Coinbase’s Armstrong Pushes for Grassroots Crypto Advocacy in SEC Fight

After Wells Notice Coinbase Calls on Voters to Defend Crypto

By: Owen Fernau Loading...

Coinbase’s Armstrong Pushes for Grassroots Crypto Advocacy in SEC Fight

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong is urging crypto enthusiasts in the U.S. to make their political voices heard.

Armstrong and three other Coinbase executives in a Twitter Space Thursday encouraged Americans to urge their local congressperson to adopt a pro-crypto stance, specifically through Crypto 435, an advocacy program Coinbase launched in February.

The push came a day after the SEC sent Coinbase a letter indicating the agency intended to file an enforcement action against the company. The letter, called a Wells Notice, asserted that Coinbase had violated securities laws. Coinbase is positioning crypto as a source of jobs and innovation, which America is risking by letting the SEC run wild with enforcement action.

“I think everybody realizes this is not just a Coinbase thing,” Armstrong said on the Space. “This is about our entire industry.”

Voting Bloc

Kara Calvert, Coinbase’s head of US Policy, placed particular emphasis on the advancement of digital asset innovation in the United States. She said the fact that there are 50 million Americans, roughly 15% of the population, suggests crypto holders have power as a voting bloc.

“The biggest thing we can do is demonstrate that this is not some sort of ethereal concept,” Calvert said. “This is real. This means real jobs, this is real innovation.”

Faryar Shirzad, Coinbase’s chief policy officer, said the U.S. should work to stay on the “cutting edge” of tech, whether it’s biotech, semiconductors, AI, machine learning, or crypto.

Uniquely Aggressive

Crypto is unique though, in that core to its innovation are volatile assets that trade in global, public markets, without intermediaries. These assets have been attractive to opportunists and scammers, leaving individual investors at risk, and that’s exactly what the SEC wants to prevent.

Still, crypto enthusiasts will say the SEC has been uniquely aggressive towards the industry, effectively limiting its growth in the U.S. by not providing clear regulatory guidelines.

Collins Belton, a well-known lawyer in the digital asset space, said SEC Chair Gary Gensler believes that most crypto assets are securities, that there’s too much fraud in the space, and that there isn’t enough disclosure to make crypto safe for retail.

Political Play

Belton said there may be some political play influencing Gensler’s actions too, as enforcement activity may be seen favorably within the Biden administration.

Looking forward and beyond the SEC’s Wells Notice, Shirzad, Coinbase’s chief policy officer, says the United States Congress is where regulatory action will focus next.

“I think what you’ll see now over the next few weeks is Congress is going to step up,” he said. “Congressional leaders have already said that over the course of the next 90 days, we’ll see bills introduced, hearings held, potentially actually movement on pieces of legislation.”