Michelle Bond knows some of the most complicated legal reforms inside and out, sideways and top-down. And now she’s bringing her expertise to Silicon Valley to help the tech industry repair its relationship with Washington.
Bond joined Ripple Labs, the blockchain-based financial services startup behind the XRP cryptocurrency, in June to lead the company’s government relations team. Although she’s based in Washington, DC, she hopes to bring some of Silicon Valley’s innovative spirit to the Beltway.
As a former attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bond helped with interpretation and implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, one of the signature reforms following the 2008 financial crisis. She said she’s seen the law from every angle — as a private practice lawyer focusing on monetary policy, to working on the Senate Banking Committee as part of the SEC, and now back in the private markets.
“The fintech space is on the cutting edge of the policy world, so this is the most exciting time for anyone involved in policy and implementation,” Bond told Business Insider. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Bond said that Ripple Labs doesn’t see itself as a cryptocurrency company, even though it created a protocol for an eponymous cryptocurrency that trades under the abbreviation XRP. That token is among the highest-valued aside from Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The company operates a blockchain-based ledger in partnership with a who’s who of legacy financial institutions for large financial transactions in both cryptocurrency and fiat currency. Simply put, it’s trying to put a more respectable face on the cryptocurrency industry, which is often otherwise likened to the Wild West.
“As we look at the crypto market broadly, I can see why people want regulatory clarity before their institutions adopt crypto,” Bond said.
Bond joins Ripple at an inflection point in Silicon Valley’s relationship with policymakers in Washington. Calls for regulation have reached a fever pitch, with execs and CEOs like Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins beginning to push for regulation. Bond thinks that sensible regulation is possible if the tech superpowers and the power brokers of Washington are able to set differences aside for the sake of innovation.
“Risk can be good and bad, and, look, regulation can be a risk,” Bond said. “It’s my job to make sure we effectively work on that together.”
The SEC, for its part, has made an attempt to understand and effectively regulate emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, Bond says. She also hopes, though, that her regulatory background will help add some credibility to a space that some regulators are still struggling to understand.
“We are in the toddler years of the [fintech] industry,” Bond said. “These companies are starting to walk and talk, but we aren’t potty trained yet. The market is immature, and so regulators are playing an important role to make sure no one is getting hurt. At the same time, people will get hurt if innovation doesn’t happen.”