Coinbase CEO Compares SEC to Soccer Refs in Criticism of Lack of Clarity Around Crypto Regulation

Zach Anderson  Mar 24, 2023 17:26  UTC 09:26

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In a recent development, Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency exchange, has been issued a Wells notice by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which typically precedes an enforcement action. The news prompted Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, to criticize the SEC for its lack of clarity around crypto regulation. In a series of tweets, Armstrong compared the SEC to “soccer refs” in a game of pickleball, arguing that they could not agree on the rules of the “new game” of crypto regulation.

Armstrong’s criticism comes as the crypto industry faces ongoing debates around who should be the primary body regulating crypto, with the SEC being just one of many potential regulators. There has been concern among crypto companies that regulators lack a clear understanding of the industry and that their regulatory efforts may stifle innovation and drive activity offshore.

The reference to a “call they made back in April 2021” refers to the SEC’s approval of Coinbase’s application to go public. Armstrong argued that the company’s filings “clearly explained” its asset listing process and “included 57 references to staking.” However, the recent Wells notice suggests that the SEC has reversed its earlier position and is now seeking to take enforcement action against Coinbase.

Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, also criticized the SEC’s lack of clarity around crypto regulation, claiming that the agency had provided “no clear rule book” and that “efforts to engage with the SEC are met with silence or enforcement actions.” Both Armstrong and Grewal appear to welcome the chance to use the “legal process” to provide the crypto industry with regulatory clarity and to defend Coinbase against the SEC’s enforcement action.

The news of the Wells notice has been widely condemned by the crypto community, with many agreeing that the SEC has reversed its earlier position regarding Coinbase. The community also seems to be throwing their support behind Coinbase, believing that the company will be fighting on behalf of the entire U.S. crypto industry as an unclear regulatory environment drives activity offshore.

In conclusion, the recent Wells notice issued to Coinbase by the SEC has sparked a debate around the lack of clarity and understanding among regulators when it comes to crypto regulation. Coinbase’s CEO and chief legal officer have criticized the SEC’s lack of clarity and seem to be welcoming the chance to use the legal process to provide the industry with regulatory clarity. The crypto community has widely condemned the notice, with many agreeing that the SEC has reversed its earlier position regarding Coinbase.

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