Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is reportedly making strides toward expanding its services beyond digital assets to include trading in U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The company is said to be gearing up for this expansion, planning to introduce trading services in the U.S. and the United Kingdom under the umbrella of a new division named Kraken Securities. According to a Bloomberg report from September 27, 2023, this move is expected to materialize sometime in 2024.
For Kraken to venture into the realm of traditional stocks and ETFs, it would need to secure the necessary licensing from regulatory bodies, particularly the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the relevant financial regulators in the U.K. Notably, the report suggests that Kraken has already acquired a broker-dealer license from FINRA, marking a significant step toward fulfilling the regulatory requirements for its planned expansion.
This potential move by Kraken mirrors a trend seen in the industry, with other platforms like FTX US, albeit now defunct, announcing similar intentions to delve into stock trading approximately a year prior. While some apps, such as Robinhood, successfully provide a combination of stock and cryptocurrency trading services, it is highlighted that most U.S.-based digital asset exchanges have predominantly focused on crypto-related offerings.
The reported expansion comes on the heels of Kraken’s recent licensing achievements. On September 26, the exchange revealed that it had secured licenses in both Spain and Ireland, allowing the company to offer digital asset services in these regions. However, amidst these positive developments, Kraken is currently entangled in a legal matter. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has filed a civil suit against the exchange, alleging non-compliance with design and distribution obligations related to one of its trading products.
Furthermore, Kraken has had to contend with regulatory challenges in the United States. In February of an unspecified year, the exchange reached an agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges. As part of this agreement, Kraken consented to pay $30 million, covering disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties. Additionally, the settlement compelled Kraken to cease its staking services and programs for U.S. clients.
Despite these legal hurdles, Kraken seems determined to broaden its scope and diversify its offerings beyond the cryptocurrency realm. The move into U.S. stock trading and ETFs aligns with a strategic shift that aims to cater to a broader audience and tap into the potential of traditional financial markets. As the crypto industry continues to evolve, Kraken’s foray into conventional financial instruments underscores the ongoing convergence of digital and traditional financial services.