Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong expressed optimism that the recent settlement involving Binance and the U.S. Department of Justice marks a pivotal moment for the cryptocurrency industry, allowing it to move forward and overcome past challenges. In an interview with CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche, Armstrong shared his insights on the impact of regulatory actions and the potential for increased institutional investment.
Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, faced a historic $4 billion settlement from the U.S. government last week. The settlement resulted in the departure of Binance’s founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, who pleaded guilty to money laundering violations. The U.S. Department of Justice accused Binance of violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and breaching sanctions related to Iran.
Armstrong sees the regulatory clarity stemming from the Binance settlement as a positive development that can attract more investment, particularly from institutional players. He acknowledged the role of smaller crypto startups in building the crypto economy but emphasized the need for regulatory clarity to facilitate growth.
“It’s true that there have been some small amounts of illicit activity in crypto, but it’s actually less than 1% from what we’ve seen. If you look at illicit uses of cash, it’s oftentimes more than that,” Armstrong countered, challenging the perception that cryptocurrencies are predominantly used for nefarious purposes.
While acknowledging instances of “bad actors,” such as Binance and the collapse of FTX, Armstrong believes that the vast majority of the crypto industry is focused on positive contributions to the financial system.
Coinbase’s presence at the Global Investment Summit in the U.K., where it was the sole crypto company invited, was described by Armstrong as an “endorsement” for Coinbase rather than the broader industry. He expressed admiration for U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership in the digital currency space, noting that Coinbase is actively investing more in the U.K.
Addressing Coinbase’s ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Armstrong conveyed confidence in the company’s position, asserting that the SEC’s actions have not led Coinbase to move offshore. Instead, he affirmed that Coinbase remains committed to investing actively in its home market.
As the industry undergoes regulatory developments and navigates legal challenges, Coinbase’s CEO remains bullish on the potential for positive growth and increased acceptance of cryptocurrencies on a global scale.