Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong showed optimism that the cryptocurrency industry can “turn the page” following Binance’s settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The enforcement action against Binance, that’s allowing us to kind of turn the page on that and hopefully close that chapter of history,” said Armstrong in an interview with CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche.
Armstrong believes that regulatory clarity will attract more investment, especially from institutional investors, contributing to the growth of the crypto economy globally.
“There are many crypto companies that are helping build the crypto economy and change our financial system globally. But many of them are still small startups,” said Armstrong.
“I think that regulatory clarity is going to help bring in more investment, especially from institutions.”
Last week saw Binance facing a $4 billion settlement imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), prompting the resignation of founder and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.
Zhao admitted guilt to charges associated with money laundering violations. The government’s accusations included Binance’s breach of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and violations of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Addressing the industry’s reputation, Armstrong pushed back against the perception that cryptocurrencies are predominantly used for nefarious purposes such as fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.
While acknowledging there have been “bad actors” in the space, referencing the Binance case and the collapse of FTX, Armstrong underlined that most crypto companies are contributing positively to reshaping the global financial system.
“It’s true that there have been some small amount of illicit activity in crypto, but it’s actually less than one percent from what we’ve seen. If you look at illicit uses of cash it’s oftentimes more than that,” he said to CNBC.
Armstrong urges clear crypto laws
Armstrong, who was in the U.K. for the Global Investment Summit on Monday, expressed admiration for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership in digital currencies, noting that Coinbase’s investments in the U.K. are expanding as a result.
Notably, the U.K. is actively working toward incorporating digital assets, including cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, into its regulatory framework.
Coinbase has taken a proactive stance in advocating for regulatory clarity in U.S. courts and Congress in recent months, particularly in the face of an intensified regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency market.
Armstrong urged regulators to establish clear and conducive rules for the crypto sector in the U.S., advocating for a shift away from prolonged legal battles and sanctions against various projects.
He emphasized the importance of creating an environment where Americans do not need to seek crypto benefits from unregistered exchanges elsewhere, underscoring the resilience of the U.S. democratic economy in getting regulatory matters right.
“We now have an opportunity to start a new chapter for this industry. We took a lot of arrows operating here in the U.S. due to the lack of regulatory clarity, and my hope is that today’s news serves as a catalyst to finally achieve that,” said Armstrong.
Coinbase is currently involved in a high-stakes legal battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over allegations of violating securities laws on its platform, which the company vehemently denies.
In response to the legal scrutiny, Armstrong expressed confidence in the company’s prospects in fighting the lawsuit. Contrary to speculation, he refuted claims that the SEC’s actions had compelled Coinbase to relocate offshore, asserting that the company remains actively committed to investing in its domestic market.