Notably, the regulator has a closed meeting scheduled for 2 pm ET (7 pm UTC).
According to FOX Business journalist Eleanor Terrett, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission will make a potentially big announcement tomorrow.
Terrett disclosed this in a tweet on Feb. 9 around 3 am UTC, citing anonymous sources. The journalist speculates that the announcement could come after a closed SEC meeting scheduled for 2 pm ET (7 pm UTC).
The report by Terrett has sparked several speculations, including a settlement with Ripple, a settlement with Kraken, or a ban on crypto staking for retail customers in the U.S.
Could It Be a Ripple Settlement?
It is worth noting that the SEC case against Ripple is nearing its end. As disclosed by Attorney James K. Filan, everything has been briefed, and the case is awaiting a decision from Judge Analisa Torres.
Notably, Attorney John E. Deaton, who represents thousands of XRP holders as a friend of the court in the case, has recently argued that an out-of-court settlement is unlikely to happen before the court ruling. The lawyer opined that the regulator is willing to tough it out to the end, encouraged by the judgment in its case against LBRY and the FTX collapse. Consequently, he believes a settlement will only likely come after a court ruling to stay a potential jury trial and appeals.
However, it is worth noting that some circumstances have changed since the attorney made this prediction, particularly in the LBRY case.
Following the attorney’s involvement in the case on behalf of Naomi Brockwell in support of LBRY’s motion to limit the SEC’s remedies, the attorney reported that the judge had clarified his ruling that LBRY Credit sales represented securities not apply to secondary market sales. In addition, the attorney claimed that the judge also compelled the SEC to go on the record, agreeing that the underlying assets of investment contracts are not securities.
Notably, this would damage the SEC’s broad claims about XRP in its Ripple case. However, it might still not be enough to force the SEC to settle, as it could still score a win regarding direct sales from Ripple.
As we await the court’s decision, Ripple’s general counsel has expressed confidence in Ripple’s defense, comparing the SEC’s case in the aftermath to the alleged Chinese spy balloon shot down by the U.S. military.
What About a Kraken Settlement?
Notably, this is the outcome that Terrett hints at. It follows a recent Bloomberg report that reveals that the leading crypto exchange is under investigation by the SEC for potentially offering unregistered securities to American customers.
The report, citing anonymous sources close to the matter, asserts that the investigation is coming to a head and could lead to a settlement in the coming days. Kraken is the third-largest spot crypto exchange by trading volume per CoinMarketCap data, with over $629 million in crypto trading in the last 24 hours. It offers users access to 221 cryptocurrencies. Per the report, it is unclear which of these the U.S. market regulator believes to be a security.
However, the reported SEC claims are unsurprising, considering the SEC chair’s view on cryptocurrencies. Notably, Gary Gensler asserts that most cryptocurrencies, except Bitcoin, are securities.
Recall that the SEC has already launched enforcement actions against Gemini this year, naming the crypto exchange and Genesis Trading in a complaint accusing both parties of engaging in the offer and sale of unregistered securities via Gemini’s Earn program.
Perhaps a Ban on Crypto Staking for U.S. Retail Customers?
Coinbase chief executive officer Brian Armstrong in a Twitter thread on Feb. 8 at around 11 pm UTC, disclosed that he had heard rumors that the SEC is planning to prevent retail investors from participating in crypto staking. According to the Coinbase chief, if true, it will be a terrible path for the U.S.
Armstrong asserted that aside from letting users participate in running blockchains, it also provides benefits like improved scalability, security, and reduced carbon footprint. In addition, Armstrong asserts that staking does not represent security.
Again the Coinbase chief called for clear crypto rules to avoid stifling technology in the U.S. Armstrong, citing FTX’s collapse, asserted that the SEC’s current path of regulation by enforcement does not work but only pushes businesses abroad.
For context, generally, staking allows users to earn rewards for locking up crypto assets to validate transactions on the blockchain. There are exceptions like Cardano, which offers non-custodial liquid staking that does not require users to lock up funds.
It is worth noting that the SEC believes that crypto staking falls under its jurisdiction. Recall that Gensler asserted that Ethereum’s migration to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) could make it a security.
It is worth noting that crypto exchanges offer staking services for a fee to users. As previously reported, Coinbase offers the second most popular staking service for the Ethereum network, with 12.8% of the 16M ETH staked by the end of January. Consequently, a ban on retail staking could hurt the company’s revenue.
Meanwhile, Coinbase is also under investigation by the SEC for potentially offering unregistered securities to U.S. customers. While the SEC has not taken any action against the crypto exchange directly, in an insider trading case against a former Coinbase project manager and two others, the regulator alleges that 9 of the cryptocurrencies offered by Coinbase are securities.
If the SEC chooses to ban crypto staking for retail investors, it will likely push them to decentralized services like Lido, which are more censorship resistant.
In the wake of uncertainty, crypto asset prices are plummeting. Bitcoin is trading for $22,702, down 2.16% in the last 24 hours. However, Lido’s DAO governance token LDO is bucking this trend, up 9% in the last 24 hours.