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Sam Bankman-Fried says he’s a ‘scaled down’ J.P. Morgan of the crypto industry

J.P. Morgan is famous for his organization of bank bailouts in the wake of the 1907 financial panic — a display of financial might that led lawmakers to create the Federal Reserve a few years later.

Today FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried acknowledges there are parallels between Morgan’s example and his own purchases of distressed firms during the recent crypto crash.

Bankman-Fried said he has played a ‘scaled down’ crypto version of the role J.P. Morgan did more than a century ago when asked about the comparison during an interview at the Institute of International Finance annual meeting Thursday.

The 30-year-old billionaire and his companies have offered lines of credit or equity to many struggling firms, like BlockFi and Voyager, in the past year during which the price of digital assets like bitcoin
and ether
have declined more than 60%.

Bankman-Fried said that many of these deals were not made with the primary purpose of profit.

“Goal one is preventing contagion…there’s no Fed so to speak for crypto,” he said. “The sort of mandate I gave…was, look, don’t lose a lot of money, but don’t try to make money.”

Bankman-Fried also spoke on the subject of financial regulation, telling the IIF audience that he visits Washington, D.C., usually more than once per month to meet with lawmakers and regulators.

He added that he has been pleasantly surprised at the progress the industry has made in promoting legislation that could bolster the industry before the next Congress convenes in 2023.

A bipartisan bill in the House is gaining steam that would codify regulations for stablecoins, while other bipartisan legislation has been introduced that would set up a regulatory framework for digital assets more broadly.

“I’ve been kind of shocked over the last year how interested and how much engagement there’s been from regulators,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re going from 0 to 60, but we’re going from 0 to 23 and it’s still pretty fast for this amount of time.”

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