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News/SEC's Crypto Crusade: Coinbase Suffers Blow, Wallet Wins

SEC's Crypto Crusade: Coinbase Suffers Blow, Wallet Wins

Van Thanh Le

Mar 28 2024

4 months ago3 minutes read
Cubic robot celebrates amidst digital coins, SEC regulatory barriers symbolized

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A Nuanced Ruling in the Coinbase vs SEC Crypto Clash

Courtrooms thundered as a pivotal judgment unfolded in the legal tussle between Coinbase and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While victories echoed on both sides, the outcome charted uncharted territories for crypto regulation under U.S. securities laws.

Judge Katherine Polk Failla allowed the SEC's case against Coinbase to move forward on March 27 in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. This decision followed Coinbase's motion to dismiss the SEC's allegations of operating as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency.  

Judge Failla's documented ruling denied the motion to dismiss.png
Judge Failla's documented ruling denied the motion to dismiss.

Denying Coinbase's dismissal motion, the court upheld SEC claims of the exchange facilitating transactions in unregistered "crypto-asset securities." Coinbase's custodial wallet system reinforced its marketplace role, exposing parent CGI's potential liability. Staking programs, too, constituted unregistered securities offerings, aligning with the Howey Test criteria.

Yet Coinbase celebrated a win regarding its wallet application, as allegations fell short of deeming it an unregistered broker. Edward Snowden cautioned the SEC's perceived overreach could backfire, while legal experts hailed the self-custody wallet safeguard as a DeFi triumph.

The nuanced verdict underscored longstanding securities frameworks' applicability to crypto's novel tech and terminology. Coinbase's CEO lauded the wallet ruling as "a huge win" for self-custodial wallets, urging regulatory clarity for digital asset innovation. Conversely, the SEC achieved partial success in applying traditional laws to crypto activities.

Judge Failla's decision stemmed from the SEC's case against the US-based exchange in June 2023. The SEC claimed that Coinbase permitted trading of at least 13 crypto tokens that should have been registered as securities and failed to register its crypto asset's offer and sale through the "staking-as-a-service program."

Going forward, both parties brace for a potential trial, with case management plans imminent. They need to submit a case proceeding plan by April 19. Coinbase aims to uncover the SEC's internal crypto regulation perspectives through discovery. The closely-watched case could set precedents shaping crypto companies' operations under U.S. securities laws.

Crypto Wars: SEC Strikes Blow as Coinbase Counters

The SEC's legal clash with crypto titans intensified as a court delivered a resounding blow to Coinbase's dismissal plea, fueling Max Keiser's fiery accusations of "unregistered securities." Despite this setback, Coinbase's Wallet deftly dodged SEC crosshairs, igniting hopes in the self-custody realm.

As Edward Snowden lambasted the SEC's "aggressive stance," echoing predictions of a looming legal quagmire, Ethereum's commodity status reignited fiery debates. 

Bitcoin maximalists, Keiser at the helm, branded Ethereum a "centralized security," while Ripple basked in courtroom triumphs over XRP's classification. Yet, the SEC's $2 billion remedy demands loom large.

Ripple's Chief Legal Officer, Stuart Alderoty, portrayed the Coinbase vs SEC saga as a mere opening salvo in a prolonged judicial joust, where fairness ultimately favors the "good guys." Coinbase, emboldened, envisions a comprehensive discovery phase, poised to unearth the SEC's internal crypto perspectives – a strategy mirroring Ripple's legal maneuvers.

Eleanor Terrett, a journalist with FOX Business, also discussed the next steps for Coinbase following Judge Failla's ruling. According to her, the legal proceedings between Coinbase and the SEC are expected to extend well over a year, involving the discovery process, summary judgment brief filings, and the possibility of a trial. Coinbase might consider filing an "interlocutory appeal" against some or all parts of the motion to dismiss denial.

Carlo.eth, a prominent member of the Ethereum community and defense lawyer, emphasized the strategic significance of the discovery phase for Coinbase. He believes that full discovery will provide Coinbase with momentum going into the summary judgment phase.

As courtroom dramas unfold, Coinbase's plummeting stock price reflects the market's apprehension, underscoring the high stakes in this regulatory tug-of-war that could redefine crypto's future under U.S. securities laws.

Amid the legal drama, Coinbase announced the plan to increase USDC reserves on Base, its Ethereum Layer 2 solution, to enhance fund security with lower fees and faster settlement times. Base's TVL has exceeded $1 billion, doubling since the beginning of the month, driven by Aerodrome's growth. This decision comes as Circle prepares to halt USDC token creation on the Tron blockchain.  


The verdict in the Coinbase vs SEC case sets the stage for a lengthy legal battle with significant implications for crypto regulation. While the SEC scored a partial win regarding unregistered securities, Coinbase secured a victory for its self-custody wallet and aims to expose the SEC's internal views on crypto through discovery. The entire crypto industry braces for potential precedents impacting how crypto companies operate under US securities laws.


1. What did the judge decide in the Coinbase vs SEC case?

The judge allowed the SEC's case to proceed, denying Coinbase's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit. This means Coinbase will have to defend itself against accusations of facilitating trades in unregistered securities and offering unregistered securities through staking.

2. Did Coinbase win anything in the case?

Yes. The judge ruled that Coinbase's wallet application does not function as an unregistered broker. This is a win for self-custody wallets in the crypto industry.

3. What are the next steps for Coinbase?

Coinbase plans to go through discovery, a legal process where they can request information from the SEC. They hope to learn more about the SEC's internal views on crypto regulation. This strategy is similar to what Ripple did in their own case against the SEC.

4. How will this case impact the crypto industry?

The outcome of this case could set legal precedents that affect how crypto companies function under US securities laws. A win for the SEC could lead to stricter regulations for the entire crypto industry.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT. 

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