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Coinbase announced that it will restart XRP trading on its crypto exchange following a federal judge's ruling on Thursday morning that, except for when the token's been sold to institutional investors, its sale does not constitute the selling of a security.
XRP isn't available just yet, though.
"Trading is anticipated to begin later today, if liquidity conditions are met," Coinbase wrote in its CoinbaseAssets Twitter account. "Once sufficient supply of this asset is established trading on our XRP-USD, XRP-USDT and XRP-EUR trading pairs will launch in phases. Support for XRP may be restricted in some supported jurisdictions."
Update: Trading is now expected to begin in ~45 minutes, on or after 1:45 PT today, if liquidity conditions are met.
— Coinbase Assets 🛡️ (@CoinbaseAssets) July 13, 2023
To be clear, Judge Analisa Torres wrote in a footnote of her Ripple ruling this morning that she could not make a ruling on secondary sales of XRP, like those that take place on exchanges, "because that question is not properly before the Court."
Even so, Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal said on Twitter that the company feels comfortable allowing XRP trading again. "We've carefully reviewed our analysis," he wrote. "It's time to relist."
In her decision, Torres ruled that Ripple's XRP token does not immediately qualify as a security when it's been offered through programmatic sales to the public or distributed to employees of Ripple Labs. But $728 million worth of contracts to sell XRP to institutional investors did constitute unregistered securities sales, since those investors "would have purchased XRP with the expectation that they would derive profits from Ripple’s efforts."
Attorneys and industry players have been closely scrutinizing Ripple's case over the last two years. Recently it garnered even more attention as onlookers use it to gauge how the SEC might fair in its lawsuit against Coinbase.
On June 6, the company was hit by an SEC lawsuit that alleged it was operating an unregistered securities exchange that was dealing with unregistered securities. Coinbase rejected the accusations, and the case is beginning to go through its pre-trial motions.
At its core, the two cases are bound together by the central question of whether or not the digital tokens in question can be considered securities. It is for this reason that Coinbase moved to back Ripple last year in the case. With the court’s ruling on XRP, legal commentators were quick to note how this decision would be useful to Coinbase.
“The ruling that XRP is not itself an investment contract is a significant blow to the SEC's case against @Coinbase and the other crypto exchanges,” tweeted James Murphy, also known by Twitter pseudonym MetaLawMan, after the decision was announced.
Murphy noted that the decision by a district court was not a "binding precedent," he noted that it will be a relevant ruling for the judges in the Coinbase case to consider going forward.
Coinbase, which trades on the Nasdaq under the COIN ticker, has hit a high-point for the year, trading at $104.30 at the time of writing—up 210% from the start of January. It’s still a far cry from it’s all-time high of $342.98, which it saw during the fall 2021 crypto market bull run.
Meanwhile, XRP’s price has gone off like a rocket. Its price has surged 71% since the judge’s ruling was announced this morning. As of this writing, it was trading at $0.80 and had become the fourth largest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $41.6 billion, according to CoinGecko. That means it’s got a larger market cap than stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) and Binance Coin (BNB).
Still, investor excitement has already cooled a bit. Earlier in the day, XRP was trading at $0.86. The news has also pushed Bitcoin to its highest level since May 2022. On Thursday afternoon it was trading at $31,330.10, up 3% in the past 24 hours.