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US crypto exchanges continued relocation campaign abroad

Facing a toughening regulatory environment, crypto exchanges based in the US have begun flirting with the prospect of foreign headquarters.

a man speaking into a microphone

Brad Garlinghouse/Twitter.

American fintech darlings, Ripple and Coinbase, flocked to the UAE this week both bringing with them the commercial draw of potentially relocating their operations to the Middle Eastern business hub.

Ripple is expanding in Dubai. With 20 per cent of our customers based in MENA and clear regulatory regimes being developed, it’s no surprise that Dubai is emerging as a key global financial hub,” Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO announced, alongside, for the first time publicly saying the company has spent $200 million fighting an SEC lawsuit.

The regulatory environment for US fintech has anything but lightened – the SEC has yet to issue guidance to increasingly impatient companies, the FDIC poking around and as of last week, the Biden administration is proposing a tax on crypto mining.

“I find it, as a company that started in the United States, as someone who's a US citizen, it's sad,” Garlinghouse said, “I have sadness about this.”

Ripple’s comments added insult to injury for those hoping for an American crypto base as just earlier yesterday Coinbase’s CEO, Brian Armstrong, said they are considering UAE as a strategic hub.

“The region is standing-out as a leader in the development of a web3 ecosystem, making it an attractive location to consider investing in,” Coinbase wrote, saying it was the first trip but certainly wouldn’t be their last.

But, picking and choosing between locations that may seem regulatory appealing, may get smaller as the G20 and the Financial Stability Board move to improve coordination on global decentralized finance.

Venture capitalists have begun throwing their hat into the ring as well – on Friday, Andreessen Horowitz, or a16z, filed a 27-page document to the SEC outlining a need to safeguard assets. General partners from the firm, Katherine Boyle and David Ulevitch, in the firm took to the Wall Street Journal’s Op-Ed pages arguing that Washington can cooperate with the private sector; just look at SpaceX.

“The US is getting passed not just a little bit but by a lot,” Garlinghouse said onstage at the Dubai Fintech Summit, “the tough thing about this is you have a country that I think has put politics ahead of policy and that’s not a good decision if you’re trying to invest in the economy.”

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