The curious case of Kraken: Innovators will always find a way

The curious case of Kraken: Innovators will always find a way

The decision of the US Securities and Exchange Commission to penalize crypto exchange Kraken with a $30 million fine and shut down the exchange’s on-chain staking program would be nothing but a stress test for innovations in the crypto industry if the market reactions were to be the basis.

“Whether it’s through staking-as-a-service, lending, or other means, crypto intermediaries, when offering investment contracts in exchange for investors’ tokens, need to provide the proper disclosures and safeguards required by our securities laws,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “Today’s action should make clear to the marketplace that staking-as-a-service providers must register and provide full, fair, and truthful disclosure and investor protection.”

“In case after case, we’ve seen the consequences when individuals and businesses tout and offer crypto investments outside of the protections provided by the federal securities laws: investors lack the disclosures they deserve and are harmed when they don’t receive them,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement said in a press release.

Hours after the SEC announcement, BTC prices went back down to the 21,000 to the US dollar territories but held steady just under the 22,000 mark after weeks of rallying close to 24,000. However, prices of two of the largest pooled staking services shot up - RPL’s price increased by 14.5% and LDO gained 13.2% within 24 hours after the announcement.

Innovators will find a way

“You could see two types of market feedback. One is a knee-jerk reaction to the BTC prices, which was expected, and another to the prospects of pooled stakers, which is a clear signal about the value of staking as an innovation in crypto,” said Ben Yorke of WOO Network’s Ecosystem team.

“While the SEC ruling only emphasized the need to be transparent to users, Coinbase's rumor that the SEC could prohibit retail customers from participating in staking would push businesses to consider locations that don't deter progress and invest more in decentralized alternatives. These two have been our focus with our intensified presence in Europe and Asia as well as improving the DeFi offering with WOOFi and WOOFi DEX as we have mentioned in our 2022 Q4 report,” he said.

“Crypto survived the loss of China as a dominant market in 2021, with most of their crypto ecosystem immigrating to neighboring hubs. The loss of retail in the US would hurt but will simply accelerate the migration of users to DeFi while builders and capital will move overseas,”  Yorke noted further.

Reacting to the news, Coinbase’s Brain Armstrong said that staking is an important innovation in crypto as it allows users to participate directly in running open crypto networks. “Staking brings many positive improvements to the space, including scalability, increased security, and reduced carbon footprints,” he said.

Paxos' narrative is the same

Even as Kraken’s story develops, Paxos also made an announcement that it would stop issuing Binance USD (BUSD) on a threat of legal action from the SEC.

“The narrative will be the same - innovators will simply avoid the US and go somewhere else to keep growing while protecting the users,” noted Yorke.

On Monday following Kraken’s news, stablecoin issuer Paxos announced that it would stop issuing BUSD, a Binance-branded stablecoin issued and managed by Paxos, on a threat of legal action from the SEC.

A day before that, on Sunday the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC intends to sue Paxos over BUSD, alleging that the stablecoin is an unregistered security.

“Given the ongoing regulatory uncertainty in certain markets, we will be reviewing other projects in those jurisdictions to ensure our users are insulated from further undue harm,” A Binance spokesperson told CoinDesk.

Related story WOO Network leverages VASP registration in Poland as EU growth hub

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