Fintech promises to decentralize and democratize financial markets, but consumer protection and regulation are still needed.

Last month, Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms, distributed shares of common stock in a highly anticipated public offering. Instead of engaging a storied investment bank to launch an initial public offering (IPO) through a well-developed network of institutional investors—such as pension funds, mutual funds, endowments, and exceptionally wealthy individual investors—Coinbase sold its shares directly to the investing public.

Coinbase’s direct offering and its luminary role in the cryptocurrency sector illustrate a mounting movement toward disintermediation. This movement aims to minimize or eliminate the role of legacy financial intermediaries such as investment banks that underwrite IPOs or broker-dealers that facilitate secondary market trading. As I explore in a…

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