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Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong criticizes US crypto regulation, SEC behavior in Twitter Space


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Coinbase moved forward with a Twitter Space on crypto regulation previously planned for Friday following the Wells Notice served to it by the SEC this week.

Chris Lehane, SVP of Policy & Communications at Airbnb, kicked off the Twitter space by giving the ‘forward-looking statement’ disclaimer usually reserved for earnings calls and other official communications, giving the Space a sense of gravitas unfamiliar to the format.

The Space started with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong referencing the Wells Notice, initially stating, “we didn’t think this was unexpected, to be honest.” He further framed Coinbase as keen to play by the rules saying, “we’ve always taken a compliance first approach[…] we want there to be a bridge between fiat and crypto.”

However, Armstrong revealed that “the SEC is one where we’ve really struggled over the past few years.” He then recounted that Coinbase had attempted to contact the SEC to discuss the regulatory landscape with no avail until the SEC specifically requested to visit Coinbase last year.

Armstrong disclosed that Coinbase had “30 meetings over the last nine months” with the SEC, which was supposed to culminate in a meeting where feedback would be given.

However, Armstrong alleged that the SEC canceled the meeting the day before it was supposed to happen and subsequently filed a Wells Notice to Coinbase a week later.

The frustration in Armstrong’s voice was evident as he further declared that “we’ve been asking for them to file official rules” and that Coinbase had attempted to acquire licenses preemptively to ensure compliance, but those licenses remain dormant.

Additionally, concerning the SEC’s recent change in approach to staking, Armstrong commented that the word staking was referenced over 50 times in the Coinbase S1 document meaning “the SEC allowed us to become a public company knowing all these details.”

In a bold statement, Armstrong then suggested that the U.S. is the furthest behind in terms of regulation for crypto and that while other countries are promoting crypto businesses, the U.S. is falling behind.

Paul Grewal, the Chief Legal Office for Coinbase, continued the conversation by expressing that his role in dealing with the SEC has been challenging given that “we’ve simply been told nothing.”

The Space was arranged to address the Wells Notice while also explaining that Coinbase has repeatedly attempted to engage with regulators without success. As a result, the speakers plugged Crypto435, Coinbase’s push for better representation of crypto-friendly politicians across the United States.

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