PayPal chief compliance officer (CCO) Jean-Baptiste Graftieaux has revealed that he has left his current position at the global payments giant to join one of the largest bitcoin exchanges by USD trading volume, Bitstamp.
Graftieaux served as a director and CCO of PayPal's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) division for more than five years, starting in January 2009. Prior to joining PayPal, Graftieaux was also a CCO at online ticket marketplace StubHub. Today was Graftieaux's final day at PayPal.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Graftieaux framed his latest endeavor as one that allows him to pursue his fascination with the bitcoin ecosystem as a full-time career.
"I have been attracted by the culture of Bitstamp and also by its people. The Bitstamp employees that I have met are committed, optimistic and passionate and we share the same passion for the bitcoin ecosystem."
He further reported that he is a bitcoin user, and that he has been following the ecosystem for a few years.
Bitstamp is one of the more well-funded bitcoin exchanges internationally, garnering a $10m investment from Pantera Capital in 2013, though it has seen its position in the global USD trading market slip in recent weeks amid increased volumes on rival China-based exchanges.
Bitstamp's regulatory ambassador
Graftieaux suggested that his day-to-day activities at Bitstamp would entail leading the exchange's compliance program. Perhaps more notably, however, his duties will also include reaching out to engage relevant regulators in discussion about how the exchange can best move forward with business objectives.
Graftieaux said he would look to "preserve the interests of the bitcoin ecosystem" during these conversations, and that he will seek to actively engage government representatives in talks that allow him to present Bitstamp's position on issues.
He went on to illustrate how both he and his new company would work together on a shared goal, albeit different objectives.
"My role will consist of enabling the Bitstamp business expansion, where Bitstamp will maximise compliance with regulatory requirements and user experience," he added.
Bitcoin proving draw for payments veterans
The news that Graftieaux will leave PayPal to join a bitcoin startup comes at a time when a growing number of his peers are beginning to consider the industry.
While far from dominating the mainstream payments conversation, high-profile members of that community, including former Visa exec and CCO Tim Byun, ex-VeriFone CFO Bob Dykes and former Obopay CEO Carol Realini have made their interest in bitcoin as a disruptive payments technology clear.
A similar trend can also be see in the financial industry, where members of Wall Street firms are beginning to look to the bitcoin industry as one that could provide lucrative, long-term opportunity.
When asked how his past work would help him meet the objectives of his new job, he added:
"When it comes to anti-money laundering, understanding the package of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, Basel guidance and regulations serves as the basis for driving the development of that part of the compliance program."
Bitstamp renews emphasis on compliance
The hiring also comes at a time when Bitstamp is seeking to emphasize its willingness to cooperate with global regulators as the attention of this group continues to shift toward the bitcoin industry.
For example, Bitstamp announced on 16th October that it would potentially hand over funds in user accounts to relevant government authorities should users fail to verify their accounts within 28 days. The decision was widely discussed by its customers, who had mixed reactions to the news.
Bitstamp has made other areas of its business a priority as well, this week announcing a new graphical trading interface to improve its user experience. The move perhaps signals that it is responding to increasing competition from China, even as it focuses on regulation in its home market.