Though Coinbase’s (COIN) current revenue from staking is relatively small, there is potential for speedy growth if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) doesn’t crack down on the service altogether.
Speaking one day after his agency extracted from Kraken a $30 million fine and an agreement to shut down its staking-as-a-service operation for U.S. customers, SEC Chair Gary Gensler warned other platforms to “take note,” hinting at possible further investigations into other U.S.-based crypto exchanges.
Coinbase – which offers its own staking business – could be one of them. Indeed, its shares fell 14% on Thursday following the Kraken news and are lower by another 3% on Friday.
Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal on Thursday argued his exchange’s staking business is “fundamentally different” from Kraken’s, which he described as a “yield product.” Nevertheless, there’s plenty of speculation the SEC could be coming for all staking platforms.
Only a very small percentage of Coinbase’s revenue currently comes from its staking product, which means that the impact would be relatively low, said Needham’s John Todaro in a report on Friday. However, he added, staking has high potential for future growth and could potentially be a substantial revenue stream by the end of the year.
Todara noted that of roughly 20 million ether (ETH) in custody on Coinbase only 2.1 million are currently being staked. He thinks staking revenue for the exchange in 2023 could top $400 million if the SEC doesn’t get in the way.
Representatives for Coinbase didn’t reply to a request for comment by CoinDesk, but analysts at the company wrote in a report that the shut down of Kraken’s services will likely affect the “pace of staking growth going forward.”
The team at JPMorgan is somewhat in agreement with Coinbase’s Grewal, saying the SEC charges against Kraken seem to be against specific parts of that exchange’s service rather than proof-of-stake as a consensus mechanism.
“While Coinbase does not seem to see an immediate threat to its Earn program as a result of yesterday’s settlement, our sense is that the market believes yesterday’s SEC action is not a one-off event,” the JPMorgan analyst added. “Accordingly, the bigger question for Coinbase and its peers moving forward will be around what other products and services the agency may seek to regulate next, with near-term headline uncertainty spooking investors.”