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Coinbase CEO Argues CFTC Should Not Regulate DeFi

CEO Brian Armstrong’s stance on CFTC actions against DeFi sparks debate over decentralization in the crypto industry.

Key Points

  • Coinbase faces accusations of improper conduct in U.S. courts but denies wrongdoing and seeks case dismissal.
  • CEO Brian Armstrong’s positive influence on institutional investors and policymakers continues amid the legal battle, as he meets with House Representatives to discuss crypto legislation.
  • Armstrong expresses concern about CFTC actions against DeFi, encouraging DeFi protocols to challenge enforcement actions in court.
  • The debate over DeFi decentralization arises, with critics questioning true decentralization if protocols can be taken to court, emphasizing the need to prove decentralization to avoid legal issues.

Coinbase, a prominent player in the cryptocurrency market, is currently dealing with accusations of improper conduct in U.S. courts. However, the platform’s legal representatives have denied these allegations and have even requested the dismissal of the case.

Despite the ongoing legal battle, Coinbase and its CEO, Brian Armstrong, are generally seen as positive influencers by institutional investors and policymakers. Armstrong recently met with House Representatives to discuss upcoming cryptocurrency legislation.

It’s important to note that Coinbase is a centralized platform and has not claimed to be decentralized. As a result, Armstrong has expressed his views on the legal issues that decentralized counterparts might face.

CFTC’s View on DeFi and Potential Consequences

Armstrong believes that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should not take actions against decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, as their authority in this matter is questionable and may harm the industry. He expressed these thoughts on Twitter, encouraging DeFi protocols to challenge the CFTC’s enforcement actions in court.

On the other hand, the CFTC holds a different perspective on the role of DeFi. According to CFTC Enforcement Division Director Ian McGiley, unlawful transactions do not become lawful when facilitated by smart contracts. The CFTC is determined to pursue unregistered platforms that allow U.S. individuals to trade digital asset derivatives.

Some members of Coinbase’s community criticized Armstrong’s statement, particularly his suggestion that DeFi protocols are not financial services. They argue that the “Fi” in DeFi stands for finance and question the inconsistency in his statement.

The Question of Decentralization in DeFi

Several users pointed out that the possibility of a DeFi protocol being taken to court implies a lack of true decentralization. They argue that if a project were genuinely decentralized, there wouldn’t be any individuals or companies capable of standing trial for financial misconduct. The mere creation of a protocol would not be considered illegal.

In order for the CFTC to stop pursuing DeFi protocols, these platforms targeted by regulators would need to prove their decentralization, with no master keys or backdoors.


Coinbase is currently facing accusations of improper conduct in U.S. courts, but the company insists on its innocence and requests dismissal of the case. In the midst of this legal battle, Coinbase and its CEO, Brian Armstrong, maintain a positive reputation among institutional investors and policymakers.

Armstrong’s views on the CFTC’s actions against DeFi protocols have sparked debate. While he believes the CFTC should not interfere with DeFi, the CFTC insists on holding unregistered platforms accountable for facilitating digital asset derivative trading.

The question of decentralization in DeFi also arises, with critics arguing that a project must prove true decentralization to avoid legal entanglements. With these ongoing discussions, the future of Coinbase and the regulation of DeFi remain uncertain.