Decoding the SEC Lawsuits: #Binance and #Coinbase - Cryptos Labeled as Securities

Bombolo | News and Media

Photo by Kanchanara on Unsplash

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made a groundbreaking move by filing lawsuits against two crypto giants, Binance and Coinbase. These lawsuits have significant implications, accusing the exchanges of deceit, lack of disclosure, and regulatory violations. The SEC's actions have sparked debates on classifying cryptocurrencies as securities, which has far-reaching consequences for the crypto industry. In this blog, we delve into the details of the lawsuits, explore the Howey Test's relevance in the crypto domain, and discuss the tokens that the SEC has labeled as securities.

Lawsuits against Binance

Binance, known as a global cryptocurrency exchange leader, and its founder, Changpeng Zhao, are at the center of regulatory scrutiny. The SEC has accused Binance of various infringements, including the commingling of billions of dollars belonging to its users. This practice raises concerns about the security and integrity of the funds held on the platform.

Additionally, Binance is alleged to have deliberately bypassed regulations to enable affluent investors from the United States to participate in trading on its unregulated global exchange platform. Such actions could potentially expose investors to risks without adequate protection.

Lawsuit against Coinbase

Simultaneously, Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States, is grappling with a lawsuit filed by the SEC. The regulatory body asserts that Coinbase is operating as an unregistered broker and exchange. The primary focus of the lawsuit revolves around Coinbase's flagship services, including prime brokerage, exchange, and staking programs, which are believed to violate securities regulations.

These lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase have triggered widespread debates and deliberations within the cryptocurrency community. Many speculate whether the SEC aims to stifle these exchanges, thereby creating an opportunity for traditional Wall Street institutions to dominate the crypto market.

While the outcome of these legal battles remains uncertain, what is evident is the growing emphasis on regulatory compliance within the cryptocurrency industry. The SEC's actions serve as a clear signal that cryptocurrency exchanges must adapt to evolving regulatory frameworks or face potential repercussions.

Growing concern for regulatory compliance in the crypto market

One thing that has become abundantly clear through these lawsuits is the growing emphasis on regulatory compliance within the cryptocurrency market. With the SEC taking such proactive measures, cryptocurrency exchanges and industry participants are increasingly aware of the need to navigate the evolving regulatory frameworks. Failing to meet compliance requirements could lead to severe consequences, including legal action, reputational damage, and loss of investor trust.

The Howey Test in the Crypto Domain

Central to the SEC's legal action is the Howey Test, a legal framework established in 1946. Named after the landmark court case SEC vs. W.J. Howey Co., this test determines whether an investment qualifies as a "security." The four key criteria of the Howey Test include an investment of money, in a common enterprise, with an expectation of profit derived predominantly from the efforts of others.

The SEC contends that the 19 tokens traded on Binance and Coinbase meet the criteria set by the Howey Test. Factors such as initial sales, fundraising events, ongoing development commitments, and the use of social media to promote the features and advantages of these tokens contribute to the SEC's argument. However, critics assert that applying this test, which originated in a different era, to digital assets is insufficient and can result in overly restrictive regulatory outcomes.

The SEC's lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase represent a significant turning point in the regulatory landscape of the cryptocurrency industry. These actions underscore the importance of regulatory compliance and transparency within the market. Cryptocurrency exchanges and industry participants must navigate the evolving regulatory environment to ensure they meet compliance requirements. Failure to do so may have serious ramifications for the industry as a whole.

The Tokens Classified as Securities by the SEC

The regulatory agency has identified a significant number of cryptocurrencies as securities. This classification has far-reaching implications for the tokens involved and the broader cryptocurrency industry. The SEC's actions highlight the need for clear regulations and pose challenges for developers and token holders alike. Let's delve into the list of tokens labeled as securities and explore the potential consequences.

SEC Lawsuit Against Binance

The SEC lawsuit against Binance has resulted in the classification of the following tokens as securities:

  1. Cosmos (ATOM)
  2. Binance Coin (BNB)
  3. Binance USD (BUSD)
  4. COTI (COTI)

SEC Lawsuit Against Coinbase

Similarly, the SEC lawsuit against Coinbase has identified the following cryptocurrencies as securities:

  1. Chiliz (CHZ)
  2. Near (NEAR)
  3. Flow (FLOW)
  4. Internet Computer (ICP)
  5. Voyager Token (VGX)
  6. Dash (DASH)
  7. Nexo (NEXO)

Tokens Traded on Both Binance and Coinbase

Additionally, the SEC has labeled the following tokens, traded on both Binance and Coinbase, as securities:

  1. Solana (SOL)
  2. Cardano (ADA)
  3. Polygon (MATIC)
  4. Filecoin (FIL)
  5. The Sandbox (SAND)
  6. Decentraland (MANA)
  7. Algorand (ALGO)
  8. Axie Infinity (AXS)

If these tokens are indeed confirmed as securities, they may face delisting from U.S. exchanges and severe trading restrictions. Such a scenario would set a challenging precedent, creating regulatory hurdles for developers and token holders and potentially impacting the entire crypto industry.

The Extensive List of Cryptos Designated as Securities by the SEC

Expanding upon the charges against Binance and Coinbase, the SEC's list of alleged securities encompasses a total of 67 different cryptocurrencies. The inclusion of these tokens under specific regulations and requirements constitutes over $100 billion of the crypto market capitalization, representing roughly 10% of the total market.

Prominent cryptocurrencies previously declared securities by the SEC include Ripple (XRP), Telegram's Gram (TON), LBRY Credits (LBC), OmiseGo (OMG), and DASH. The list continues to grow, indicating the SEC's broadening jurisdiction over the crypto space.

SEC Chairman's Perspective and the Need for Regulatory Clarity

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has expressed his belief that "everything other than Bitcoin" could potentially fall within the agency's jurisdiction as a security. However, this viewpoint is not universally agreed upon, and the demand for regulatory clarity is intensifying. As the lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase unfold, they will likely establish new precedents and shape future legislation for the crypto industry.

This critical juncture in crypto regulation serves as a tipping point for the industry. The outcomes of these lawsuits are eagerly anticipated, as they are expected to have profound implications for the operations of the broader crypto market.

The Importance of Clear and Modern Regulatory Frameworks

The sweeping litigation by the SEC underscores the urgent need for clear, modern, and inclusive regulatory frameworks. As the cryptocurrency industry evolves at a rapid pace, it is essential for the laws governing it to keep up. Balancing innovation and investor protection is crucial for sustainable growth.

This chapter in crypto history emphasizes the necessity for a harmonious blend of legal and technological advancements. It sets the stage for an intriguing showdown that will shape the future of the industry.

The lawsuits filed by the SEC against Binance and Coinbase have brought the classification of cryptocurrencies as securities into the spotlight. The extensive list of tokens labeled as securities by the SEC has significant implications for the crypto industry as a whole. If confirmed as securities, these tokens could face delisting from U.S. exchanges and stringent trading restrictions. This development poses substantial regulatory challenges for developers and token holders and sets the stage for potential future legislation.

With over 67 different cryptocurrencies included in the SEC's list of alleged securities, representing over $100 billion in market capitalization, the scope of the agency's oversight continues to expand. The SEC Chairman's perspective suggests a broad purview, potentially encompassing all cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin. However, there is a growing need for regulatory clarity in this rapidly evolving industry.

The outcome of the lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase will shape the future of crypto regulation, establishing new precedents and influencing the operations of the broader crypto market. It highlights the urgency for clear and modern regulatory frameworks that foster innovation while ensuring investor protection.

As the crypto industry stands at this critical juncture, it calls for a harmonious combination of legal and technological advancements. The integration of comprehensive regulations and cutting-edge technology will pave the way for the industry's growth and ensure its long-term success.


1. What are the consequences of cryptocurrencies being classified as securities by the SEC? If cryptocurrencies are deemed securities, they may be delisted from U.S. exchanges and face strict trading restrictions, posing challenges for developers and token holders.

2. How many cryptocurrencies have been labeled as securities by the SEC? The SEC's list includes 67 different cryptocurrencies, accounting for over $100 billion in market capitalization.

3. What is the potential impact of the lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase on the crypto industry? The outcome of these lawsuits will likely establish new precedents and shape future legislation, influencing the operations and regulations of the broader crypto market.

4. Why is regulatory clarity important for the crypto industry? Regulatory clarity is crucial for fostering innovation while protecting investors' interests. It provides a stable and predictable environment for the industry's growth.

5. How does this chapter in crypto history highlight the need for a legal and technological handshake? The evolving crypto industry requires a seamless integration of legal frameworks and technological advancements to strike a balance between innovation and compliance.