FTX, the third-largest crypto exchange by volume, appears to be courting former heads of state for an upcoming crypto conference in the Bahamas.
The two-day conference later this month features 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as panellists. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, is also a featured speaker.
While the list of speakers also features a veritable list of popular crypto and financial names, the three stand out for their political history. They also represent the latest step by FTX, and other crypto majors, in bringing on popular names to attract a wider audience.
Other notable panellists include star investor Cathie Wood, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, and U.S. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
FTX move sparks some criticism
Crypto twitter reacted to the announcement with some skepticism, pointing out that Clinton, Blair, and Davis have little to no experience in crypto or blockchain technology.
Of the three, only Clinton has some ties to crypto. The former U.S. President was a keynote speaker at an event organized by Ripple in 2018. His address was widely criticized for having little to do with crypto. But social media users noted that Clinton’s appearance had certainly helped in generating buzz over the event.
Commentators noted a similar trend now- that the appearance of figures such as Clinton and Blair on the panel was a publicity ploy, as opposed to actual discourse.
FTX is no stranger to featuring big names. The crypto exchange recently generated buzz over its Superbowl spot featuring comedian Larry David. It also features NFL major Tom Brady among its investors.
Former government officials find a place in crypto
Crypto companies are also no stranger to hiring former government officials- a common play by Wall Street firms to ensure regulatory compliance.
A report earlier this year showed that nearly 240 former government officials have switched tracks to pursue careers in crypto. The most notable of these is former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, who joined an Israeli crypto firm in 2021.
FTX had hired former CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen in 2021 as head of policy and regulatory strategy.
The trend comes amid growing lobbying by crypto firms to pass friendlier regulations in the United States. Hiring former officials also gives firms a better grasp on the regulatory landscape.