This article asks if cryptocurrencies are more similar to stocks or to gold. I’d argue they are more like diamonds where the supply is privately controlled. Coinbase faces a class-action lawsuit that argues it is dealing in unregistered securities, a position the SEC has also signaled:
“U.S. laws impose meticulous regulations and burdensome disclosure requirements on issuers and intermediaries that sell securities, a category of assets that includes stocks and bonds. They also create potentially crippling liabilities for anyone who skirts the law.
Cryptocurrency platforms have sought to minimize headaches by arguing that the tokens they list in the U.S. are commodities, like gold, which have no full-time federal regulator.
For trading venues that allow U.S. investors to buy and sell scores of digital tokens, the cost of getting it wrong is potentially catastrophic, industry lawyers say.
‘If successful, plaintiffs would have this court effectively freeze the accounts of innocent [Coinbase] users who, by their own choice, transact with one another in these tokens,” Coinbase attorneys wrote in the motion to dismiss the case.’ ”
Coinbase indicates that the assets it holds could be forfeited in bankruptcy which suggests that the owner of the asset is actually Coinbase.