Coinbase didn’t get (or need) SEC approval for acquisitions after all, company says

Hmm. Well, after Coinbase confirmed to Bloomberg (and us) that they had received regulatory approval for some acquisitions that would let it eventually usher in trading tokenized securities on its exchange, the company is now walking back from which agencies it received approval.

While a Coinbase spokesperson had initially indicated that the company had received approval from both FINRA and the SEC, it is now saying that the SEC did not offer approval, but only because Coinbase did not need their approval for a change of control application in the first place.

“The SEC’s approval is not required for the change of control application. Coinbase has discussed aspects of its proposed operations, including the acquisition of the Keystone Entity, on an informal basis with several members of SEC staff,” the spokesperson told TechCrunch. “So it’s not correct to say that the SEC and FINRA approved Coinbase’s purchase of Keystone because SEC was not involved in the approval process. Approval was received from FINRA.”

It’s all a bit confusing, though it doesn’t appear to change much as they still seem to have the needed approval from FINRA, but it is certainly an error in communication. The cryptocurrency industry and the SEC have not always had the most pleasant of interactions, so the news made it sound like both regulatory agencies were on a united front on this when the SEC didn’t offer any official input — so there really aren’t any takeaways, good or bad.