MLB Star Shohei Ohtani Joins Tom Brady, Steph Curry as FTX Investors and Ambassadors

In brief

  • MLB star Shohei Ohtani has joined FTX as a global brand ambassador.
  • The Angels player will be paid in cryptocurrency and receive equity in the company.

Shohei Ohtani is a global icon: a popular baseball player who thrived in Japan before dominating in Major League Baseball over the last few seasons. Now he’ll lend that star status to cryptocurrency exchange FTX as its latest global brand ambassador.

Today, FTX announced the alliance with Ohtani—the latest in a recent series of sports world sponsorships and signings for the rising exchange. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher will be paid in cryptocurrency and also receive equity in the company, according to a report from CNN.

Alongside his increasing global popularity, Ohtani is also unique in being both a successful pitcher and a powerful batter. He belted 46 home runs during the 2021 season, for example, but also won nine games as the Angels’ starting pitcher. That rare combination has made him one of the biggest stars in the league.

For FTX, today’s announcement only extends a recent run of splashy moves designed to help expand the brand via sports partnerships and ambassadors. FTX is much younger than leading exchange Coinbase, for example, but is trying to make up the difference in brand awareness by targeting sports and esports fans alike.

“There’s been some user growth, but we are really coming from behind on name recognition,” FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said last week at the Decrypt and Yahoo Finance Crypto Goes Mainstream event. “We’ve been around for two and a half years. That’s a lot less long than some of the other big names in the crypto exchange business. When someone’s looking to get involved in crypto for the first time, we’ve found that they haven’t heard of FTX.”

FTX previously brought on NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA star Stephen Curry as fellow brand ambassadors, with both similarly receiving equity shares as part of their respective deals. The exchange also partnered with Major League Baseball as the league’s official crypto sponsor, with FTX patches appearing on the umpires’ uniforms.

The exchange also purchased naming rights for the Miami Heat’s arena, as well as for the stadium of Cal Berkeley’s football team. In the esports industry, FTX paid $210 million for naming rights to popular club Team SoloMid (now TSM FTX), and also sponsored Riot Games’ League of Legends competitions.

In September, Bankman-Fried told Decrypt Editor-in-Chief Dan Roberts that while he couldn’t prove that the sports spending was boosting user counts, he saw anecdotal evidence that it was helping with brand awareness. “You can’t just buy that with Facebook ads,” he said.


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Crypto Exchange FTX US to Double-Down on Miami Presence

FTX US is expanding its presence in Miami, Florida, where the crypto exchange has already established a firm foothold. 

The firm is building permanent office space for 16 to 18 employees in Miami’s financial district, according to a recent Bloomberg interview with FTX US’s vice president of business development, Avinash Dabir. 

Dabir also said there is a significant opportunity in crypto and real estate—albeit in its early stages. He reportedly imagines a time in the future when property titles could be NFTs, or escrow accounts could be handled via smart contracts. 

“I can’t think of a better place to do that. It feels like everyone I talk to is in real estate, outside of crypto,” he told Bloomberg

He also added that the company’s existing Miami-related partnerships, including one with Property Markets Group, will help establish and facilitate real estate transactions via cryptocurrencies. 

FTX’s growing Miami footprint

This is the latest move in FTX’s focus on the crypto-friendly city of Miami.

Earlier this year, the exchange finalized a deal with the Miami Heat that saw the NBA franchise’s home stadium renamed the FTX Arena. The deal—which is in place for 19 years—is part of FTX’s ambitious marketing push. 

Two days ago, Sam Bankman-Fried said the crypto exchange is looking to spend big on marketing—specifically sports marketing—to boost name recognition in a crowded crypto exchange space. 

“When someone’s looking to get involved in crypto for the first time, we’ve found that they haven’t heard of FTX,” the CEO said during the Decrypt and Yahoo Finance Crypto Goes Mainstream event earlier this week. 

“We’ve been around for two and a half years. That’s a lot less than some of the other big names in the crypto exchange business,” he added.


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FTX US Beats Kraken, Coinbase as America’s Most Liquid Crypto Exchange

FTX.US, the American affiliate of Sam Bankman-Fried’s global cryptocurrency exchange FTX International, is snapping at rival’s heels, with the latest trading report promising more competition in the market.

West Realm Shires Services Inc, the operator of FTX.US, today announced the exchange’s trading results for Q3 2021, with a 512% increase in average daily trading volume (about $360 million) among the key metrics covered.

The platform saw $768 million traded in the last 24 hours, according to CoinGecko, which is not much away from the peak value of $807 million recorded during a 24-hour period on September 7.

FTX.US is currently the fourth-largest digital assets exchange in the U.S. in terms of volumes, with only Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance.US ahead.

There is, however, one crucial metric where FTX.US is already outperforming both Coinbase and Kraken: liquidity.

The term is used in financial markets to describe the ease by which an asset can be converted into cash or swapped for another asset. The higher the liquidity, the lower the risk that an exchange operator won’t be able to meet a trade at its quoted price.

According to Cryptowatch, FTX.US is currently holding the number one ranking of all crypto exchanges in the U.S. for liquidity, with the company stressing that it maintained this position since the start of the year.

FTX.US also reported that it was responsible for about 4.5% of the entire U.S. spot market trading volume by the end of September—up 2% at the start of Q3.

User count in the period between July and September increased by 52%, said the exchange.

“The trust and support of our user base has allowed FTX.US to become the fastest growing and most in-demand crypto exchange in the U.S., but we have barely scratched the surface,” Brett Harrison, President of FTX.US, said in a statement.

According to him, the exchange will continue to improve its existing offerings and “rapidly expand into new areas, including derivatives, NFTs, and payment services.”

FTX dials in regulatory ambitions

During Q3 FTX.US also announced the launch of its own market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Still, the primary focus remains the firm’s derivatives plans.

In August, the company announced the acquisition of LedgerX, a crypto derivatives trading platform regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The deal was finalized last month and saw LedgerX rebranded to FTX US Derivatives.

According to Harrison, this acquisition puts FTX.US “in the unique position to reshape the U.S. derivatives market,” as it enables the company to provide licensed crypto futures and options to both retail and institutional customers.

FTX.US is also hoping to play a central role in defining crypto regulatory policy in the U.S. said Harrison.

To further strengthen its positions in this area, last week the exchange hired Mark Wetjen, former CFTC commissioner, as its head of policy and regulatory strategy.


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Former CFTC Commissioner Joins Bitcoin Exchange FTX US

In brief

  • Mark Wetjen has served on the CFTC as well as on the board of directors for LedgerX.
  • FTX US is looking to expand into crypto derivatives.

FTX US, the American affiliate of Sam Bankman-Fried’s exchange empire, announced today that it has hired Mark Wetjen as head of policy and regulatory strategy.

Though not a household name, Wetjen is a desirable addition for the growing company, having served as a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner from 2011 to 2016. Wetjen also took on the role of acting chairman for five months when then-chair Gary Gensler (who now chairs the Securities and Exchange Commission) left the agency in early 2014.

The CFTC is the federal regulator of derivatives—financial contracts based on assets such as commodities or stocks. This includes Bitcoin futures and options, which allow people to speculate on the future price of the cryptocurrency.

It may come as no surprise that FTX US intends to add crypto derivatives trading alongside its current spot offerings; its parent exchange has become the primary competitor to Binance on the back of its derivatives offerings. It recently finalized the acquisition of LedgerX, the first crypto derivatives platform to be regulated by the CFTC. Perhaps uncoincidentally, after departing the CFTC, Wetjen joined the board of directors of LedgerX. 

“We’ve created FTX US Derivatives with the intention of becoming the first US-regulated crypto exchange to provide crypto derivatives trading to our user base,” FTX US President Brett Harrison said in a press release, “and Mark’s experience and guidance will be instrumental in achieving this goal.”

In his capacity as public affairs chief, Wetjen will be charged with lobbying and communicating with regulatory agencies and the legislative committees that oversee them. This should bring him in close contact with his former colleague Gensler.

Gensler and his CFTC counterpart, acting chair Rostin Behnam, have been jockeying for position in regulating the fledgling cryptocurrency market. Gensler has sought for the SEC to have a greater role in regulating stablecoins, the dollar-pegged assets that facilitate entry into crypto ecosystems. Behnam, meanwhile, asked the Senate Committee on Agriculture to broaden his agency’s authority to regulate cryptocurrencies beyond merely derivatives.

Wetjen said he’s looking forward to “advancing the regulatory conversation of the crypto landscape on behalf of FTX US.”


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Crypto Exchange FTX Hits $25 Billion Valuation in Latest Funding Round

FTX, the second most popular crypto exchange after Binance, has announced it’s riding on a new valuation of $25 billion after raising $420,690,000 in a funding round of 69 investors, including the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and asset management giants BlackRock and Tiger Global. 

The new funding round comes just three months after FTX raised $900 million in a Series B featuring Sequoia Capital, Paradigm, and Coinbase Ventures. 

Since the July raise and a valuation of $18 billion, the crypto exchange has grown by leaps and bounds. 

The crypto exchange’s user base has reportedly grown by 48% and its average trade volume has increased by 75%. On average, it handled around $13 billion worth of daily trading this month.

The new funds will be put towards addressing “adjacent market opportunities including equities, prediction markets, NFTs and videogame partnerships,” said FTX’s head of product, Ramnik Arora. “We expect to make strategic investments designed to grow the business and expand our regulatory coverage.”

FTX in recent news

In September, FTX relocated from Hong Kong to the more Bitcoin-friendly Bahamas. 

FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman Fried said on Twitter that “The Bahamas is one of the few places to set up a comprehensive framework for crypto,” adding that the country “has emerged from COVID lively, safe, and without quarantine.” 

Earlier this month, reports emerged that FTX was also planning on setting up a Political Action Committee, or PAC. A PAC pools contributions from its members to assist with lobbying efforts and is then able to donate up to $5,000 to any political candidate. 

Despite the reports, FTX denied it was setting up a PAC.


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FTX Relocates From Hong Kong to Bitcoin-Friendly Bahamas

Behemoth cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been cagey about where it’s located. Its biggest competitor has no such issues.

FTX, the second-most-popular crypto trading platform, has officially moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas, according to its website. It remains incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda.

Earlier this week, FTX Trading Limited received licenses for subsidiaries in Gibraltar and the Bahamas. It will operate under the banner of FTX Digital Markets in the latter, where it is registered as a digital assets business by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas.

In a statement on Twitter, FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said, “The Bahamas is one of the few places to set up a comprehensive framework for crypto.” He added that the country “has emerged from COVID lively, safe, and without quarantine.”

The Bahamas, along with other Caribbean countries such as Bermuda, have embraced cryptocurrency businesses. The Bahamas began releasing the Sand Dollar, a central bank digital currency, onto the market last year. And Bahamas-based Deltec bank already provides services to FTX, Tether and other exchanges.

Moreover, the country passed the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges Bill in late 2020, extending licensing to crypto and other Fintech firms. FTX Digital Markets is the first digital asset bill registered under the act. Securities Commission Executive Director Christina Rolle lauded the DARE Act’s role in attracting FTX to the island—and hinted that more crypto firms could soon land.

“It’s a huge vote of confidence for the jurisdiction, and what it signals is that you have a big player like this that is really looking for a jurisdiction that has clearly defined the scope of its regulation, and that is what DARE provides,” she told Bahamas’ newspaper The Tribune. Imagine Gary Gensler saying that.

“Having a comprehensive, nimble regulatory framework with oversight is essential to ensuring that the crypto industry is safe, robust, and growing,” Bankman-Fried tweeted on Monday. “We’re excited to be one of the first global crypto exchanges to be part of a comprehensive spot + derivatives regulatory regime.”

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong, by contrast, is increasingly falling in step with mainland China. The Chinese government reiterated today that cryptocurrency trading remains against the law, though it continues to work on a digital yuan.  Last month, Binance was forced to stop allowing Hong Kong users to trade derivatives—which include futures, options, and perpetual contracts—on its platform. It cited a “commitment to compliance.” 

FTX also does the bulk of its exchange volume from crypto derivatives, rather than mere spot trading, making Hong Kong a less-than-desirable location for a base of operations.


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Crypto Exchange FTX Establishes Subsidiaries in Gibraltar and the Bahamas

In brief

  • Crypto exchange FTX has received licenses in Gibraltar and the Bahamas for two of its subsidiaries.
  • The news comes amidst FTT, FTX’s native token, recently hitting an all time high.

FTX exchange has announced the expansion of the crypto exchange via two subsidiaries, one in Gibraltar and the other in the Bahamas. 

Zubr Exchange Limited, owner and operator of ZUBR, a Gibraltar-based digital asset derivatives exchange, has been authorized by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission to become a distributed ledger technology provider. 

FTX Trading Limited, owner and operator of leading global cryptocurrency exchange, announced also today that its subsidiary FTX Digital markets was recognized as a digital assets business under the Securities Commission of the Bahamas. 

“We are committed to maintaining a close working relationship with local regulators so that together we can navigate putting a comprehensive regulatory framework in place to help promote the growth of this nascent asset class,” Bankman-Fried said in a prepared statement. 

The CEO and founder of FTX has made regulations a key focus of his company’s expansion of late. “Every time there’s a scam in crypto,” he told Business Insider, “that’s going to be pushed by regulators to lock down the industry more.” Bankman-Fried has also said that “this doesn’t need to be a war” with regulators earlier this month

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler is one such regulator. Back in August, he joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in saying that the crypto industry needs “rules of the road” and that it must “come within public policy frameworks.” 

Although Gibraltar and the Bahamas are much smaller jurisdictions than the United States, pivoting to these two countries would suggest that FTX is leaning into regulations rather than trying to skirt them. 

FTX’s ongoing expansion

FTX’s announcements come amidst the FTX token (FTT) hitting an all-time high earlier this month. 

On September 7, 2021, FTT rose to a record price of $83. This, in turn, followed the exchange launching its very own NFT platform for US users. 

In July, FTX raised $900 million that Bankman-Fried said would largely go towards future mergers and acquisitions. At the time, the exchange reached a lofty valuation of $18 billion. 

FTX has also made waves in the sports industry, after becoming the naming rights sponsor of Miami Heat’s stadium—the FTX Arena—in May of this year.


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NBA All Star Steph Curry Joins Crypto Exchange FTX as Global Ambassador

In brief

  • Steph Curry is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
  • He’s lending his star power to FTX.

Just this weekend, NBA All Star Steph Curry was asking for advice about how to get started in cryptocurrency.

He must be a quick learner because, as of today, he’ll be giving it.

The Golden State Warriors point guard has signed a deal to be a “global ambassador” for FTX Trading Limited, which runs the FTX global crypto exchange and FTX US exchange. As part of the deal, he’ll receive a stake in the company, and FTX will make annual contributions to the Eat.Learn.Play foundation, run by Curry and his wife.

“I’m excited to partner with a company that demystifies the crypto space and eliminates the intimidation factor for first-time users,” said Curry in a press release, no longer mystified. As an ambassador, he’ll help “expand the reach of the FTX brand and tout the viability of cryptocurrency to new audiences around the world.”

Curry isn’t a complete newbie to cryptocurrency. Late last month, he spent 55 ETH (then worth $180,000) on a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT—digital assets representing illustrated simians. Afterward, fans inundated his Ethereum wallet with other NFTs.

Today’s announcement indicates that Curry was giving the social media version of a pump fake when he wrote last night: “Just getting started in the crypto game…y’all got any advice??” The tweet generated over 18,000 comments, including from Bitcoin maximalist Michael Saylor and crypto minimalist Frances Coppola.

Given FTX’s sports marketing playbook, adding Curry to its roster makes sense. The exchange reached a 19-year, $135 million deal for the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena in May. Additionally, it signed Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady as a brand ambassador in June. That deal also contained a charity element, as the exchange had vowed to donate 1% of net fees to charity; the FTX Foundation says it has given the equivalent of $3.75 million to charity thus far, including $50,000 to Brady’s TB12 Foundation. Another $12.7 million has reportedly been earmarked from user donations and user fees.

“After meeting and speaking with Stephen, it was clear that he is a seamless fit for FTX,” said FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who praised Curry’s charitable endeavors and investing IQ.

FTX’s emphasis on sponsorships and eye-popping deals has helped the derivatives and spot exchange rise in the ranks this year to become one of the largest by volume in the world. Its FTX US platform, however, remains well behind American competitors such as Coinbase and Kraken.

Steph taking the ball, though, may be enough to spur a second-half rally.


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FTX Token Hits All-Time High Amid Crypto Exchange’s NFT Launch

FTT, the native token of crypto exchange FTX, rallied to a new all-time high of $83 on Tuesday following the launch of the platform’s NFT marketplace for U.S. users. FTT is a utility token of sorts, offering holders advantages like discounted trading fees as well as staking opportunities to earn a few extra percent.

Despite dropping to $78.46 by press time, FTT still gained 10.2% in value over the past day, and a breathtaking 69% over the week, according to data from CoinGecko.

The price spike has also seen the token’s market cap increase to $8.44 billion, making it the 26th largest digital asset, and comes amid the launch of FTX’s own marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

NFTs are digital tokens that can be attached to files on the internet as proof of ownership for music, videos, artworks, and even concert tickets.

FTX US launches NFT platform

FTX’s NFT marketplace got off to an odd start first yesterday, however, as the exchange saw a wave of spammy pictures of a fish.

To prevent this, FTX.US even increased the fee for minting new NFT to $500, albeit briefly, consequently reducing the fee to $10.

Prior to that, Sam Bankman-Fried, the company’s founder and CEO, introduced his own “Test” NFT which went for sale on FTX.US for an initial price of $10, ultimately selling for a staggering $270,000.

Bankman-Fried expects that the NFT marketplace on—the exchange’s main platform—will be ready to launch within the next couple of weeks.

Like the NFT marketplace on FTX.US, the marketplace on will be natively cross-chain, supporting both Ethereum and Solana blockchains.

FTX isn’t the only crypto exchange to begin exploring the NFT space this year.

Binance launched an NFT marketplace in June with a “100 Creators” project, while OKEx followed the suit earlier this month by introducing its own version of a platform for minting, buying, and selling NFT assets within the exchange’s ecosystem.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.


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FTX US to Launch Crypto Derivatives After LedgerX Acquisition

FTX’s U.S.-based crypto exchange announced today that it would acquire LedgerX, a crypto derivatives trading platform regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The terms of the deal, which are expected to be completed by October 2021, have not been disclosed, and it will have no impact on LedgerX’s operations as the exchange will continue to provide its current offerings to the existing customer base.

Provided the acquisition is closed, FTX.US will have the ability to offer Bitcoin and Ethereum options and futures contracts for retail and institutional traders, leveraging LedgerX’s relationships with the CTFC.

Many of the financial products offered by FTX, including derivatives, currently are not available to U.S. investors.

“This is probably one of the most exciting announcements we’ve ever had,” Bankman-Fried, the founder and CEO of FTX, commented on the deal.

Crypto derivatives products, such as Bitcoin futures, allow investors to buy or sell assets at a pre-established price without the need to physically hold the underlying asset. They offer investors a way to bet on prices of cryptocurrencies, as well as to hedge against the volatility of the assets.

Other popular crypto derivatives include options and perpetual contracts, which contract that lets investors buy or sell an asset at a predetermined date for a specified price.

In an interview with Decrypt earlier this month, FTX.US president Brett Harrison confirmed that the exchange was working on adding crypto derivatives trading to its platform and considered two avenues to achieve this: either applying for its own license or acquiring another business that already has such a license.

Currently, FTX.US only supports spot trading for selected cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Tether (USDT).

Focus on regulatory compliance

FTX.US stressed that it will be “devoting significant resources towards developing a strong working relationship with the U.S. regulatory community, specifically with the CFTC,” with the ultimate goal of meeting “the rigorous standards of the U.S. financial services industry.”

“Common ground between regulators and industry is the foundation of safe, sustainable innovation,” added Bankman-Fried.

Last week, the CFTC moved to clarify its regulatory role in the U.S., stressing that it only monitors instruments such as futures, swaps, and other derivatives based on commodities. The agency said that, for example, it won’t regulate commodities traded on cash markets, such as natural gas, but it would certainly regulate derivatives based on these commodities.

Within the U.S. market, FTX.US is currently the six-largest crypto exchange offering spot trading. With a 24-hour volume just below $400 million, according to CoinGecko, it’s some way behind such heavyweights as Coinbase and Kraken with $5.9 billion and $1.5 billion respectively.

Binance.US, which is the U.S. affiliate of, is in third place in terms of daily trading volumes with $1.2 billion.

FTX.US, however, will surely be anticipating the increase in overall trading volumes once the exchange is able to open derivatives trades. Currently, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is the only regulated venue in the U.S to offer futures and options on Bitcoin and Ethereum.


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