SEC asked Coinbase (COIN) to halt all non-Bitcoin crypto trading, CEO tells FT

The SEC is suing Coinbase already, but the CEO says the regulator asked the company to cease trading on over 200 crypto tokens.


New details have emerged of the weeks leading up to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suing Coinbase. The company's CEO Brian Armstrong says the regulator asked Coinbase to cease trading on all non-Bitcoin cryptocurrency tokens. 

Chart of Coinbase stock's wild ride as a publicly-traded company.
Coinbase stock is down over 77% from its all-time high in 2021.
Source: TC2000

In an exclusive interview with the FT, Armstrong said, "They came back to us, and they said . . . we believe every asset other than Bitcoin is a security,” Armstrong continued to the Financial Times. “And, we said, well how are you coming to that conclusion, because that’s not our interpretation of the law. And they said, we’re not going to explain it to you, you need to delist every asset other than Bitcoin.” 

Putting aside the merits of cryptocurrency, the ramifications of Armstrong agreeing to the SEC's request would be felt across all sorts of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency marketplaces are certainly at an inflection point with the SEC able to pick winners. Multiple regulators are attempting to make the claim that many cryptocurrency assets are securities or somehow fall under their jurisdiction.

It's quite amusing to see regulators ask proponents of decentralized finance to stick to only one token as it does seem counterintuitive to whatever the point of this wealth creation and destruction in the rolling crypto bubbles is.

The SEC told the FT that the regulator made no formal request for “companies to delist crypto assets. In the course of an investigation, the staff may share its own view as to what conduct may raise questions for the commission under the securities laws.” Is Coinbase (COIN) CEO Brian Armstrong misremembering a conversation with the regulator? We'll have plenty of lawsuits to pay attention to as the SEC and Coinbase have sued each other.

Most crypto marketplaces were not designed with the assumption that they were to be treated as securities, so it will be interesting to keep up with the legal action between US regulators and companies like FTX, Binance, and Coinbase.


Asif Khan is the CEO, EIC, and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      July 30, 2023 10:24 PM

      ??? guess we're shutting it all down?

    • reply
      July 30, 2023 10:31 PM


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        July 31, 2023 5:14 AM

        Sort of. Ripple is and isn't a security. When sold to institutional investors it IS a security, when sold to retail investors it is NOT a security.

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      July 30, 2023 11:52 PM

      So everything except Bitcoin is a security? Why? Because people don't expect profit from Bitcoin any more or something?

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        July 31, 2023 1:39 AM

        no it's the digital finance/borrowing/lending features (generally referred to as distributed finance "DeFi") that keeps coming up with new ways to "loan money" that's getting hit with the security categorization. Since there are so many (basically any Ethereum derived system can become a loan/financing/stock system) I think they just use a wildcard to cover everything.

        Note that this is specifically part of Eth's basic design, to become a distributed system where small contracts can run on their blockchain - so I actually think the sec is right, they should label all of the defi world as security, and require brokerage licenses and a basic understanding (ie anyone wanting to be a part of crypto *needs* to take a test and get a license - in basic ethics, basic computer and data security, etc - and be able to have their license revoked if they do illegal things)

        Being labled a security is not a bad thing for the ecosystem.

        It's like saying people should be able to drive electric cars without a license because getting licensed takes too much effort.

        bitcoin is excluded because it's strictly a "stupid" protocol. (you can't really build any additional ways to scam people on top of bitcoin aside from telling people it's going to go to the moon)

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          July 31, 2023 1:43 AM

          remember how there used to be these fundraising drives about "getting into a new coin"? You buy in at the top of the pyramid scheme and try to push your coin as much as possible so people will buy in and give you money so your holdings increase?

          those are all etherum based ERC20 coins - which in all aspects, are basically self sponsored securities

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          July 31, 2023 2:27 AM

          That isn’t true with Bitcoin anymore because of Taproot. You can create ordinals which basically changes the game over there so it isn’t so “dumb” anymore.

          I don’t really disagree with you in some ways regarding how a smart contract can be used to create securities. However I fail to see how the SEC would be able to regulate it.

          In practice it would effectively mean they would barely be used in US since everywhere else in the world doesn’t agree it is a security.

          It is just too decentralized still so the regulation is effectively only possible on centralized exchanges (which is why they are going after Coinbase).

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            July 31, 2023 3:28 AM

            It’s even more dumb now

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            July 31, 2023 8:10 AM

            I'd imagine the only countries that are fans of crypto are the ones robbing their people blind.

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          July 31, 2023 7:12 AM

          Isn't DeFi "decentralized finance"? (Means the same thing I know)

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      July 31, 2023 8:17 AM

      The stablecoins must not fall. They are holding up the whole thing (they have the term stable in them)

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