CEO Brian Armstrong has made it clear that a move may be on the cards in a few years if US regulators fail to provide clarity.
American crypto exchange Coinbase may consider moving its headquarters to the UK if the frosty regulatory landscape in the US doesn’t improve.
When asked by former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at a fintech conference in London whether Coinbase would consider moving to the UK, Armstrong said: “Anything is on the table, including, you know, relocating, or whatever is necessary.”
Since the collapse of FTX in November 2022, US regulators have taken a heavy-handed approach to regulating crypto markets. On Friday, the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) announced that DeFi platforms must comply with existing securities laws since the Commission ‘already’ views them as exchanges, provoking strong dissent.
In March, three crypto-friendly US banks collapsed in stunning succession, and in the same month, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued Binance for offering commodity derivatives transactions to US customers.
Coinbase has also faced regulatory difficulties over the past year. Last March, the company received a Wells Notice from the SEC notifying it of pending enforcement action regarding Coinbase Earn, Coinbase Prime, and Coinbase Wallet.
At the conference, Brian Armstrong said that: “The U.K. is our second-largest market in terms of revenue. We’re founded in the US, and I think the US has the potential to be an important market in crypto – but right now, we’re not seeing the regulatory clarity we need.”
Armstrong clarified that a move isn’t imminent, but it’s a strong possibility if regulators continue on the current trajectory.
He said: “If a number of years go by where we don’t see regulatory clarity emerge in the US, we may have to consider investing more elsewhere and relocating wherever is necessary.”
Three days prior to the conference, SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce issued a scathing dissent in response to the Commission’s plans to treat DeFi platforms as traditional exchanges, citing the approach as ‘unworkable’.
Peirce questioned whether compliance with the current regulations is even possible, pointing out that many crypto firms have tried to register with the SEC but have been unable to do so due to lack of clarity.
She said: “The Commission does seem to anticipate that its interpretation will drive decentralized protocols toward centralization, extinction, or expatriation. It blithely acknowledges at one point that those involved in these systems “may instead choose to operate outside the U.S. or exit the market.”
Armstong’s remarks closely echo the concerns raised by Commissioner Peirce days earlier.
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