Coinbase Shares Fall After Dropping Interest-Earning Product

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This illustration photo shows the Coinbase logo in the background as a person checks cryptocurrencies prizes on a smartphone in Los Angeles on April 13, 2021
This illustration photo shows the Coinbase logo in the background as a person checks cryptocurrencies prizes on a smartphone in Los Angeles on April 13, 2021 AFP / Chris DELMAS

Shares in the cryptocurrency broker Coinbase fell more than 5% Monday after it announced that it would not be launching its anticipated interest-bearing product after scrutiny from U.S. regulators.

It was reported by CNBC that Coinbase’s shares fell after this decision and amid a wider drop in the price for cryptocurrencies amid worldwide scrutiny from regulators. In a statement, Coinbase thanked its customers for their interest and promised that it would be continuing to find new ways to bring new products to the market.

“We had hundreds of thousands of customers from across the country sign up and we want to thank you all for your interest,” the company said in a statement. “We will not stop looking for ways to bring innovative, trusted programs and products to our customers.”

While there was no mention of Coinbase’s public clash with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), this decision comes only weeks after CEO Brian Armstrong took to Twitter to accuse the SEC of singling his company out for unfair treatment.

By his own account, Armstrong said the SEC was the only regulator that refused a meeting with him during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. in his Tweets from Sept. 8. The reason given he says was that the agency was not meeting with any cryptocurrency companies. He later criticized the SEC for what he called “intimidation tactics” by refusing to be transparent or consistent with its opinions for his industry.

Armstrong argues that it is unfair for Coinbase to be singled out by the SEC for any enforcement action when cryptocurrency lending has been taking place across the industry. Other competitors however, like New Jersey-based BlockFi, have been hit by regulatory pressure from state-level agencies that are concerned over its own interest-bearing products.

In August, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said that his agency needed additional regulatory powers to police the cryptocurrency market. In testimony last week before Congress, Gensler explained that the market does not have enough investor protection in crypto finance, issuance, trading, or lending.

He likened it to the “Wild West” in his remarks before the Senate Finance Committee, a phrasing echoed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who frequently calls for more oversight of the U.S. financial sector. 

U.S. regulators are working on a number of new initiatives to improve their understanding of the cryptocurrency market. At the White House, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets is working on a report about stablecoins, digital currencies designed to be less volatile than other cryptocurrencies. The Federal Reserve is expected to put out a paper on central bank digital currencies this month that may also touch on any risks posed by stablecoins. 

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