hong Kong.

To underscore their efforts, the firm has successfully rolled out an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk at the beginning of the year.

At the moment, the product is responsible for about a third of the platform’s monthly trading volume. It’s a tidy 30 percent of its average volume that is estimated to be worth $2 billion.

Quite interestingly, but vitally important is the fact that Circle has the backing of Goldman Sachs.

The investment banking giant is increasingly becoming warm towards crypto and has given financial support to the company that also operates the Circle cryptocurrency exchange.

The US banking license

Early June, reports published in Bloomberg suggested that Circle was holding talks with US authorities. The main goal of the talks was to explore ways by which the company would acquire a Federal Banking license.  It also sought a green light to register and operate as a securities exchange.

According to the company’s CEO Jeremy Allaire, its intention was to be the first crypto startup to be granted such a license.

At the time, Allaire had observed that:

“To hold reserves with the Federal Reserve, to natively access the central-banking system without intermediaries, to directly settle with other banks in other markets around the world through those networks — that can improve the efficiency of what we deliver, it can reduce the costs.”

However, before it gets the banking license, Circle believes registering with the SEC will allow it to operate as a fully-regulated and licensed broker-dealer.

Apart from allowing it to offer a trading platform for assets deemed to be securities, it will also open it up for tokens issued during initial coin offering (ICOs).

Eyeing the expanding securities tokens market

Circle’s expansion in the securities sector could add to its operations as a crypto exchange/trading platform as well as a brokerage firm.

The regulatory approval allows it to offer crypto-based assets that are deemed securities by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As a way forward, the company will target working with other businesses within the sector which have indicated a willingness to offer tokenized securities.

That explains Circle’s pursuit of a federal license that would make it easy to roll out operations all over the US.

The company’s new head of Global Regulatory affairs Nolens says that the next year or so will be vital in the efforts to offer assets that qualify as securities tokens.

Accordingly, she believes the best way forward will be to spend time in trying to understand the regulatory landscape.

It’s her belief that this is better than merely relying on regulatory guidance by authorities.

It’s upon this premise that Circle has undertaken to be actively involved in regulatory meetings around the globe, Nolens adds.

Circle has continued to position itself within the crypto space over the last several months. It recently acquired crypto exchange Poloniex as well as introduced two new services on its platform.

The Circle Invest is geared towards retail crypto traders, while Circle Trade is designed to offer institutional investors opportunities to trade crypto.

CNBC reported in June that Circle was “one of the most well-funded blockchain start-ups”. It revealed that the company had seen an increase of about 30 percent in institutional investors who on-boarded its premier “Circle Trade”.

The platform’s May performance surpassed that of Bitcoin which was down by 20 percent.

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