Bitcoin fell back to $22,000 on Thursday shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laid charges against Kraken for the unregistered offering of its staking services.
Kraken agreed to halt the service and pay $30 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties, without admitting to or denying any wrongdoing.
- According to the SEC’s press release, by letting users hand over their cryptocurrency in exchange for a promised return, Kraken’s staking service constituted a securities sale.
- “Whether it’s through staking-as-a-service, lending, or other means, crypto intermediaries, when offering investment contracts in exchange for investors’ tokens, need to provide the proper disclosures and safeguards required by our securities laws,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
- The chairman added that other staking platforms ought to register and provide proper disclosures about any risks involved. Gensler has previously argued that proof of stake cryptocurrencies may well be securities in and of themselves.
- Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said the shutdown will help “protect investors” from Kraken’s service, which offered returns “untethered to any economic realities” and retained the right to pay no interest whatsoever.
- Staking-as-a-service involves pooling users’ crypto assets together to stake them on proof-of-stake cryptocurrency networks, such as Ethereum or Solana. Returns varied depending on the currency being staked, with some interest advertised as high as 21%.
- Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong – whose exchange also offers staking-as-a-service – warned that the SEC was planning enforcement action against similar products late on Wednesday. He argued that staking services do not constitute securities, and provide benefits to the industry such as “scalability, increased security, and reduced carbon footprints.”
- “We need to make sure that new technologies are encouraged to grow in the US, and not stifled by lack of clear rules,” he added.
- Less than 24 hours ago, Bitcoin traded for roughly $22,950 but sharply fell after Thursday’s announcement to $21,791. Meanwhile, Ether has declined from $1648 to $1548 – a 6% fall.