Posted on Entrepreneur.com: Kevin O'Leary on Leading and Innovating to Build a Better Digital Asset Marketplace (entrepreneur.com)
Our Full Length Interview: Kevin O'Leary & Ben Samaroo
In an exclusive interview, the 'Shark Tank' investor explains the changes and movements being made towards a regulated cryptocurrency market.
The crypto market is expected to grow to $32B USD by 2027 and with trillions of dollars sitting idle in the global economy, all eyes are on the debates happening in the US right now as committees ramp up their discussions on regulations.
This brought me to Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, strategic investor in WonderFi, which provides novice users with a simple way to buy crypto on regulated exchanges like BitBuy and recently acquired Coinberry, earn interest and track performance, while maintaining full control and custody of their assets. I reached out to O’Leary, as my interest in how talks are progressing and how the team at WonderFi continue to build the platform in preparation for decisions as they come are going. 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.” With so many eyes not only watching how the crypto market is trending, the splashy headlines and of course 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 continues to build, particularly within the past 12 months; a shift in why are we talking about regulating to cracking down on how do we regulate. President Biden signed an executive order in March 2022 for the Federal Reserve to explore whether they should create their own digital currency. Saying at the time “That will 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 on the US without a doubt. The shift on Capitol Hill is profound says O’Leary. “The issue is not bi-partisan with both sides eager to be present and fully engaged in full room discussions on where policy is headed.” This in itself is telling. You will find O’Leary exactly there amongst the policy makers advocating for regulation.
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 Kevin saw in crypto that many of us missed and still aren’t seeing in this fintech innovation. “Choice, people are tired of the banks and being chained to their rules.”
Dissatisfaction with the banking system is not new, but left without a choice you have no option but to adapt and keep cash flow moving. If there is one thing that O’Leary is known for it is that cash flow is priority one in business. As a CPA, I couldn’t agree with this more.
When I asked why is crypto an opportunity for businesses, he answered with a specific business case. During April his company was in the midst of closing a deal worth millions of dollars when the wire transfer between the US 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?” asked O’Leary. He is right. The bank doesn’t lose your money, they have it. But for a few days it’s disappeared. This happens more often than most would imagine and does not inspire confidence or credibility. But no one fights against the institution.
“Using stablecoin it would have succeeded in minutes and would have saved my team countless hours.” It is inarguable that had this transaction occurred on a regulated crypto platform, like BitBuy or CoinBerry, it would have been protected securely end to end using the Blockchain technology that is the basis of strength that crypto presents and makes it attractive to many and provides the control we require and would have provided a seamless transaction minus the rigidity that comes along with traditional banking.
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, as Kevin put it, that “crypto is ran by rogue cowboys in the Wild West.”
Understanding the technology inspires confidence. WonderFi is addressing the issues that people have with Web3. The WonderFi team is building a regulated and carefully curated ecosystem under the helm of the Ben Samaroo and the entire executive team. They aren’t lobbying just to buy and sell crypto; they are building a platform where users have access to all the tools needed to be supported throughout this journey. This includes financial literacy, which is something that Kevin is a vocal advocate for. You have to understand finance in order to be successful and that is an essential part of the user experience within the WonderFi platform that will encourage and inspire confidence for its investors and users.
The greatest myth surrounding crypto that continues according to O’Leary, “that compliance does not exist today.” WonderFi acquired both BitBuy and Coinberry, regulated crypto exchanges in Canada, integral to the success of building a confidence inspiring ecosystem is being a leader in compliance and all of the T&C’s that come along with being the pioneer in a regulated crypto market. It isn’t a matter of can you regulate but how you do it. O’Leary and the WonderFi are leading the way to bring it to the broader market.
Make no mistake, Kevin is confident that as talks continue to progress on Capitol Hill that the global markets are watching and eagerly awaiting and that there are trillions of dollars that will come into play. Regulation in the US is the signal that the global finance world is idly standing by and waiting for.
O’Leary continues to advocate for choice and compliance while ensuring that he along with the WonderFi team are building and investing in technology that invokes confidence in its users and supports the innovation in fintech.