Kraken’s Head Of Strategy: Our Business Felt Crypto Winter's Chill

Thomas Perfumo said the firm has not been insulated from the broader economy. Here's what he says the exchange wants to do next.

AccessTimeIconFeb 8, 2023 at 7:48 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. UTC

Even Kraken, one of the largest centralized crypto exchanges by trading volume, hasn’t been immune to the global economy’s shifting trends, said Thomas Perfumo, its head of strategy.

“We’re not insulated from the broader macro and economic environment,” Perfumo told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Tuesday, adding that crypto winter “definitely had an effect on the business.”

Earlier this month, Kraken closed its Abu Dhabi office, less than a year after it had obtained a local license to operate in the emirate. In December the exchange said it was leaving Japan by the end of January.

Perfumo said Kraken’s Abu Dhabi and Japan offices were small parts of the business. Now the company is looking to “hunker down and focus on the big core parts.” Instead of opening a large number of regional offices, Kraken is limiting the “depth of our services,” he said.

“So in some cases we might not offer access or funding with the local currency,” he said. “However, you might be in a particular region where if you have access to bitcoin you can still deposit that bitcoin to Kraken and use some of our other services where it applies.”

The San Francisco-based exchange, founded in 2011, serves millions of users in over 200 countries, according to CoinMarketCap.

Kraken is looking to expand in Europe and North America, according to Perfumo, who added the firm is looking to provide “as much possible global access” to the exchange’s services where they’re applicable. Currently, the exchange is open to U.S. residents except those in New York and Washington State.

Kraken, and other industry players, continue to navigate crypto’s slump. In November the exchange cut back 30% of its staff, or roughly 1,100 employees, because of the crypto industry’s market downturn.

Perfumo said Kraken is now looking to “focus and narrow its scope to parts of the business that are likely to drive the greatest amount of impact.”

It also wants to help rebuild “trust and reputation within the industry.” Kraken “specifically has had no material exposure to all of the volatility in the industry when it came to centralized firms collapsing throughout 2022.”

“We’re focused on that long-term vision to increase and to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency, and we’re focused on delivering a great client experience in the meantime,” Perfumo said. He added Kraken is “constantly focused on earning our clients trust every single day, day in day out, through things like proof of reserves, even before it mattered.”


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Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.

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