Kevin O'Leary on Leading and Innovating to Build a Better Digital Asset Marketplace
In an exclusive interview, the 'Shark Tank' investor explains the changes and movements being made towards a regulated cryptocurrency market and how it will benefit investors and businesses.
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The crypto market is expected to grow to $32 billion by 2027, and with trillions of dollars sitting idle in the global economy, all eyes are on the debates happening in the U.S. right now as committees ramp up their discussions on regulations.
This brought me to Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary, who is a strategic investor in WonderFi, which provides novice users with a simple way to buy crypto on regulated exchanges like BitBuy and Coinberry, earn interest and track performance while maintaining full control and custody of their assets. I reached out to O'Leary because I was interested in how talks are progressing and how the team at WonderFi continues to build the platform in preparation for big changes. As a consultant who supports businesses to implement digital assets, I knew there was a wealth of knowledge to tap into.
I asked O'Leary how the pressure of this venture is different from any other he has previously been involved in. "The optics, coverage and pressure are tremendous," he says. With so many eyes not only watching how the crypto market is trending, but also seeing the splashy headlines and the sensational storytelling that makes for great streaming, the burden of getting accurate information out to the public and in front of policy makers is very real.
O'Leary spares no time in affirming the talent that is the executive team at WonderFi and the work that they are doing in building an ecosystem that, coupled with policy and strong regulations, will alleviate much of the artificial news and noise surrounding crypto.
In my conversation with O'Leary, we jumped right into the status of discussions with policy makers. Momentum has continued to build, particularly over the past 12 months. President Biden signed an executive order in March 2022 for the Federal Reserve to explore if it should create its own digital currency, saying at the time that it would "help position the U.S. to keep playing a leading role in the innovation and governance of the digital assets ecosystem at home and abroad, in a way that protects consumers, is consistent with our democratic values and advances U.S. global competitiveness.:
"All eyes are on the U.S. without a doubt," O'Leary says. "The shift on Capitol Hill is profound. The issue is not bipartisan, with both sides eager to be present and fully engaged in full room discussions on where policy is headed."
Vision for Change
Cryptocurrency has been swarmed with negative attention in mainstream media, social media and numerous scandalous documentaries. I was curious to know what it was that O'Leary saw in crypto that many of us missed and still aren't seeing. "Choice," he says, "people are tired of the banks and being chained to their rules."
Dissatisfaction with the banking system is not new, but most people have no option but to adapt and keep cash flow moving. If there's one thing that O'Leary is known for, it's his belief that cash flow is priority number one in business.
But O'Leary has experienced firsthand the frustration that can come with using the traditional banking system. In April, when his company was in the midst of closing a deal worth millions of dollars, the wire transfer between the U.S. and Canada was lost for multiple days, requiring multiple associates to work for hours to unwind the transaction and "find" the funds to secure and close the deal. Ultimately all was sorted, but should this happen? "Who is liable for interest lost, deals that don't get executed?" O'Leary asks. He's right. The bank doesn't lose your money, but for a few days it's disappeared. This happens more often than most would imagine and does not inspire confidence or credibility, but few fight against the institution.
"Using stablecoin, it would have succeeded in minutes and would have saved my team countless hours," O'Leary says. It is inarguable that had this transaction occurred on a regulated crypto platform, it would have been protected securely end-to-end using the Blockchain technology that is the basis of the strength that crypto presents, makes it attractive to many and provides the control we require.
Building crypto confidence with a complete infrastructure
Once we explain how crypto can create opportunity, we still have the hurdle of inspiring confidence, because of the perception that "crypto is run by rogue cowboys in the Wild West," as O'Leary puts it.
Understanding the technology inspires confidence, which is why WonderFi places such a heavy emphasis on education. It makes O'Leary's involvement a natural one — he's long been a vocal advocate for financial literacy.
O'Leary is confident that, as talks continue to progress on Capitol Hill, soon trillions more dollars from around the world will come into play in the crypto market. Regulation in the U.S. is the signal that the global finance world is waiting for.
O'Leary continues to advocate for choice and compliance while ensuring that he and the WonderFi team are building and investing in technology that invokes confidence in its users and supports the innovation in fintech.