SEC To Target Stablecoins and DeFi Next Amidst Ongoing U.S. Crypto Crackdown
In a recent research report, Berenberg, the investment bank, highlighted stablecoins and decentralized finance (DeFi) as the next likely targets in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) ongoing crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry. Berenberg suggests that the SEC may shift its focus towards bringing stablecoins, including the two largest by market cap, tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), along with decentralized finance protocols, into regulatory compliance.
Earlier this month, the SEC filed lawsuits against Binance, its founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, and Binance.US, alleging violations of federal securities laws. Shortly after, rival exchange Coinbase (COIN) faced similar charges from the SEC. Berenberg speculates that the SEC’s attention may now turn to reducing the potential for unregulated DeFi protocols to serve as alternatives to regulated lenders and exchanges by targeting stablecoins, which are considered the lifeblood of decentralized finance. This regulatory action could also weaken the overall DeFi ecosystem.
Berenberg’s report raises concerns about the impact on Coinbase’s revenue if USD Coin becomes a target for U.S. regulators. The report points out that in the first quarter of 2023, Coinbase generated $199 million in net revenue, approximately 27% of the total, from interest income earned on USDC reserves. Therefore, any significant regulatory action against stablecoins could have a substantial financial impact on Coinbase.
Interestingly, the SEC has classified Bitcoin (BTC) as a commodity rather than an unregistered security. Berenberg’s note suggests that Bitcoin is likely to benefit from the ongoing crackdown, as the regulatory landscape shifts. Consequently, the report predicts that companies like MicroStrategy (MSTR), known for their focus on acquiring and holding bitcoins, are well positioned to outperform. The regulatory clampdown is expected to steer the U.S. crypto industry towards a greater emphasis on Bitcoin compared to previous years.
As the SEC’s scrutiny intensifies, the crypto industry eagerly awaits further regulatory developments that could reshape the landscape and determine the future of stablecoins, DeFi, and their impact on market players like Coinbase and Bitcoin-focused enterprises such as MicroStrategy.
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