SEC Denies Coin-base’s Petition for New Crypto Rules, Prompting Legal Battle


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently rejected a petition from Coinbase Global, the nation’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, requesting new regulations for the digital asset sector. This decision, made in a 3-2 vote by the five-member commission, sparked a legal dispute between Coinbase and the SEC. Despite the denial, Coinbase has indicated its intention to challenge the SEC’s decision in court, marking the latest chapter in an ongoing struggle between the crypto industry and the top U.S. markets regulator.

The SEC’s Decision and Coin Base’s Response:

The SEC’s denial was based on the commission’s belief that existing regulations are not “unworkable” for the crypto sphere, contradicting Coinbase’s assertion that current laws are inadequate for the evolving crypto landscape. In a separate statement, SEC Chair Gary Gensler emphasized that the current laws and regulations are applicable to the crypto securities markets. However, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, contested this, stating that the industry requires clearer laws and rules to foster consumer protection and promote U.S. innovation.

Coinbase promptly notified an appeals court of its intention to seek judicial review of the SEC’s decision, underscoring the significance of this legal battle in shaping the regulatory landscape for the cryptocurrency market.

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Background of the Dispute:

The disagreement between Coinbase and the SEC represents a broader conflict between the crypto sector and the regulatory authority. The SEC has consistently asserted its jurisdiction over most crypto tokens, classifying them as securities and subject to its oversight. This stance has led to legal action against various crypto companies, including Coinbase, accused of listing and trading tokens that should be registered as securities.

Coin Base’s Efforts for Regulatory Clarity:

In 2022, Coinbase urged the SEC to establish a tailored set of rules specifically for the crypto sector, arguing that the existing U.S. securities laws lack the necessary provisions for the unique characteristics of digital assets. In April of the same year, Coinbase took legal action, appealing to a judge to compel the SEC to respond to its petition. However, the court opted not to force the SEC to act, given the regulator’s commitment to responding to Coinbase’s petition.

The Need for Clarity:

Crypto firms, including Coinbase, have consistently advocated for clearer guidelines from the SEC regarding the classification of digital assets as securities. The lack of clear criteria has resulted in uncertainty within the industry, hindering innovation and development.

Gensler’s Perspective:

Gary Gensler, the SEC Chair, maintained that Coinbase’s request for new rules implicitly acknowledged the SEC’s authority over the crypto sector. This assertion contrasts with Coinbase’s historical position, challenging the extent of the SEC’s jurisdiction.

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Dissenting Voices:

Notably, Republican SEC Commissioners Hester Peirce and Mark Uyeda expressed their disagreement with the majority decision. They issued a joint statement emphasizing that the issues raised by Coinbase’s petition are essential to address, considering the rapid advancements in technology and other innovations. They argued that responsibly addressing these issues is a crucial aspect of regulatory oversight.


The denial of Coinbase’s petition by the SEC sets the stage for a legal showdown that could have far-reaching implications for the crypto industry’s regulatory framework. As the crypto sector evolves, the need for clear and comprehensive regulations becomes increasingly apparent. The outcome of this legal battle will likely shape the future of crypto regulations in the United States, impacting not only Coinbase but also how other crypto firms navigate the complex regulatory landscape.


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