Binance poaches FCA official as global regulation head

Crypto exchange giant Binance has appointed a top official from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as its global director of regulatory policy. 

Steven McWhirter left the regulator after a more than nine-year tenure, where he held a number of fintech-related roles, according to a LinkedIn post on Friday seen by The Block and confirmed by McWhirter. Most recently, he worked as a strategy and engagement manager in the data, technology and innovation division. 

He had contributed to the much-anticipated Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, commissioned by the chancellor to identify strategic areas of development in the sector. 

"I've been very fortunate in my time at the FCA to be involved in many national, European and global policy initiatives and debates, particularly in respect of financial services regulation of technology, where working with many great regulators, firms and global bodies gave me a ringside seat during a fascinating period in policy making," he wrote on LinkedIn. 


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"As a regulator, who would have thought a few years ago that Cloud, AI, DLT, MetaFi, or DAO to name a few would become so topical..?"

The appointment comes as Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, the high-profile crypto billionaire universally known as CZ, was recently spotted wooing an influential gathering of UK government officials in Westminster. 

McWhirter is the latest example of an official formerly housed at a public entity, such as a central bank, government or regulator, going in-house to a crypto firm. It is not clear where in the world he will be based. 

Earlier this week, The Block revealed that the Bank of England's fintech chief had left to join custody platform Fireblocks. Last year, Austrian exchange Bitpanda also hired former FCA official Matthias Bauer-Langgartner as its managing director for UK and Ireland. Alongside these, ex-UK chancellor Philip Hammond joined Copper as a senior advisor last year. 

Binance didn't return requests for comment by press time.

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Lucy is an editor focusing on NFTs, gaming and the metaverse. Prior to joining she worked as a freelancer, with bylines in Wired, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @LHM1.