Coinbase Acquires Futures Exchange FairX
Coinbase Acquires Futures Exchange FairX

On January 12th, 2022, Coinbase announced the acquisition of FairX, a
Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) registered Designated
Contract Market (DCM) offering futures. Architect Partners served as the
financial advisor for FairX.

FairX operates a regulated futures exchange for retail investors. The
company offers 1) straightforward and retail user-friendly products 2)
discounted fees compared to a traditional futures exchange, 3) retailfocused products requiring less capital, and 4) committed market makers
enabling strong liquidity. FairX launched in June 2021 and currently offers
futures on two index products in two sizes: the Bloomberg US Large Cap
Index Futures and SuperTech Index Futures, as well as Micro Crude Oil
Since launch, FairX had an average daily volume across its products of about
9,000 contracts. Based in Chicago, FairX was founded in 2019 by Neal Brady,
CEO and co-founder of ErisX, acquired by CBOE (M&A Alert) last year,
Harsha Bhat, CTO and previous SVP/CTO of State Street’s GlobalLink trading
platforms, and Chairman Clifford Lewis. FairX raised over $27 million in three
funding rounds. Notable investors include Hyde Park Venture Partners, TD
Ameritrade, XTX Ventures, Battery Ventures, Limerick Hill, and Virtu

We are seeing a trend of crypto-native firms acquiring regulated entities to
expand their offerings of sophisticated financial products. Both retail and
institutional clients demand regulatorily compliant solutions, but current
regulation is often disjointed as crypto can be an awkward fit for existing
regulatory structures. There has been much discussion regarding a
straightforward set of rules for crypto, most likely tweaks to existing
frameworks. Buying regulated entities therefore provides regulatory
“insurance” for crypto firms while future regulations are being
implemented. Coinbase has done this in the past, via purchases of three
SEC-licensed firms. FTX’s October 2021 acquisition of LedgerX is another
example, absorbing LedgerX’s 3 CFTC licenses of DCM, Swap Execution
Facility, and Derivatives Clearing Organization. We expect this approach to
accelerate in the next twelve months as crypto-native firms continue to
integrate with traditional financial services.

There are several drivers for this acquisition. First, FairX provides Coinbase
with a crypto derivatives regulatory framework for both retail and
institutional investors in the US. FairX is a CFTC registered DCM, and will be
Coinbase’s first entity fully regulated by CFTC (Coinbase applied for an
Futures Commission Merchant license in September of 2021, but has not yet
been approved). Second, it allows simplified access to futures to their
sizable retail client base. Lastly, it furthers Coinbase’s institutional product
line. Institutions need to hedge positions and hedging Bitcoin or Ethereum
is done under the commodity framework in the US.


Week of September 25 – October 1

J. Todd White
October 4, 2023

17 Crypto Private Financings Raised ~$92M

17 Crypto Private Financings Raised ~$92M


Rolling 3-Month-Average: $145M


Rolling 52-Week Average: $188M

Private financings continue their subdued pace, with both deal count and capital raised trending down this week from already muted volumes. Seven of our top 10 transactions were infrastructure deals, with half in early-stage investing and trading, showing continued investor appetite to build the plumbing during an extended sector down-cycle.


Selected Highlights 


SupraOracle announced a total of $24M in private investments completed, including support from some of the largest digital asset investors such as Animoca Brands, Coinbase Ventures and Valor Equity Partners. Supra is a developer of low-latency infrastructure for cross-chain interoperability and security to enable migration of Web2 to Web3 with powerful oracles, cross-chain communication protocols and consensus mechanisms


Why Notable?   Supra is building the critical interoperability infrastructure that is essential for the adoption and scaling of Web 3 initiatives. The large number of high-profile strategic investors providing private financing, co-developing white papers and collaborative R&D suggest that Supra’s “academic approach” to cross-chain oracles and bridgeless communication is resonating with key market players.


Rated Labs secured a $12.9M Series A round led by crypto venture investor Archetype, who also took a board seat. The UK-based oracle and dataset provider, which currently offers Ethereum-based node and node-operator ratings, data pipelines and comprehensive datasets, will use the new funds to extend into Layer 2 networks and additional blockchains including Polygon, Cosmos and Solana.


Why Notable? As we have seen in several infrastructure deals, simplifying access to Web3 continues to attract capital. This round is also notable for the sizeable participation from previous investors such as Placeholder, Cherry and Semantic who are showing continued financial support.


AnchorWatch secured $3M in funding led by Ten31 in order to meet the regulatory and capital requirements necessary to bring to market a regulated insurance product embedded in its secure custody vault, Trident Vault. The solution is an example of combined technical and financial infrastructure to meet the needs of commercial institutions as well as financial advisors with clients seeking secure and insured custody for Bitcoin.


Why Notable? We view appropriately scoped insurance solutions to be essential financial infrastructure for the Web3 and digital assets space in general.  While not yet offering products in the market, AnchorWatch was formed to specifically fill a void identified by the founders, in this case commercial coverage for cold-storage Bitcoin. Investor support for their approach – combining secure technology with credentialed insurance – is encouraging as the broad insurance needs of the sector continue to be underserved.



Infrastructure continues to dominate the private financing landscape, with cross-chain interoperability being a recurring theme. And we expect the often overlooked financial infrastructure – notably the underserved insurance and risk management needs of the sector – to attract increased investor interest as digital markets mature.