In brief

  • Brian Brooks came to Binance US from Washington.
  • He says the company plans to expand very soon.
  • He also believes the exchange will continue to diversify.

Binance US’s new CEO, Brian Brooks, sat down with Decrypt’s Jeff Roberts at this year’s virtual Ethereal Summit to outline the company’s explosive plans for expansion over the coming year. 

Brooks said he plans to double the headcount in the next six months by hiring another 75 to 100  people, then increase it to 5x its current headcount in the next 18 months. 

“I think it's pretty clear that Binance is the fastest growing exchange in the United States,” he said. 

Brooks himself is part of that growth. On April 20, he took over from Catherine Coley to become the CEO of Binance US. 

He brought a wealth of experience with him—Brooks helmed the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) under former president Donald Trump, and spent a year and a half as Coinbase’s Chief Legal Officer. 

Brooks could have had his pick of any job in the crypto industry. So, why Binance US, the independent, American-only version of Binance that trades a fraction of the volume of his former employer, Coinbase?

Brooks was quick to answer: “The thing that I love doingI think maybe people saw it at the OCCis moving really fast in a fast-execution environment. I envision a very rapid growth rate here. And there's nothing more fun for me than that.”

During his time in Washington, Brooks was already theorizing how national banks could interact with crypto. During his tenure, the OCC published guidance on how banks can custody stablecoins, and how crypto companies can become banks themselves.

Roberts asked whether Binance US’s decision to recruit Brooks is part of a broader plan to grease the wheels with Washington.

Brooks answered frankly. “I wouldn't say it's necessarily just to fix things in Washington,” he said. But crypto needs friends in Washington to thrive, and Brooks has friends aplenty from his time in DC. 

“I think there were a handful of us in the administration who did have a thesis for this. So yes, I think I can help on that front,” he said.

End of the line

Roberts then asked Brooks about the future role of crypto exchanges, and whether the market will continue to close in on a few dominant exchanges, like Coinbase and Binance. 

Brooks believes exchanges are “just an on-ramp into the world of crypto” and says that once people are into crypto they shouldn’t need exchanges anymore. 

He predicts that stablecoins will be the future payment mechanism, so “you no longer have to go back and forth between your bank account and your crypto wallet.”

For Brooks, the role of Binance US goes beyond being just an exchange: “We [Binance US] have in our DNA not only being a fiat exchange; we also have in our DNA things like derivatives and futures, and soon an NFT platform and other things.”

“You’ll think of us more like a diversified platform company where we're building tokens and tokenizing real assets, like real estate and equities, engaged in payments through our proprietary stable coin.”

“At the end of the day, there may be zero exchanges, and the question is, ‘who wins as the platform?’ I think that'll be us.”