“Confusing” regulations in the U.S. will push more crypto companies to leave the U.S. as firms like Ripple look to hire and invest outside the country, the CEO of blockchain services company Ripple told CNBC in an exclusive interview.
“Europe really has provided leadership and countries like UAE … the growth you’re seeing … even the U.K. and Singapore — they’re providing the clarity about how they will regulate these digital assets,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said Thursday.
“And that allows through those rules of the road that allow entrepreneurs, investors to engage constructively with regulators,” Garlinghouse said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“Frankly, it’s why you’re seeing entrepreneurship and investment flowing into other jurisdictions — and certainly Europe has been a significant beneficiary of the confusion that has existed in the U.S.,” he added.
His comments come after the crypto firm announced Wednesday it had bought Metaco, a Swiss crypto custody services firm, at a time when U.S. regulators are cracking down harshly on companies like Ripple and crypto exchange Coinbase.
The Metaco acquisition is expected to expand Ripple’s suite of products and allow it to access an attractive clientele that includes Citi and BNP Paribas.
“We think Metaco is a perfect fit, from where we’re trying to grow our customers today,” said Garlinghouse.
Crypto firms have threatened to leave the U.S. in a bid to send a signal to regulators that the country may miss out on a key technological innovation.
Ripple is fighting a lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has accused Ripple, Garlinghouse and the firm’s co-founder Chris Larsen, of breaching securities laws by selling XRP without first registering it with the SEC. XRP is the native cryptocurrency on the Ripple network.
In April, Coinbase took legal action against the SEC after months of silence from the regulator regarding the crypto exchange’s July 2022 petition on whether existing securities rule-making processes could be extended to the crypto industry.
When asked about the bankruptcy of the crypto giant FTX, Garlinghouse said in the interview that “what happened in FTX is called a fraud” and “is not specific to crypto.”
“I think it’s fair to say the U.S. has made it as confusing as possible as to what the rules of the road are for the crypto industry. As you described, the U.S. SEC has really been at the forefront of that confusion,” said Garlinghouse.
“Unfortunately, that has encouraged companies like Ripple to invest more outside of the U.S.,” said Garlinghouse, adding that 95% of Ripple’s customers are non-U.S. and most of Ripple’s hiring this year will be outside of the U.S.
Garlinghouse said Ripple is in a good financial position. Ripple funded the Metaco purchase with $250 million of cash off its own balance sheet, according to him.
“Ripple has a very strong balance sheet and we are leaning in and playing offense and this is just an example of that,” said Garlinghouse.
“Be greedy when others are fearful and be fearful when others are greedy,” he said, quoting investor billionaire Warren Buffett.
On Ripple’s listing plans, Garlinghouse said they are “not in a hurry to list” and “not in need to raise more capital.”
“So if we were to consider [to list], it would be at a time and place that made sense. We wouldn’t want to do that unless we felt like it actually enhances the ability to grow the business, the customer experience,” he added.