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Cathie Wood says Binance legal woes good for Coinbase

Catherine Wood, chief executive officer of ARK Investment Management LLC, speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami on April 7, 2022.  (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg)
By Ainsley Thomson, Haidi Lun and Shery Ahn Bloomberg

Cathie Wood, CEO of the investment firm ARK Investment Management LLC, said Binance’s U.S. legal problems will benefit its rival Coinbase Global.

The world’s two biggest cryptocurrency exchanges are facing a regulatory crackdown including allegations this week filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that they are peddling unregistered securities.

“We have Binance under increasing regulatory scrutiny for more criminal activities, fraud being one of them, therefore we have the competition for Coinbase disappearing, so that’s a good thing longer term for Coinbase.” Wood told Bloomberg Television on Thursday.

U.S. regulators have not filed criminal charges against Binance or any of its representatives.

In March, the U.S. regulator for derivatives filed a civil enforcement action charging Binance Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao and three of the exchange’s affiliated entities “with numerous violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations.”

Binance described the CFTC action as “unexpected and disappointing,” with Zhao saying in a blog post on the company’s website that “the complaint appears to contain an incomplete recitation of facts, and we do not agree with the characterization of many of the issues alleged in the complaint.”

Wood said Coinbase isn’t accused of any criminal activity.

“There are questions about what’s a security, about staking, those are the two questions that Coinbase and Binance are facing, but most of the other questions about Binance have nothing to do with Coinbase,” she said.

Her comments come after her funds on Tuesday boosted their holdings of Coinbase as shares slumped following the SEC’s action, with three Ark Investment Management funds, including Wood’s flagship Ark Innovation ETF, buying 419,324 shares.

Ark is the fourth-largest holder of Coinbase and has been adding to its stake on dips for nearly a year.

Wood said she’s still confident in her $1 million target for Bitcoin, saying the more uncertainty and volatility there is in global economies the more Ark’s confidence increases in the token.

“We’ve just been through an inflationary scare, we think it was very supply chain driven and Bitcoin is a hedge against inflation,” she said.

“We also believe now that the bigger risk is deflation, not inflation. Why would Bitcoin do well in that circumstance? It will do well because it’s an antidote to counterparty risk in the traditional financial system.”

Wood has faced criticism after her flagship ETF cut its holding in Nvidia in January and missed out on an epic rally that made the chipmaker briefly cross $1 trillion in market valuation.Wood has defended her decision, citing concerns over the computer-chip industry’s boom-bust cycle.

Wood, an ardent Tesla bull, said the electric vehicle maker is one of the biggest artificial intelligence plays around.

“Tesla with its four-to-five million robots roaming around the world is collecting more data every day and has collected more miles of real-world driving data than all of the other auto companies and technology companies around the world combined,” Wood said later Thursday in a video address to the Morgan Stanley Australia Summit in Sydney.

Tesla’s AI project would help scale autonomous taxi projects, she said.

“We believe that this autonomous taxi platform opportunity will evolve from zero in revenues today to eight to 10 trillion in 2030,” Wood said. “That’s nearly half the size of the U.S. economy and that’s the global opportunity.”