Coinbase (COIN) CEO Brian Armstrong says the industry can finally close the chapter of bad actors after the recent settlement between Binance and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“There certainly have been a few bad actors in crypto and I think we’ve had a moment recently with the enforcement action against Binance that’s allowing us to turn the page on that and close that chapter of crypto’s history,” Armstrong said in an interview with CNBC International Monday at the Global Investment Summit in London.
He also said that the criminal enforcement actions against Binance and the once-popular but now bankrupt crypto exchange FTX show that taking your business offshore doesn’t work. While Binance is a Hong Kong-based company, mostly focused on business in the Asia Pacific region, FTX was headquartered in the Bahamas.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get big fast by skirting the rules but you’ll always come crashing back down to reality,” he said, arguing that it’s time for U.S.-based companies that have complied with regulation from the beginning to grow.
Though different from Binance’s legal struggles in the U.S., Coinbase is still battling with U.S. regulators on allegations that the exchange operated an unregistered broker, exchange and clearing agency simultaneously. Armstrong said he feels good about the case's outcome and that it will help with regulatory clarity in the U.S.
The company remains focused on its commitment to its U.S. business despite its efforts to grow in other jurisdictions, including the U.K., which Armstrong said is Coinbase’s second biggest market. “We started the company in the U.S. and we’re committed to staying there and we’re going to grow there because it’s a big market.”
Armstrong also said the race to launch a spot-bitcoin ETF is “monumental” for the industry. “It’ll bring in new sources of capital into crypto that aren’t able to participate directly today and I think it’d be a legitimizing outcome for the industry,” he said.
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.