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Coinbase is considering setting up a digital asset exchange outside the United States amid increasing regulatory pressure and a souring banking climate for crypto firms.
The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. has contacted its institutional clients about plans to establish a new crypto trading platform offshores, Bloomberg reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.
The report added that during talks with market makers and investment firms, the crypto exchange suggested setting up an alternative venue, away from the main Coinbase marketplace, for global clients. Coinbase has not yet decided where the new platform might be based.
Without confirming the plans, a Coinbase spokesperson said the exchange assesses geographic options and meets “with government officials in high-bar regulatory jurisdictions” as part of its mission to push for global crypto adoption.
Regulatory Hostility in the US Grows Amid Banking Crisis
The potential expansion by Coinbase comes in the wake of heightened regulatory scrutiny in the US. Specifically, the SEC has ramped up efforts to mitigate the risks that cryptocurrencies pose to the broader financial system by cracking down on crypto companies.
Back in February, the SEC reached an agreement with crypto exchange Kraken to stop offering staking services or programs to clients in the country and pay $30 million to settle allegations that failed “to register the offer and sale of their cryptoasset staking-as-a-service program,” which the commission qualified as securities.
Furthermore, the agency has threatened Paxos, a US-registered firm that issues Binance’s stablecoin Binance USD (BUSD), with legal action due to its issuance of BUSD tokens. The agency argued that BUSD is considered an unregistered security.
The SEC has also objected to the proposed $1 billion transaction by Binance.US to acquire the assets of Voyager Digital, a collapsed cryptocurrency brokerage.
The environment for crypto firms in the US has further deteriorated with the shuttering of major crypto-friendly banks, including Silvergate Bank and Signature Bank.
Armstrong Criticizes SEC’s Approach
Meanwhile, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has warned that a hostile regulatory approach by the SEC could drive the crypto industry outside of the United States.
The crypto boss said that almost all major financial hubs, including Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and most recently, the European Union, have introduced comprehensive crypto legislation, adding that the US should also follow suit if it doesn’t want to lag behind.
“What I believe should happen in the United States is that we need a clear rulebook so that this industry can be built here. We don’t want it to be like 5G or semiconductors that went offshore. It’s actually a matter of national security we get the future of the financial system built here inside the United States.”
Notably, Coinbase has recently announced the launch of its own layer 2 blockchain for Ethereum called Base. The L2 describes itself as a “secure, low-cost, developer-friendly” way to build decentralized applications (dApps), and will serve as a home both for Coinbase’s own on-chain products and as an open ecosystem for developers.
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