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Cryptocurrency’s latest frenzy

Nothing is ever simple in the cryptocurrency world. With crypto being such a new industry, there is a lot of scrabbling about from even the highest of top dogs to try and get a handle on the combination of finance and technology that is the crypto sphere. 

Naturally, with the expansion of the cryptocurrency industry, there has been the need for new talent, so firms are finding themselves in a cycle of hiring new people. First there was the bankers. This was obvious, since we are talking about digital money here, but then the issue of regulation and compliance came up and suddenly the industry needed lawyers. Specifically, crypto firms need a compliance consultant. 

It seems crypto exchanges have gotten into a habit of pinching compliance consultants from law firms and even other crypto companies. As with any growing industry, there are new regulations coming in all the time while the finer details get ironed out. The idea is to get ahead of these regulations by hiring compliance consultants to help navigate the newly regulated industry, one that is going to go through a lot of regulatory changes as time goes on. 

A changing tide for cryptocurrency?

This makes quite the turnaround for the crypto sphere, which has traditionally rebuffed the idea of regulation and in fact marketed to their audience on the basis that it is unregulated and not beholden to any authority. 

The party line of crypto is that it’s The People’s Currency. Its decentralized nature means it doesn’t go through any central bank, like your country’s national bank, and the concept of “mining” allows those in the crypto sphere to put forward that it is self-regulatory. 

Unfortunately, some governments don’t agree. Sure, China is making their own digital currency, but it crucially, goes through the Chinese national bank, as does the Indian digital rupee. If the western world is to follow suit and create a digital currency, chances are it will go through the national bank and it will be regulated.

Even in the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has plans to turn Britain into a “crypto hub”, but it’s easy to spot the word “regulated” amongst his bullet points for how it is to be run and the fact that it is to be created in partnership with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. And Washington is also in the process of putting forward bills in the US that will regulate cryptocurrency. 

And rather than fighting, it seems like the cryptocurrency industry has decided they better get on board, as evident by the fact that they are collecting up compliance consultants like Bitcoins. 

Competition in the crypto industry

All of this competition, meanwhile, is driving up salaries in the crypto industry very quickly, leaving behind the in-house legal market in its growth. Senior-level positions in particular are seeing soaring salaries as they’re harder to fill. Annual packages, with tokens and equity, are seeing senior positions offered seven figures. 

To demonstrate just how desperate these firms are for new talent, the chief legal officer of Kraken, Marco Santori, lamented on Twitter about his crypto exchange looking to hire 30 lawyers in the following three months when he would really rather hire 60, “but honestly, I don’t know how I’d get it done.”

So, it seems only the practicalities of the onboarding process is what could be between a compliance consultant and a crypto role. 

The effect on law firms

However, law firms, especially in finance firms, are losing their compliance consultants to the new currency. In an industry that is already struggling to gain new talent, this isn’t helpful. To offset the loss in talent, they are creating opportunities for those who want to specialize in crypto by upping their crypto services. Sometimes this means poaching entire teams from other firms. 

Those who aren’t going so far as to pinch employees from other firms are focusing on retaining the ones they have, by extending their crypto services but also by making the job more palatable with competitive salaries and benefits.  

The role of compliance consultants in crypto

Due to the nature of cryptocurrency, which is a merging of finance and technology, there are a few educational guesses going on in the crypto sphere on what you need to be an effective compliance consultant. 

Using online banking as a blueprint, compliance consultants are expected to have experience in understanding anti-money laundering compliance and sanctions regulations. However, the financial side of the industry means that it is preferable for compliance consultants to be experienced in sanctions screening, transaction monitoring, and client onboarding. 

With cyber finances comes cybercrime, so it’s of the upmost importance to regulators that compliance consultants focus on cyber security, data protection and privacy. 

Even if you aren’t a compliance consultant, there are roles in blockchain engineering to maintain or support blockchain-based networks, or “technical blockchain evangelists”, which is essentially a marketing department for crypto. 

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