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Morning Blast: SEC Tries to Kill US Crypto; China Launches First Electric Container Ship

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Regulatory agencies around the world are trying to get their arms around the cryptocurrency market. It has not been smooth sailing, and the water is only getting rougher.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Coinbase Global CEO Brian Armstrong said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked the company to stop trading all cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin before it filed suit against the company in early June. While the SEC has never officially indicated whether cryptocurrencies are securities, the agency has recently begun to demonstrate that while Bitcoin may not be a security, virtually every other token is and must be delisted from the Coinbase exchange unless and until it is registered and regulated.

If that were ultimately to happen, the crypto industry in the United States would likely evaporate, Armstrong told the Financial Times.

In its lawsuit, the SEC charged the crypto exchange with “operating its crypto asset trading platform as an unregistered national securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency.” Armstrong told the Financial Times that before the SEC filed its lawsuit, it asked the company to stop trading all cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin. According to Armstrong:

[The SEC] came back to us, and they said . . . we believe every asset other than bitcoin is a security. And, we said, well how are you coming to that conclusion, because that’s not our interpretation of the law. And they said, we’re not going to explain it to you, you need to delist every asset other than bitcoin. …

We really didn’t have a choice at that point, delisting every asset other than bitcoin, which by the way is not what the law says, would have essentially meant the end of the crypto industry in the US. It kind of made it an easy choice . . . let’s go to court and find out what the court says.

The SEC and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates commodities trading, have both claimed responsibility for regulating the crypto industry. Of the two, the industry prefers the lighter touch of the CFTC.

The SEC declined to comment on Armstrong’s claim that delisting all crypto assets except Bitcoin would kill the crypto industry.

Chinese shipping company Cosco launched a battery-powered container ship last week. The ship, still identified only by its hull number N997, is nearly 400 feet long and capable of carrying 700 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs). Cosco is also building a second battery-powered ship (N998) at its facilities in Yangtze and plans to use the two ships to transport cargo on a 600-mile stretch of the Yangtze River, roughly from Wuhan to Shanghai.

By way of contrast, the world’s largest container ship, the MSC Tessa, can transport 24,000 TEUs and is more than three times longer than N997.

The batteries for the ships will be the size of one TEU and will have a capacity of 50,000 kilowatt-hours, and the ships will swap batteries along their routes.

Theoretically, each ship’s battery could power approximately 1,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans. N997 and N998 will be the first two zero-emissions ever produced.

The world’s merchant shipping fleet is mostly powered by what is known as bunker fuel, the heavy, sticky residue from the refining process. It has a high sulfur content, and container ships release about 140 million metric tons of CO2 in a year. The maritime shipping industry currently accounts for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year.

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