Cowboys and Crypto
How Wyoming Became the New Frontier for Financial Innovation
Streaming here on:
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 3:00pm ET / 12:00pm PT
The state of Wyoming is known as the Wild West - a land of wide open spaces, the nation's most iconic national parks, and rodeo broncin' bucks. But Wyoming, over the last few years, has become known for something else - cryptocurrency. So how has Wyoming become the new frontier for financial innovation? It could be a forward leaning approach to chartering "crypto banks," favorable legislation that provides legal clarity around cryptocurrency, or the safe and sound banking environment for crypto-businesses? It is likely all of the above plus a savvy group of regulators, state senators and industry leaders coming together to make the Cowboy State the Crypto State. TRM Talks is joined by that group - Albert Forkner, Wyoming State Banking Commissioner, Wyoming State Senator Chris Rothfuss, Co-Chair of the Wyoming Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation and David Kinitsky, President and CEO of Kraken Financial.
Wyoming State Banking Commissioner
Albert Forkner was appointed to head the Wyoming Division of Banking as State Banking Commissioner in 2012. In this role Forkner is responsible for the supervision and regulation of all state-chartered banks, independent trust companies, licensed non-depository financial entities operating, and the newly created blockchain/crypto-friendly Special Purpose Depository Institution in Wyoming.
Mr. Forkner has over 23 years with the Wyoming Division of Banking. Prior to serving as commissioner, he was the deputy banking commissioner at the Division, a position he held for four years. His experience also includes chief examiner and senior bank examiner at the Division, and a commercial and real estate loan officer. He served as the chairman of the board of directors for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors during 2017-18.
Mr. Forkner received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from the University of Wyoming and he is a graduate of Cannon Financial Institute and the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado.
Dr. Chris Rothfuss
Wyoming State Senator and Co-Chair of the Wyoming Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation
Dr. Chris Rothfuss is the Senate Minority Leader of the Wyoming Legislature. First elected in 2010, he represents Senate District 9 in Laramie, Wyoming. Senator Rothfuss co-chairs the Wyoming Blockchain Select Committee and serves as the ranking member of the Education Committee and the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee.
Outside of the Legislature, Chris is an advanced technology consultant and a professor for the University of Wyoming Honors College. He has worked as a consulting inventor since 2010, providing technology solutions that have resulted in over 25 patent applications and 15 granted patents ranging from 3d printing to augmented reality to energy storage.
From 2003-06, Chris was an AAAS Science and Technology Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Space and Advanced Technology. He served as the U.S. lead for nanotechnology foreign policy, and as a delegate to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Dr. Rothfuss received his PhD in Chemical Engineering and MS in Applied Physics from the University of Washington; and his MS in Chemical Engineering and BA in International Studies from the University of Wyoming where he competed as a member and captain of the Cowboy debate team. Chris lives in Laramie with his wife, Dr. Heather Rothfuss, and their 4 children - Connor, Zane, Finn and Cora.
President and CEO of Kraken Financial
David Kinitsky is a Managing Director at Kraken and the CEO of its affiliated Special Purpose Depository Institution entity. He has spent the past ~15 years of his professional career within the Financial Services and FinTech industries focused at the intersection of traditional finance and newly emerging alternative asset classes, financial markets, and economic networks, including substantial experience within the cryptocurrency space.
Mr. Kinitsky recently joined Kraken from Circle Internet Financial where he led Corporate Development & Strategy and Business Development across the company’s payments and stablecoin platform, and its cryptocurrency trading and exchange markets.
Previously, Mr. Kinitsky had been with Fidelity Investments where he was a co-Portfolio Manager of an internal proprietary crypto asset investment fund under its Devonshire Investments arm, and led the company’s cross-organizational thematically-dedicated innovation research efforts out of its Bitcoin and Blockchain Center of Excellence at Fidelity Labs and the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology. During this time, Mr. Kinitsky also served as a Scientific Advisor to the University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies.
Before Fidelity, Mr. Kinitsky was the founding General Manager of the Digital Currency Group subsidiary, Grayscale Investments, and its flagship Grayscale Bitcoin Trust: a passive bitcoin-backed tracking fund with more than $2 billion in assets under management that trades on the OTCQX market under the GBTC ticker symbol.
Prior to the formation of Digital Currency Group, Mr. Kinitsky was with its predecessor company, SecondMarket, where he served in a variety of senior operations and product related roles, and helped build and run the pre-IPO private company securities platform business, which was acquired by Nasdaq as a spin-out and now operates as the Nasdaq Private Market.
Mr. Kinitsky has also spent time raising seed capital for alternative investment hedge fund managers and working on transactional corporate, securities and intellectual property law matters, earlier in his career. He holds both a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Head of Legal and Government Affairs at TRM Labs
Ari Redbord is Head of Legal and Government Affairs at TRM Labs, a blockchain analytics company that helps organizations detect, assess and investigate crypto-related fraud and financial crime. Prior to his role at TRM, Ari was the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary and the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the United States Treasury. In that position, he worked with teams from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and other Treasury components to deploy sanctions and other regulatory tools against threat actors, including terrorist financiers, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, drug kingpins, and other rogue actors, including Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela. In addition, Ari worked closely with regulators, the Hill and the interagency on issues related to the Bank Secrecy Act, cryptocurrency, and anti-money laundering strategies.
Prior to Treasury, Ari was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for eleven years where he investigated and prosecuted terrorism, espionage, threat finance, cryptocurrency, export control, child exploitation and human trafficking cases.