Citadel's CEO says regulatory uncertainty is keeping the firm out of crypto

Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin isn't a fan of crypto, but that's not why Citadel doesn't trade it.

During an interview with the Economic Club of Chicago, the billionaire hedge funder said Citadel would trade crypto if there were more regulatory certainty.

Though Griffin teased he would receive hate mail for his less-than-positive views on digital assets, he said his views have little to do with why Citadel has yet to dip its toes into digital asset market-making.

If crypto were regulated, Citadel would trade it, Griffin said. There is a demand for it from the firm's online partners, and the firm trades related to businesses with which he disagrees. As it stands today, the regulatory uncertainty is just too great.

"Because of a lack of regulatory certainty around cryptocurrency, we just aren't involved today," he said. "I believe [Securities and Exchange Commission] Chairperson Gensler is spot-on on the need to have thoughtful regulation around cryptocurrency."

Regulatory clarity will create greater competition, leading to a smaller market, according to Griffin. The "virtues of the product," which Griffin says he finds to be "pretty nebulous," will change as top-tier market makers get involved. 

He said he wished the fervency around the developments in crypto were funneled towards building a stronger U.S. economic system.

"It's a jihadist call that we don't believe in the dollar," he said. "What a crazy concept this is that we as a country embrace so many bright talented people to come up with a replacement for our reserve currency."

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Aislinn Keely joined The Block in the summer of 2019. She is a member of the outlet's policy team, holding down the legal beat. Before The Block, she lent her voice to the NPR affiliate WFUV, where she reported and anchored newscasts in addition to some podcast work. Aislinn is a proud Fordham Ram and editor-in-chief emerita of its newspaper. When she isn't writing or reporting, Aislinn is running and rock climbing.