Fed Chair Powell met with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong in Might


Coinbase Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong will attend Consensus 2019 at the Hilton Midtown in New York City on May 15, 2019.

Steven Ferdman | Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell met with Brian Armstrong, CEO of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, in May, the central bank’s records show.

The meeting took place on May 11th and was one of only two meetings the Fed chief had with CEOs during the month. The only other one that month was with Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States by assets.

The Fed declined to comment beyond Powell’s schedule.

Powell’s meeting with Armstrong comes amid heightened scrutiny of cryptocurrency trading as digital coin prices have skyrocketed. Explosive gains in products like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin have been linked to inflation fears, which in turn were linked to the Fed’s loose monetary policy.

The Fed is also in the middle of researching its own central bank digital currency, with a paper due out this summer on the potential impact. However, several prominent central bank officials have raised doubts in the past few days about the need for a CBDC.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was also listed as a participant in the meeting with Powell and Armstrong.

Armstrong met with several Washington political leaders around the same time. On May 14, he tweeted a picture of himself with Ryan and another with current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A 21-part thread Armstrong sent on the visits made no mention of meeting Powell.

“The politicians and agency executives I met were all thoughtful and engaging, and I was glad our teams were connected and new friendships were made,” Armstrong said in one of the tweets.

Similar to the other meetings, the Fed’s move to adopt a digital currency is expected to be a topic at the Amrstrong-Powell meeting.

Coinbase is the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange with 56 million verified users and $ 223 billion in assets across the platform. In April, it became the first crypto exchange to go public, listing its shares directly on the Nasdaq. Coinbase shares were trading at $ 241 on Friday.

According to Canaccord Genuity, the company’s revenue is mainly driven by trading fees, 81% of which come from retail and 5% from institutional trading. It has the highest trading fees on crypto exchanges.

– Tanaya Macheel contributed to this report.

Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro.
Get stock picking, analyst meetings, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV.
Sign up to start a free trial today.