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Circle Dismisses SEC Labeling Stablecoins as Securities in Lawsuit Against Binance

Stablecoin issuer Circle behind USD Coin (USDC) delved into the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit against Binance. While Circle declared it would not pick sides, the issuer of second-ranked stablecoin by market capitalization ruled out BUSD and USDC as securities. 

The stablecoin issuer submitted that the tokens pegged to a sovereign currency of equivalent value do not qualify as securities. In a Thursday September 28 filing to the court, the classification of stablecoin as security was faulted. 

Circle Amicus Brief Defends Existence of Stablecoin 

Circle’s submission on Thursday weighed on the SEC’s lawsuit initiated in mid-2023 alleged that Binance offered tokens labelled unregistered securities. In its filing in the Washington DC district court, the amicus brief from Circle distanced stablecoins from being securities. 

Circle declared its impartiality, though it is a known USD Coin (USDC) issuer. The brief indicated that the Circle’s stablecoin ranks second largest by market capitalization of $26 billion, per CoinGecko data. It observed that the SEC’s argument in the case against Binance could affect the entire stablecoins segment. 

The Gary Gensler-led securities watchdog filed a lawsuit against Binance, alleging the crypto exchange and its chief executive, Changpeng Zhao, run illegal operations in the US. Besides, the SEC pressed charges, claiming the duo misused customer funds. A review of the court filing shows the SEC’s enforcement action wrapped up the holding entity for the Binance.US – BAM Management.

Circle’s decision to file an amicus brief before the Washington DC court arises from the allegation against Binance that it offered unregistered securities. The financial watchdog identified Binance-branded stablecoin (BUSD), formerly issued by the embattled New York-based Paxos, to illustrate the unregistered securities. Including the token classified as a stablecoin alongside the Binance native token – Binance Coin (BNB) would have ramifications across the entire segment.  

Circle submitted that the SEC’s enforcement action to sue the Binance market was the initial instance the securities watchdog labelled stablecoins as securities. Circle revealed that an outcome potentially implicating Binance and BUSD could result in outsized legal and practical stakes in the segment. 

When assessed alone, Circle argued that payment stablecoins lack the essential features to qualify as an investment contract. Circle referenced the agency’s four-pillar approach to ascertain if any offering warrants the regulator’s oversight.

Circle Dismisses Stablecoin Label as Investment Contract

Circle reviews SEC’s perspective that the core element of determining whether the offering is a security involves when there exists a reasonable expectation of profits. Circle indicated that stablecoins are redeemed at constant values; hence, they hardly satisfy this standard on their own.

Circle reviewed the SEC’s allegations that the context of BUSD offering to the investors is central to meeting the standard. The regulator complaint observed that Binance marketed the BUSD as a product capable of generating returns relative to a specific percentage yield. 

Circle’s attorney pointed out that the SEC did not submit that the stablecoins in a stand-alone assessment qualify as a security. Contrastingly, the attorney notes that the SEC submitted that Binance undertook additional actions that transformed BUSD sakes into an investment contract. 

Circle submitted that stablecoin does not mirror financial instruments labelled as securities even when serving as payment vehicles. Circle indicated that an individual cannot utilize a stock certificate to purchase pizza, hence, stablecoin utility lies in payments. 

SEC’s Profiled as Hindrance to Stablecoin Legislation

Circle’s submission came when Representative Ritchie Torres of New York questioned SEC’s Gary Gensler on the hypothetical qualification of whether digitized Pokémon cards are security. The press relates to the awareness that certain stablecoins uniquely place the digital wrapper around the sovereign currency, such as the US dollar. 

The regulator’s opinion of the process transforms the offer into a security played out during the SEC’s chair appearance in the House Finance Committee hearing. It relates to the pronouncement by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chair Rostin Behnam termed stablecoins as commodities. 

The CFTC chair likened stablecoins to poker chips often utilized to lock potential profits. The stablecoin classification attracted Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell to suggest that their regulation should match the approach deployed in 2021 to money market and bank deposits. 

The amicus brief by Circle coincides with a period when lawmakers are evaluating the viable stablecoins’ regulation. Blockchain Association chief executive Kristin Smith admitted that the ongoing bipartisan conversation signals a pathway to have the legislation in 2023. 

Written by
Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship, a crypto writing maestro, captivates with his astute analyses of blockchain phenomena. Synthesizing the dynamic world of digital currencies into insightful prose, Don's articles are a beacon for enthusiasts and professionals. His expertise establishes him as a definitive voice in crypto journalism.

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