Huobi Trust, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Huobi Technology Holdings, has appointed Robert Whitaker as its chief operating officer (COO).
Whitaker joined Huobi Trust as the company’s first COO last month, following a four-year stint at blockchain analytics firm BIGG Digital Assets. He previously worked for more than a decade at the US Department of Homeland Security, where he most recently oversaw the crypto investigation program.
When asked why he left the government role to enter the crypto industry in 2017, Whitaker told us that he “didn’t want to get locked into a routine and stay in one environment” because he “didn’t want to get locked into a routine and stay in one environment.”
“Because the crypto industry is changing at such a rapid pace, I saw retiring from the government to go private as a way to gain a new perspective on the space and continue to grow as a professional,” he explained. “2017 was really when cryptocurrency began to gain mainstream attention, so the timing was perfect.”
Whitaker first became acquainted with cryptocurrency in early 2015, when he was transferred to Homeland Security’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and landed in the finance division, which was launching a new crypto-focused program at the time called the Illicit Digital Economy Program. As a supervisor, he was tasked with learning about cryptocurrency and training other agents and agencies on the subject, according to Whitaker.
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Whitaker’s role at Huobi Trust is to oversee the expansion and development of the company’s vision and strategy, as well as current and future product offerings, he said.
As a Nevada state-chartered retail trust company, Huobi Trust currently provides fiat custody and a variety of compliance services for blockchain companies, according to Whitaker. The company also serves as the primary custodian for the assets that underpin Huobi Global’s HUSD stablecoin. “In the future, Huobi Trust sees opportunities for deploying a wide range of additional trust, custodial, and compliance products based on distributed ledger solutions, all of which are subject to regulatory approval,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker believes that cryptocurrency has the potential to revolutionize the way people and businesses transact on a global scale. He claims that regulators have a misconception that cryptocurrency is primarily used to finance illegal activities.
“Part of the reason for this is that many people, particularly at the state and local levels, still don’t fully understand crypto and the technology behind it,” he explained. “However, as regulation progresses and more consumer protections are implemented, we will see a shift in the overall perception of cryptocurrency.”
According to Whitaker, the pseudo-anonymous nature of crypto and blockchain data analytics helps track crypto transactions that would not be possible with fiat transactions. “There’s a lot more transparency in crypto than most people realize,” he says.
Huobi Trust is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has over 20 employees, according to Whitaker, who added that the company is looking to expand its team across various functions, including compliance and operations.
Despite the fact that Huobi Trust’s parent company, Huobi Tech, shares the same brand and shareholders as Huobi Group, the owner of the Huobi Global crypto exchange, the two are separate legal entities that operate independently of one another, according to Huobi Trust.