OKX’s new ad campaign makes a cheeky dig at Coinbase

The seemingly subtle jab reflects a broader divide between crypto companies and their vision for the role of crypto in the global financial system.

OKX's newest marketing campaign.
OKX's newest marketing campaign.

Cryptocurrency exchange OKX is seemingly throwing shade at rival exchange Coinbase in its newly launched global brand campaign titled “The System Needs a Rewrite.” In its latest 60-second commercial, OKX takes aim at the flaws of the traditional finance system, arguing that “the system doesn’t need an update, it needs a rewrite.”

The bold ad by OKX comes after Coinbase’s March campaign called “It’s time to update the system,” where the exchange suggested that traditional financial institutions rely on the inefficient infrastructure that dates back to the pre-internet era but can be fixed by marrying crypto with the old money institutions and individuals. Coinbase insisted the US must embrace web3 innovation to remain competitive, so transparent and clear regulation is a must to keep crypto companies from going offshore.

While Coinbase is banking on a more moderate approach, calling TradFi institutions “an essential part of the traditional finance system,” OKX is taking bold action, suggesting that crypto should eventually replace the broken fiat system, which is compromised and constantly weaponized against certain groups of people.

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“There are two camps of thoughts. One side suggests we update existing systems to create a better world. The other believes we need a system re-write. Our new campaign is a nod to those who believe we need to re-write the system into Web3,” Haider Rafique, Chief Marketing Officer of OKX, said in a press release.

“We envision a world where we all have more control, mobility and various ways to trade our assets. A world where software allows us to be our own bank, to be interoperable and to trade without any intermediaries. We are here to contribute to building this future. This campaign is the preamble to the first-of-its-kind Web3 products we’ll release this year.”

Coinbase, widely regarded as one of the most trustworthy and compliant cryptocurrency exchanges, recently found itself embroiled in legal battles with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that issued the company a Wells notice, signaling that enforcement action may be underway.

Although Coinbase vowed to defend itself in court and even took legal action against the SEC, CEO Brian Armstrong recently hinted that his exchange may exit the US market unless the country changes its approach to crypto regulation. Shortly after, Coinbase announced that it received a license to operate an offshore derivatives exchange in Bermuda.

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If Coinbase is forced outside the US, it would, ironically, do the very thing it warned other exchanges would do under the increased regulatory pressure — leave for offshore jurisdictions, which would ultimately hurt the ordinary users, as it happened with the Bahamas-based FTX.

“While we see other jurisdictions progress, the U.S. seems more focused on turf battles between regulators. No other country in the world has spent as much time and energy trying to convince its citizens that crypto assets are securities,” Armstrong wrote in his op-ed for CNBC.

Following the fallout from the FTX collapse, US regulators are going all tough on crypto firms serving US customers, particularly crypto exchanges. A few recent examples include SEC’s action against Kraken, Huobi’s CEO Justin Sun, and Bittrex.

OKX, the world’s second-largest crypto exchange with more than 50 million users, hasn’t been targeted yet by US regulators as it is not available to users in the United States.