Crypto Web3

Web3 Weekly: SEC Doing No Favors For Crypto Industry

This is a weekly feature that will look back at the week that was in crypto, blockchain and Web3, and offer insights and analysis. Check out our previous column here.

It’s no secret that the relationship between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the crypto industry is akin to that of a dog and a feral cat.

However, an interesting report by The Wall Street Journal further illustrates that frayed relationship and the fact that the SEC will not make it any easier for crypto to break out of its tailspin.

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According to the story, the SEC did not give approval for public listings to crypto-focused companies such as Bullish Global, Circle Internet Financial and eToro. The companies all were looking to go public through mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies.

While the SEC did not stop any of the firms from merging, the slow pace of the review process and extensive questioning seemed to hurt their efforts to list, per the report.

Circle’s plight

Boston-based Circle’s effort to go public certainly caught our eye before finally reaching its long, winding conclusion last month.

Circle’s proposed merger with blank-check firm Concord, which is backed by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, has been its own long and winding story.

The company — an issuer of USD Coin, a type of stablecoin — announced in July 2021 it would merge with Concord in a deal that would value the company at $4.5 billion. However, USD Coin’s circulation quickly doubled and, in February of last year, Circle terminated its previously announced merger agreement and agreed to new terms that doubled the crypto company’s valuation to $9 billion. 

That deal was expected to close last month, but instead the company called off its proposed merger agreement.

According to the report, the SEC raised more than 100 questions with Circle’s disclosures about the SPAC agreement.

Again, none of this comes as a surprise, but it is significant. VCs and other institutional Investors are likely more wary than ever about backing crypto startups. If it becomes clear one of the paths to a liquidity event is blocked by an agency such as the SEC, the appetite to invest in the space becomes even less.

In a market where it likely will be hard to raise funding for crypto-focused startups, the SEC’s actions may increase that difficulty level even slightly more.

Further reading:

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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