Coinbase, the leading cryptocurrency trading platform in the United States, has recently found itself embroiled in a legal battle with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, accusing Coinbase of operating without proper registration, thereby violating regulations designed to safeguard investors.

This lawsuit has sent shockwaves through the crypto market, impacting not only the global cryptocurrency market but also Coinbase’s stock value and triggering concerns about the broader implications for the industry.

The SEC Lawsuit Against Coinbase

In a complaint lodged with the Manhattan federal court, the SEC alleges that Coinbase has been functioning as an unregistered broker since about 2019, breaching disclosure requirements aimed at protecting investors.

The regulator also claims that Coinbase, through its various services such as Coinbase Prime and Coinbase Wallet, facilitated cryptocurrency transactions without obtaining the necessary authorization.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler emphasized the gravity of Coinbase’s alleged failures, stating that they deprived investors of crucial protections against fraud, manipulation, conflicts of interest, and routine inspections.

The SEC chairman noted: 

Coinbase’s alleged failures deprive investors of critical protections, including rulebooks that prevent fraud and manipulation, proper disclosure, safeguards against conflicts of interest, and routine inspection.

During an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Gensler remarks about crypto trading platforms and questioned their operational models. He highlighted the fact that these platforms, often referred to as exchanges, encompasses various functions that go beyond traditional exchange activities. Drawing a comparison, he said that the New York Stock Exchange does not engage in hedge fund operations.

Market Impact And COIN Stock Decline

News of the SEC lawsuit had an immediate impact on Coinbase’s stock value, which plunged significantly during premarket trading following the filing.

The legal action against Coinbase comes on the heels of the SEC’s recent lawsuit against Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and its founder Changpeng Zhao, further intensifying scrutiny on the industry.

In the wake of the SEC lawsuit, Coinbase’s stock (COIN) has experienced a significant downturn, recording a 13% loss in just one day. This downward trend has seen Coinbase shares tumble from a high of $64 last Tuesday to $50.15 within the past 24 hours.

Coinbase stock (COIN)’s chart on TradingView

The outcome of the legal battle and its potential implications for Coinbase’s operations could have lasting effects on the company’s stock performance and the broader cryptocurrency market.

Already, the fallout from these legal challenges has resulted in a 2.8% decline in the global crypto market, causing its overall value to dip below the $1.2 trillion mark, which had previously served as a plateau.

Larger crypto market such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) has also fallen dramatically with both recording 2.7% and 1.3% decline in the past 24 hours, respectively.

Featured image from Shutterstock, Chart from TradingView