Abra crypto firm settles with US states over licensing violations

  • Abra and its CEO settle with 25 US states for operating without required licences.
  • The firm agrees to refund up to $82.1 million to customers and cease certain operations.

OUR TAKE
Abra’s settlement is a critical moment for the crypto industry, highlighting the necessity for regulatory adherence to protect consumers and maintain market integrity. While it’s disappointing to see such violations, the proactive stance of regulators offers a glimmer of hope for a more secure and transparent crypto environment.
–Doris Du, BTW reporter

Cryptocurrency investment platform Abra has reached a settlement with financial regulators from 25 US states after operating without the necessary state licences.

What happened

Abra and its CEO, Bill Barhydt, were found to be operating without the required licences in 25 US states. This resulted in enforcement actions and the firm agreeing to stop accepting crypto from US customers into its products and services last year. Abra has now agreed to refund up to $82.1 million (£64.3 million) to customers as part of the settlement. The states involved, including Washington, Texas, Georgia, and Ohio, chose to forgo monetary penalties to ensure customers are fully repaid.

Also read: US CFTC investigates Jump Trading’s crypto activities

Also read: AI revolutionises crypto crime: Elliptic report

Why it’s important

This settlement underscores the importance of regulatory compliance in the cryptocurrency industry. State financial regulators, such as the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), emphasised their commitment to consumer protection and the enforcement of licensing requirements. The agreement also includes a provision barring CEO Bill Barhydt from participating in any money transmitter or money services business in these states for five years.

Opinion

The situation with Abra highlights the growing pains of the cryptocurrency sector as it grapples with regulatory frameworks. While the decentralised nature of crypto is one of its main attractions, it also poses significant risks when companies operate outside established legal boundaries. Consumers need assurance that their investments are secure and that companies are held accountable.

For many, this settlement is a reassuring step towards greater oversight and protection in the crypto market. It’s a reminder that even innovative financial technologies must adhere to legal standards to ensure fairness and transparency. It’s disheartening to see firms face such issues, but it’s also encouraging to see regulators stepping up to protect consumers.

Doris-Du

Doris Du

Doris Du is an intern reporter at BTW Media. She graduated with a master's degree in Translating and Interpreting from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Send tips to d.du@btw.media.

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