After the U.S. federal government reached a $4.3 billion settlement with Binance on Tuesday, another exchange looks to return as crypto’s king: Coinbase.
Shares of the U.S.-based exchange are up approximately 18% from the previous week, from around $100 to approximately $118 as of Monday morning. “We’ve had a moment recently, with the enforcement action against Binance, that’s allowing us to turn the page on that and hopefully close that chapter of crypto’s history,” Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, said in an interview with CNBC in London.
He added: “Building a company offshore, skirting regulation, it’s just not going to work.”
Armstrong’s comments and Coinbase’s upswing in stock price come as the enforcement action against Binance, which stipulated that CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao step down and plead guilty to U.S. federal charges, opens up an opportunity for Armstrong’s firm to gain market share.
Founded in 2012, Coinbase has long marketed itself as the “good guy” of crypto, glad-handing with U.S. regulators and resisting the temptation to list flash-in-the-pan cryptocurrencies that regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission consider unregistered securities.
In 2017, Zhao, who had stints as a programmer for the Tokyo stock exchange and Bloomberg Trading, launched Binance and quickly cut into Coinbase’s brief market dominance after the fall of Mt. Gox, once the go-to exchange for trading Bitcoin.
With an undisclosed headquarters and a willingness, per U.S. authorities, to skirt regulatory restrictions, Zhao quickly grew Binance into a crypto titan that, by most measures, dominated both the simple purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies as well as the market for more complex financial instruments built on top of crypto prices.
Once the go-to exchange, Coinbase suddenly found itself flat-footed and soon instituted new policies to speed up the vetting process for listing new cryptocurrencies, including the infamous, dog-inspired Dogecoin.
In 2023, repeated regulatory action in the U.S. and abroad crippled Binance. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Binance in March and the SEC followed suit in June. Amid the ongoing lawsuits, Zhao’s exchange has seen its market share dwindle.
Coinbase, however, is not immune to legal trouble. In June, one day after suing Zhao and Binance, the SEC sued Armstrong’s exchange, litigation that is currently ongoing.
“We feel very good about our case with the SEC and our chances there,” Armstrong told CNBC. “Regardless of the outcome, it’s going to help us with our goal of getting regulatory clarity.”