Coinbase Affirms that Its Staking Services are Not Securities
- Coinbase stated that its staking services cannot be classified as securities by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- Paul Grewal, the Chief Legal Officer at the exchange, stated that staking is neither a security under the US Securities Act nor under the Howey test.
- Grewal noted that the rewards are not decided by the exchange but by the blockchain protocol in which the customers invest and stake tokens.
- Earlier this week, the SEC force Kraken to shut down its staking services in the US and the exchange also paid a fine of around $30 million.
The largest crypto exchange in the United States, Coinbase, published a blog post on Feb. 10 stating that the company’s staking services cannot be classified as securities by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This blog was a result of the regulator shutting down another major exchange, Kraken’s staking services, after stating that the company failed to register these services as security offerings with the SEC.
According to the blog post from Coinbase authored by Paul Grewal, the Chief Legal Officer at the exchange, staking is neither a security under the US Securities Act nor under the Howey test. Grewal added that “trying to superimpose securities law onto a process like staking doesn’t help consumers at all and instead imposes unnecessarily aggressive mandates that will prevent US consumers from accessing basic crypto services and push users to offshore, unregulated platforms.”
As reported earlier by Bitnation, the SEC claimed in the action against Kraken that staking involves customers giving up their coins to the platform. The regulator believes that Kraken “not only offered investors outsized returns untethered to any economic realities, but also retained the right to pay them no returns at all.”
“When a customer asks us to stake some of their crypto, they aren’t giving up one thing to get something else – they own exactly the same thing they did before. Staking customers retain full ownership of their assets at all times, as well as the right to “unstake” those assets consistent with the underlying protocol,” noted Grewal.
It is crucial to note that the Howey test includes four elements that govern if an offering can be considered a security: investment of money, common enterprise, reasonable expectation of profits, and efforts of others. Coinbase CLO added in the blog post that the company’s staking services do not come under any of these elements and also, do not meet the “common enterprise” prong of Howey because assets are staked on decentralized networks.
Grewal noted that “stakers are only connected by blockchain technology and they validate transactions through a community of users, not a common enterprise.” He noted that the rewards are not decided by Coinbase but by the blockchain protocol in which the customers invest and stake tokens.
The staking services also do not come under the “reasonable expectation of profits” element because “staking rewards are simply payments for validation services provided to the blockchain, not a return on investment.” Moreover, staking also do not pay rewards based on the “efforts of others” because it is the protocol’s blockchain that governs everything.
“The purpose of securities law is to correct for imbalances in information. But there is no imbalance of information in staking, as all participants are connected on the blockchain and are able to validate transactions through a community of users with equal access to the same information,” noted Grewal.
An important fact to note here is that Kraken has shut down its staking operations in the US and will no longer allow the citizens of the country to stake their assets. On the other hand, non-US residents can stake their crypto coins.