The SEC, the supposed "watchdog" of the financial markets, is unfairly cracking down on Coinbase, one of the most reputable and compliant crypto platforms out there while turning a blind eye to the shady and scammy practices of Celsius and FTX, two platforms that have caused massive losses and pain for their users.
Coinbase is being unfairly targeted for offering a legitimate and innovative product that benefits its users, while Celsius and FTX are being practically ignored for offering unrealistic and deceptive products that harmed their users.
How does any of this make any sense? It doesn't!
Let's compare some quick notes, shall we?
Some Background Info
The SEC’s actions are hurting the crypto industry and the U.S. economy as a whole, by stifling innovation, competition, and consumer choice, while allowing fraudsters and criminals to operate with impunity.
Coinbase is one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Founded in 2012, Coinbase has over 73 million verified users and over $223 billion in assets on its platform.
Coinbase offers a variety of products and services for crypto investors, such as trading, custody, staking, lending, and earning.
It is also one of the most compliant and transparent crypto platforms in the U.S., as it is registered with the SEC and other regulators, and follows strict KYC and AML rules. Coinbase went public in April 2022 through a direct listing on Nasdaq, becoming the first major crypto company to do so.
Celsius is a crypto lending platform that allows users to earn interest on their crypto assets or borrow against them.
Founded in 2017, Celsius claimed to have over 1.2 million users and over $24 billion in assets under management.
This company offered high-interest rates for its users, ranging from 4% to 18% annually, depending on the type and amount of crypto deposited.
Celsius also has its own native token, CEL, which gives users access to higher rates and other benefits. However, Celsius was not registered with any regulators in the U.S., and didn't fully comply with any KYC or AML rules.
Celsius has been under investigation by several state regulators since July 2022 for offering unregistered securities and operating without a license, and since was forced to file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
FTX was a crypto derivatives exchange that allowed its users to trade futures, options, leveraged tokens, and other products.
Founded in 2019 by Scam Bankman-Fried (SBF), FTX claimed to have over 1 million users and over $10 billion in daily trading volume.
FTX also has its own native token, FTT, which gives users discounts on fees and other benefits. However, FTX was not regulated in the U.S.,
FTX had a separate platform for U.S. customers called FTX US, which offered fewer products and services. That platform has been accused of engaging in market manipulation, fraud, and insider trading by several lawsuits and investigations.
It collapsed in November 2022 due to a series of hacks, liquidity issues, and lawsuits, leaving its users with nothing. In short, it was a poorly run company, that used customer funds to manipulate the crypto market.
Unfair SEC Clampdown
One of the main reasons why the SEC is being unfair to Coinbase is its treatment of the Lend product. Lend is a feature that Coinbase planned to launch in the coming weeks, which would allow users to earn interest on their crypto assets by lending them to verified borrowers.
Coinbase promised that Lend would offer a 4% annual percentage yield (APY) for users who deposit USDC, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar. Coinbase also said that Lend would be safe and secure, as it would only lend to borrowers who have sufficient collateral and are subject to strict underwriting standards.
If you ask me, this program sounded like a threat to the big banks.
That's a possible reason why the SEC did not share Coinbase’s enthusiasm for Lend. In fact, the SEC threatened to sue Coinbase if it launched Lend, claiming that it would be an unregistered security offering. The SEC also issued a Wells Notice to Coinbase, a formal warning that the agency intends to bring enforcement action against the company.
The SEC did not explain why it considers Lend a security, or what rules or regulations Coinbase should follow to make Lend compliant.
The SEC also asked Coinbase for the names and contact information of everyone who signed up for the Lend waitlist, which Coinbase rightfully refused to provide.
CEO Brian Armstrong was baffled and frustrated by the SEC’s actions, as it had tried to engage with the regulator for months before announcing Lend. Coinbase said that it had proactively reached out to the SEC multiple times to seek guidance and feedback on Lend, but received no response.
Coinbase also said that it had shared detailed information about Lend with the SEC, including its terms of service and FAQs. It also argued that Lend is not a security, but a legitimate and innovative way for users to earn interest on their crypto assets, similar to other products offered by banks and fintech companies.
Coinbase decided to cancel Lend in September 2022, after realizing that the SEC was not going to provide any clarity or cooperation on the matter. It also filed a lawsuit against the SEC in April 2023, demanding a clear answer to its petition for crypto regulation.
The company said that it still wants to offer Lend and other products that benefit its users, but it needs regulatory clarity from the SEC first. it accused the SEC of being unfair and unclear in its regulation of crypto securities, and of harming the crypto industry and innovation in the U.S.
By threatening to sue over Lend and other products, the SEC is stifling innovation, competition, and consumer choice in the crypto space.
Coinbase is one of the most reputable and compliant crypto platforms in the U.S., and it offers a variety of products and services that benefit its users and the crypto ecosystem. By discouraging it from launching Lend and other products, the SEC is depriving users of legitimate and innovative ways to earn interest on their crypto assets, while they allowed unregulated and shady platforms like Celsius and FTX to offer unrealistic and deceptive products that harmed their users.
Moreover, by regulating crypto securities through enforcement actions instead of rulemaking, the SEC is creating uncertainty and confusion for the crypto industry.
The SEC has not provided clear guidance or rules on what constitutes a security in the crypto space, or what rules or regulations crypto platforms should follow to be compliant.
The SEC has also been inconsistent and selective in its enforcement actions, targeting some platforms but not others, and applying different standards to different products.
This creates an uneven playing field for crypto platforms and discourages new entrants and innovation in the market.
Furthermore, by being hostile and unclear in its regulation of crypto securities, the SEC is hurting the U.S. economy as a whole.
The crypto industry is a fast-growing and dynamic sector that offers tremendous opportunities for economic growth, job creation, financial inclusion, and social impact.
The U.S. has the potential to be a global leader in the crypto space, but it risks losing its competitive edge to other countries that have more supportive and clear regulatory frameworks for crypto.
For example, the EU and the U.K. have adopted comprehensive regulations for crypto assets that provide legal certainty and consumer protection, while fostering innovation and competition.
The U.S. should follow their example and adopt a balanced and forward-looking approach to crypto regulation, instead of being unfair and unclear to Coinbase and other compliant crypto platforms.
It's only a matter of time until more crypto companies pack up shop and move to friendlier pastures.
It's obvious there are ulterior motives behind Gary Ginsler's crypto crackdown by the SEC. Usually, one only needs to follow the money trail to find out who the real puppet masters are.