The past 48 hours have been grim for the crypto industry. On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued crypto exchange Binance and its founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao for allegedly violating federal securities laws. The next day, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Coinbase over similar allegations. Later in the afternoon, the SEC sought to freeze assets related to Binance.US, the exchange’s US-based entity.
The crackdown isn’t surprising to some; however, it’s added to the frustration around the lack of policy and regulatory clarity in the United States surrounding crypto. While the lawsuits are so far only against Binance and Coinbase, the entire industry has been shaken up by the news, and the value of tokens named in the filings has plummeted. Some critics hyperbolized that the situation could mark the downfall of crypto.
But those native to the crypto space are familiar with cycles of volatility and regulatory pushback and have urged one another to be outspoken in their support of a decentralized financial future. Since Monday morning, figures across the crypto space have minted Coinbase’s Stand with Crypto non-fungible token (NFT) on minting platform Zora to mark their commitment to crypto while demanding regulatory clarity.
An NFT for Regulatory Clarity
In April, as regulatory fears continued to consume the crypto space following the series of crypto banking collapses, Coinbase rolled out its open-edition mint of the Stand with Crypto NFT. According to its listing on Zora, the commemorative NFT symbolizes the crypto community’s desire for regulatory clarity and commitment to the space despite legal challenges.
After minting the NFT, Twitter users have been called to display a shield emoji in their username in solidarity with the movement.
“We stand united with the crypto community in our efforts to advocate for sensible crypto policy in the U.S.,” a spokesperson for Coinbase told CoinDesk. “The Stand with Crypto commemorative NFT is a symbol of unity for the crypto community – representing our collective stand to protect and promote the potential of crypto in the United States.”
While the Stand with Crypto NFT is free to mint, the site specifies that platform mint fees will be donated to vetted organizations via Crypto Advocacy Round through Gitcoin to support crypto advocacy efforts.
At the time of writing, over 138,000 of the NFTs have been minted. Prominent figures across the NFT and crypto space have minted the NFT so far.
When Zora released the collection in April, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted that he had just minted one of the NFTs.
I just minted Stand with Crypto https://t.co/4T0OWbpCCf
— Brian Armstrong 🛡️ (@brian_armstrong) April 25, 2023
Tuesday night, following the lawsuit, he tweeted the link once again.
Other figures in the space also tweeted shield emojis to underscore their support.
There’s no industry I’d rather work in. What a force for good in the world 🛡️❤️🔥
— Austin Federa | 🛡️ 🇺🇸 (@Austin_Federa) June 7, 2023
Coinbase has been the most compliant exchange and has onboarded millions of people into crypto. I support @brian_armstrong for standing up to the SEC and hope this fight brings more regulatory clarity for the entire space. pic.twitter.com/aGFLhNhXWe
— ZAGABOND.ETH (@ZAGABOND) June 7, 2023
Alex Xu, the founder of popular NFT collection Azuki who goes by Zagabond on Twitter, posted an edit of his profile picture (PFP) with Coinbase shield artwork.
“Coinbase has been the most compliant exchange and has onboarded millions of people into crypto,” Xu said in a tweet. “I support Brian Armstrong for standing up to the SEC and hope this fight brings more regulatory clarity for the entire space.”
However, while sentiment around the shield has mostly been positive, some Twitter users have critiqued Armstrong for using the NFT to virtue signal.
If your CEO tweets this after being sued by the SEC it’s over
“The Stand with Crypto commemorative NFT is a symbol of unity for the crypto community seeking sensible crypto policy. It represents our collective stand to protect and promote the potential of crypto. pic.twitter.com/hROG4fMwMh
— BuccoCapital Guy (@buccocapital) June 7, 2023
“If your CEO tweets this after being sued by the SEC it’s over,” said Twitter user BuccoCapital Guy. “Also, your ‘Stand with Crypto’ NFT hits a little differently when you tweet it from your $113M compound.”