Coinbase rallies more than 60% in same month that FTX and Binance founders brace for prison

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Both Coinbase and Binance still face legal battles with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was noticeably absent from the Binance settlement. Meanwhile, Coinbase executives have floated the idea of leaving the U.S. altogether for a jurisdiction with hard-and-fast rules on crypto, should the company be unable to come to a resolution with the SEC. Wall Street appears to be shrugging off that concern. Analysts at Needham, who recommend buying Coinbase shares, wrote in a report on Nov. 21 that the company “exited the crypto ‘winter’ better positioned than in the prior up cycle.” They also noted that in addition to FTX’s failure and Binance’s retreat, crypto trading platform Bittrex has also exited the market. Bittrex said on Nov. 20, that effective Dec. 4, “all trading activity on Bittrex Global will be disabled,” and it encouraged customers “to log into their account and withdraw assets as soon as possible.” In April, the SEC charged Bittrex and its ex-CEO with operating an unregistered exchange. Yet there may be a new competitive threat on the horizon. U.S. regulators are expected to soon approve the first U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, which would allow investors to buy into digital currency directly through the same mechanism they use to buy stock and bond ETFs. Top asset managers, including BlackRock, WisdomTree and Invesco, have filed applications with the SEC. Regulatory approval would open up many more avenues for people to buy bitcoin. While Coinbase allows investors to buy a variety of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin accounted for 38% of transaction volume in the third quarter and almost the same percentage of revenue. For casual investors who just want some exposure to bitcoin, there will potentially be additional ways to buy, including through their primary online brokerage. JPMorgan Chase analysts wrote last week that crypto ETFs would likely be good for Coinbase in the short term but more problematic as time passes. The initial boost would come from custody revenue tied to the ETFs. Most of the big asset managers jumping into market, including BlackRock, Franklin Templeton and WisdomTree, have picked Coinbase for custody services, which involves the storage and safekeeping of the assets. However, the longer-term concern, according to JPMorgan, is that fewer people will need Coinbase accounts, leading to pricing pressure. “We see many novice investors never going beyond these flagship tokens and thus never needing the services of a Coinbase,” wrote the analysts, who have a neutral rating on the stock and an $80 price target. “We also see the ETF markets as more transparent, efficient and lower cost to execute and we see the potential for a migration to ETFs for cheaper exposure and trading driving Coinbase to lower fees.” WATCH: Former SEC enforcement chief on ‘casualness’ in crypto compliance

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