Coinbase could move out of the US market if no regulatory clarity emerges, CEO Brian Armstrong says
“I think if a number of years go by where we don’t see regulatory clarity around us … we may have to consider investing more elsewhere in the world. Anything including, you know, relocating.”
The legal tussle between crypto exchange Coinbase and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been going on for at least a year. Now Coinbase founder and CEO Brian Armstrong said he’s not ruling out leaving the entire US market altogether if no regulatory clarity emerges from the US regulators.
In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Armstrong said the company is preparing for a years-long court battle with the SEC after the regulator warned the crypto exchange of potential violations of securities law.
Coinbase was issued a Wells notice by the SEC in March, which is typically one of the last stages before the regulator formally presses charges. The notice usually outlines the basis of the regulatory case and gives the accused party a chance to challenge the SEC’s allegations.
But Armstrong called the issuing of the Wells notice “unfortunate” and said Coinbase has not got any more information on the specific issues the SEC has.
“We’ve met with them over 30 times in the last year … never got a single piece of feedback from them about what we can be doing better or differently, and then this Wells Notice arrived,” Armstrong told CNBC in an interview.
“I think we’re going to have to actually end up going to court to get the clarity we need and create the case law.”
When asked by if Coinbase is prepared for a years-long battle with the SEC, Armstrong told CNBC, “Absolutely.”
“We never seek litigation but it seems, in this case, they have initiated it and if we need to go to the courts to get the clarity that we need then we are very prepared to do that,” Armstrong added.
In a separate interview with former U.K. Chancellor George Osbourne, Armstrong said, “Anything is on the table, including relocating or whatever is necessary” after he asked whether he could see Coinbase leaving the U.S. at Fintech Week in London.
He indicated that Coinbase would consider moving away from the U.S. if the regulatory environment for the industry does not become clearer.
“I think the U.S. has the potential to be an important market for crypto, but right now we are not seeing that regulatory clarity that we need,” he said. “I think in a number of years if we don’t see that regulatory clarity emerge in the U.S. we may have to consider investing more elsewhere in the world.”
Cooinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. The San Francisco, California-based Coinbase is a digital currency wallet and platform where merchants and consumers can transact with new digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.