The crypto exchange FTX declared bankruptcy almost exactly a year ago, and Sam Bankman-Fried, its cofounder and former CEO, has been convicted of seven counts of fraud in one of the most high-profile white-collar crime trials in recent memory.
However, this legacy of failure and fraud hasn’t discouraged deep-pocketed investors from making a play to revive Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange. The FTX estate, led by John J. Ray III, reached out to more than 75 bidders interested in rebooting the company, and now there are three finalists, according to reports from CoinDesk and the Wall Street Journal: Bullish, a crypto exchange led by former New York Stock Exchange president Tom Farley; Figure Technologies, a fintech startup; and Proof Group, a private investment firm.
The estate could pick a winner as early as December. Representatives for the FTX estate, a spokesperson for Figure, a spokesperson for Bullish, and Noah Jessop, managing director of Proof Group, declined to comment on the record.
The winnowing of the field of bidders for what remains of FTX’s exchanges comes amid a marked upswing in the crypto market. Bitcoin has jumped from just below $17,000 in January to now around $35,000, and exchanges—like Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken—are seeing increasing trading volumes.
Combined trading volumes on all centralized exchanges, a category that includes FTX when it was still operational, are up 53% from September to $2.57 trillion in October, according to data from crypto analytics firm CCData. This figure includes data on both crypto derivatives, or the buying and selling of complex, crypto-based financial products, and spot trading, or the simple purchase and sale cryptocurrencies.
Spot trading volumes, especially, are way up, jumping to $632 billion in October, an 87% increase from the month prior. This is the largest month-over-month increase for spot trading volumes on centralized exchanges since January 2021, per CCData. The next three months in 2021 saw Bitcoin’s price rocket from around $30,000 near the end of January to above $63,000 in April, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
As the industry rallies around the potential approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF, crypto advocates and onlookers are hoping for a similar push in the coming months, especially after a disastrous Crypto Winter that has seen company after company collapse. And if interest in reviving FTX is any indication, the bidders are likely hoping to get a slice of that next crypto market surge.