Kevin O’Leary on US crypto regulation: ‘We need to catch up with the rest of the world’

Shark Tank star and O’Shares Investment Advisers Chairman Kevin O’Leary predicts that one day blockchain and cryptocurrency will represent the 12th sector of the S&P 500 and is "very confident" sensible government crypto regulation will happen before mass adoption.

“The pace and acceleration of policy proposals coming out of bipartisan Senate committees and the Hill has never been greater” Kevin O’Leary said on Yahoo Finance Live “We've got the Lummis bill. We have the Haggerty bill for stablecoin, the Toomey bill for stablecoin. We have the POTUS executive order, all within six weeks of each other, all discussing the future of cryptocurrencies.”

Cryptocurrency regulation has varied internationally, ranging from outright bans to early cases of bitcoin becoming a country's national currency — as El Salvador announced in 2021. Fifteen countries currently ban bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and deem them illegal in any shape or form, according to data from Cryptimi.

On the opposite end, Canada allows bitcoin ETFs, ethereum ETFs and has licensed a cross-country cryptocurrency dealer.

“There's so much innovation going on in different geographies with regulators at different stages of releasing policy on this, that we have fallen behind in the U.S.,” O’Leary said.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to introduce regulation for crypto exchanges, but SEC Chair Gary Gensler is hopeful to formalize guidelines this year. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve published a research and analysis white paper which called attention to the price volatility, limitations on transaction throughput and energy footprint of cryptocurrencies, suggesting the Fed may favor a Central Bank Digital Currency or stablecoin.

Bangkok, Thailand - 1 July 2021: Cryptocurrency on Binance trading app, Bitcoin BTC with altcoin digital coin crypto currency, BNB, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, defi p2p decentralized fintech market
Cryptocurrency on Binance trading app, Bitcoin BTC with altcoin digital coin an dother cryptocurrency. Credit: Getty (Chinnapong via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the benefits of cryptocurrency’s underlying technology — blockchain — are being heralded by technologists and the finance sector.

JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon had historically bashed bitcoin, but in his latest annual shareholder letter, he said, “Decentralized finance and blockchain are real, new technologies that can be deployed in both public and private fashion, permissioned or not.”

Major investment firms have also been pouring capital into blockchain and cryptocurrency unicorns.

O’Leary commented on one such recent deal, “The announcement of BlackRock and Fidelity putting $400 million into USDC, the Circle product — that's unprecedented for such staid financial services companies to make a bet that large on cryptocurrency.”

Bradley Smith is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thebradsmith.

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