In the last day, an unconfirmed number of Coinbase users have received emails from America’s top crypto exchange, informing them that information linked to their customer accounts might soon be shared with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) after Coinbase was served with a subpoena. 

While Coinbase has declined to publicly comment on the subpoena thus far, or what exact data it pertains to, the legal order appears to be connected to a matter concerning another crypto exchange: Bybit, the Dubai-based company founded in 2018 by Ben Zhou.  

A person familiar with the matter confirmed to Decrypt that Coinbase did indeed send such emails out to customers this week, but would not elaborate on what exact information was requested by the CFTC, how that information pertains to Bybit, or how many customers might be impacted by the subpoena. 

In its letter to affected customers, Coinbase wrote that it might protest the subpoena in court before an apparent November 30 deadline. However, a person familiar with the matter told Decrypt that Coinbase is working with the CFTC to determine what data may soon be sent over to the federal agency—though the company is reportedly working to limit the scope of the data shared as much as possible.

On Twitter, Coinbase users who received the notice questioned why they were now in the federal government’s crosshairs. Some speculated that only crypto holders who used both Coinbase and Bybit were targeted by the subpoena, potentially as part of a growing case against Bybit. 

But multiple subpoena notice emails sent to customers by Coinbase, and reviewed by Decrypt, were issued to users who say they’ve never used Bybit or created accounts with the exchange. When asked by Decrypt about these customers, Coinbase declined comment. The CFTC declined comment when reached by Decrypt.


The CFTC has previously sued crypto exchanges for failing to institute know-your-customer (KYC) requirements, for operating illegal digital assets derivatives exchanges, and for offering futures trading without registration.

Just last week, as one part of Binance’s historic settlement with multiple U.S. government agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, the exchange agreed to pay a $1.35 billion fine for violating those specific CFTC guidelines. 

Bybit only began mandating KYC standards across all of its services in May of this year, according to the company’s website. While connecting American Coinbase users’ accounts to Bybit accounts could be one way for the CFTC to prove that American users were able to access Bybit’s products and services without providing key identifying information, the agency has not yet filed any lawsuit against the exchange.

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to note that the CFTC declined comment.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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