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Crypto Exchange Gemini Eyes Derivatives Trading Outside the US

2 mins
Updated by Michael Washburn
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In Brief

  • Gemini, launched by the Winklevoss twins in 2015, seeks greener pastures for crypto trading.
  • The move comes amid a vigorous SEC campaign to deter investing in cryptocurrencies.
  • Coinbase and Bittrex have also signaled their discouragement with the US regulatory climate and looked abroad.
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As the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry rolls on, Gemini Trust Company is the latest firm to announce plans for international expansion.

The company, founded in 2015 by billionaire twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has plans to open a derivatives exchange in a foreign jurisdiction, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Moving Shop

The twins had high hopes for Gemini Trust Company, reportedly lending it $100 million out of their own personal fortunes. But Gemini operates in a climate where high-profile SEC actions against crypto operators feed the sense of some investors and traders that it is better to avoid crypto.

In January, the SEC charged Gemini Trust Company and another entity, Genesis Global Capital, for securities law violations. The agency claimed they had made unregistered securities sales through the Gemini Earn crypto asset lending program.

According to the SEC, not only did Gemini Trust Company charge agent fees running as high as 4.29 percent, but the management of Gemini Earn raised some serious issues. In November 2022, Genesis announced that Gemini Earn investors could not withdraw their crypto assets, citing liquidity problems. The market was wild. This was bad news for 340,000 Gemini Earn investors with some $900 million invested.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler publicly slammed Genesis and Gemini for their lack of disclosures and compliance.

“It’s not optional, it’s the law,” Gensler said.

Now, the Winklevoss twins appear to be the latest industry players to react to the tone of SEC guidance. Not to mention the harshness of enforcement actions. They have decided to move a chunk of their operations offshore. And not deal with the SEC.

The news about Gemini is the second announcement in the last few days of the re-shoring of crypto operations amid the regulatory vendetta.

Late last week, Coinbase won a license from the Bermuda Monetary Authority. This is a big step in the international growth of Coinbase. And the freeing of at least some of its operations from the SEC’s purview.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has praised the UK’s pursuit of “sensible crypto regulation.” He has implicitly contrasted this mild approach with that of US regulators.

SEC Charges Bittrex

Gemini Trust Company and Coinbase are not alone. At the end of March, Bittrex CEO and co-founder Richie Lai announced his exchange’s exit from the United States. In his March 31 announcement, Lai blamed regulatory conditions for making a US base of operations tough.

Lai stated, “Regulatory requirements are often unclear and enforced without appropriate discussion or input, resulting in an uneven competitive landscape.”

“Operating in the US is no longer feasible,” Lai said.

SEC Chair Gensler spoke last week before a US House committee about his opposition to cryptocurrencies.

Almost every week brings news of a high-profile SEC action. Only weeks after Lai’s announcement, the SEC moved to charge Bittrex for alleged securities law issues. The agency claimed that six Bittrex tokens were securities and therefore were trading without proper registration. Shortly after the SEC’s announcement of its action, the prices of four of the tokens fell.

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Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn is a New York-based managing editor who joined BeInCrypto in March 2023. Over his career, he written extensively about the corporate legal world and the intersection of finance and law, has produced thousands of articles and features, and has mentored many reporters and researchers finding their way in a fast-changing industry.