Monday, 27 March 2023

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Is the SEC’s action against BUSD more about Binance than stablecoins?

Is the SEC’s action against BUSD more about Binance than stablecoins?

Binance branded stablecoin, Binance USD (BUSD), is a dollar-backed stablecoin issued by blockchain infrastructure platform Paxos Trust Company, and is the third largest stablecoin after Tether’s (USDT) and Circle’s USD Coin (USDC).

Paxos has claimed in the past that BUSD is fully backed by reserves held in either fiat cash or United States Treasury bills. BUSD was reportedly authorized and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

Paxos partnered with crypto exchange Binance in 2019 and launched the stablecoin, which received approval from the NYDFS. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has stated that the exchange licensed the Binance brand to Paxos, and BUSD is “wholly owned and managed by Paxos.”

However, on Feb. 12, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Wells notice to Paxos — a letter the regulator uses to inform companies of planned enforcement action. The notice alleged that BUSD is an unregistered security. After receiving a Wells notice, the accused is allowed 30 days to respond via a legal brief known as a Wells submission — a chance to argue why charges should not be brought against prospective defendants.

One day later, the NYDFS ordered Paxos to stop minting new BUSD, citing specific unresolved issues around Paxos’ oversight of its relationship with Binance regarding BUSD. Paxos then decided to cut ties with Binance due to regulatory scrutiny, saying they are working with the SEC to resolve the issue constructively.

Binance, on the other hand, hopes the SEC won’t file an enforcement action based on the BUSD saga, telling Cointelegraph:

“The U.S. SEC, hopefully, will not file an enforcement action on this topic. Doing so is not justified by the facts or law. Furthermore, it would undermine the growth and innovation of the U.S. financial technology sector.”

Paxos refused to comment on the issue, citing ongoing talks with the SEC. The company directed Cointelegraph to an internal email with Paxos co-founder Charles Cascarilla reiterating their earlier stance that BUSD is not a security.

The statement from Cascarilla noted that the precedents used to identify securities in the U.S. are known as the Howey test and the Reves test. He stated that BUSD does not meet the criteria to be a security:

“Our stablecoins are always backed by cash and equivalents–dollars and U.S. Treasury bills, but never securities. We are engaged in constructive discussions with the SEC, and we look forward to…

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