Business 18 July 2018

Ed Drake

Coinbase inches closer to security tokens listing with regulatory green light

Coinbase has moved a step closer to offering security tokens this week, following a decision from two U.S. regulators to approve its acquisition of three related companies, Bloomberg reported.

The deal was based on the acquisitions of Keystone Capital Corp., Venovate Marketplace Inc. and Digital Wealth LLC, licensed entities which could provide Coinbase with the regulatory coverage to expand their service.

The high-profile wallet and exchange service was given the all clear by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to purchase the companies, which will give them the scope to list securities under the direct oversight of the regulators.

The development was considered to be a major milestone for Coinbase, as it would see the crypto company regulated at a federal level for the first time—a key step towards structured, regulated token sales.

In June, Coinbase said that regulatory approval would allow them to act as a broker-dealer and an alternative trading system, which would enable the firm to list a broader range of assets and provide a wider range of services.

Crucially, this could also eventually provide a regulated channel for ICOs, which the SEC said fall under the legal definition of a ‘security’ in most cases. This presents a potentially significant opportunity for Coinbase to position as a market leader among alternative trading systems for security tokens.

Coinbase spokesman Elliott Suthers said that by acquiring the firms, Coinbase was a step closer to eventually being able to trade securities tokens. “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,” Suthers told the news outlet. “There are many more steps and conversations needed with regulators before this journey’s complete.”

Regulated ICOs and token sales are considered an essential step in normalising the ICO scene. Popular amongst startups and investors over the last couple of years, they have run into difficulties with both regulators and law enforcement in a number of cases.

Update: Coinbase has retracted its earlier announcement. In an email to Bloomberg, Coinbase spokesperson Rachael Horwitz said it’s “not correct to say that the SEC and FINRA approved Coinbase’s purchase of Keystone because SEC was not involved in the approval process.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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