Coinbase Deny Need For SEC Approval to Acquire Broker-Dealer Firms

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18.07.2018

Coinbase on Tuesday rejected a report by Bloomberg that claimed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had given the company the go-ahead to finalize the acquisition of three companies: Keystone Capital Corp., Venovate Marketplace Inc., and Digital Wealth LLC.

In an email to Bloomberg, the American digital currency exchange’s Vice President of Communications, Rachael Horwitz wrote that that not only did the SEC not give this endorsement but also that Coinbase never needed the endorsement in the first place.

“It is not correct to say that the SEC and FINRA approved Coinbase’s purchase of Keystone because SEC was not involved in the approval process,” Horwitz wrote.

Horwitz added that the confusion arose because “Coinbase has discussed aspects of its proposed operations, including the acquisition of the Keystone Entity, on an informal basis with several members of SEC staff.”

“The SEC’s approval is not required for the change of control application,” she explained.

At the time, Coinbase spokesman Elliott Suthers said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg that “being approved to take ownership of these licensed entities is one more step toward our ultimate goal of allowing our customers to trade securities tokens on our platform. There are many more steps and conversations needed with regulators before this journey’s complete.”

Coinbase originally announced plans to make the acquisitions in early June, an announcement that was nearly simultaneous with a statement from cryptocurrency platform Circle Internet Financial Ltd. that they would also be pursuing registration as a broker-dealer and a federal banking license to provide a wider variety of services to customers.

At the time, Bloomberg reported that “If U.S. regulators approve, Coinbase will use licenses its obtains to offer customers blockchain-based securities.”

Regardless of whether or not the SEC’s permission was needed to acquire the three firms, their acquisition does place Coinbase under the legal jurisdiction of the SEC and FINRA. In the past, Coinbase was regulated by various authorities on a state-by-state basis.

“This is not only a good thing for our company but a good thing for our industry,” said Adam White, general manager of Coinbase’s institutional branch. “We’re going to move at pace at which regulators are comfortable.”

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