Winklevoss-Owned Gemini Galactic Snags FINRA Broker-Dealer Approval

The license could open up future opportunities around digital securities trading.

Jan 26, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2022 at 3:47 p.m. UTC

Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

Gemini Galactic Markets, part of the Winklevoss twins’ crypto conglomerate Gemini, has been approved for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) membership and with it the ability to operate as a broker-dealer registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The approval allows Gemini Galactic to operate an alternative trading system (ATS), which will facilitate the trading of “digital asset securities,” Gemini said, adding that such assets are subject to U.S. securities laws, like traditional stocks and bonds are, and therefore can be bought and sold only through a licensed broker-dealer.

John Reinhardt, director of custody operations at Gemini, said it remains to be seen exactly what kind of offerings digital asset securities will include. “These securities will initially include private placements and, as the market matures, may include public offerings as well,” Reinhardt said in an email to CoinDesk.

Return of the security token?

Back in 2016 and 2017, tokenized securities and security tokens were all the rage as believers said they would trade on regulated ATS venues and revolutionize existing market infrastructure. A couple of years on, it could be argued the action has moved elsewhere, mostly around cryptocurrencies flowing on public blockchains and non-fungible token (NFT) applications.

But Gemini Galactic appears to be biding its time. The company said it’s “excited to be a first mover” and to help further develop this market.

“The growth of the digital asset securities market and the use of blockchain for securities infrastructure will depend on further clarity from regulators and additional investment by companies such as Gemini,” Reinhardt wrote in the email. “Once there are real use cases, the market will be able to grow, and we are excited to be a pioneer in this space.”

Gemini initially made its broker-dealer application to self-regulatory body FINRA in mid-2019. To date, the exchange, which is owned by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has gathered an impressive clutch of licenses, approvals and regulatory nods across its trading and custody divisions.

“Our primary regulatory license is with the NYDFS [New York State Department of Financial Services] for Gemini’s custody and exchange business. We hold other state and federal licenses, where necessary, to operate throughout the United States, and we are registered or our registration is pending to offer our services in a number of foreign jurisdictions, including in Asia and Europe,” Reinhardt said.

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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