Ex-regulators join advisory board of cryptocurrency startup Omniex

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chair Sheila Bair have joined the board of advisors of cryptocurrency trading platform Omniex, the company said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), takes part in the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in New York June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Omniex also said it had hired Maartje Bus, former head of capital markets at Thomson Reuters Corp TRI.TO, as director of strategic partnerships, and Tom Eidt, former head of KCG's regulatory affairs, as chief compliance officer and general counsel.

More former watchdogs and financial services executives have been joining the cryptocurrency ranks, as the nascent sector looks to mature and cope with more regulatory scrutiny.

“We’re in the nascent stages of a revolutionary, global asset class, but we’re also on the cusp of regulatory thinking on how to approach and regulate crypto assets,” Bair said in a statement.

Bair served as chair of the U.S. banking regulator from 2006 to 2011 and played an important role in the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2008.

Omniex, which has offices in San Francisco and Santa Monica, California, is developing technology and services to make it easier for financial institutions to trade cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

While interest in cryptocurrencies has grown, the sector still lacks the same level market infrastructure available to investors in other asset classes.

“Institutional investors need purpose-built technology to solve the challenges they face today and equipped to handle the hidden obstacles they’ll encounter tomorrow in this new asset class,” Levitt said in a statement.

Levitt, who became the SEC’s longest-serving chairman after holding the role from 1993 to 2001, is currently an advisor to several financial technology companies including student lender Social Finance Inc, payments company BitPay and crypto-wallet provider Blockchain.

Omniex has raised $10 million in seed funding over the past 10 months from firms including Jump Capital, Digital Currency group and Wicklow Capital, as well as from Alan Howard, founder of hedge fund Brevan Howard.

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Phil Berlowitz