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New bitcoin ETFs are adding fuel to customer interest in crypto: Webull CEO

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Webull CEO Anthony Denier joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss crypto, meme stocks, and the company's new partnership with the Brooklyn Nets.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: It's the end of a very, very busy week in the world of crypto. Of course, earlier in the week, the first Bitcoin futures ETF started trading. Today, the second, that's the Valkyrie Bitcoin strategy ETF, it is down. That ProShares ETF is also down and Bitcoin itself is down, as it looks like people are taking a little bit of a breath here.

Let's find out if Anthony Denier is taking a breath here. He's the CEO of WeBull. Anthony, thanks for being here. What kind of demand have you been seeing on your platform for these kind of products and for underlying crypto as well? What kind of flows are you seeing? What are you hearing from customers?

ANTHONY DENIER: Yeah, crypto on our platform. Well, happy Friday, first of all. But crypto on our platform is very, very volatile in terms of how we see the flows come in and out. If crypto is being quiet and we're not seeing the prices move, the interest isn't there.

To give you an example, you know, this past week, when we've seen some huge runs across the board on all the different types of cryptocurrencies, we've seen at least a 20x increase in customer inflows and customer demand and trading. And that's pretty typical for the space. So these new products, the ETFs, this is just adding that fuel in what we see the momentum trade that is anything digital related.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Hey, Anthony, Brian Cheung here. Now, I want to ask just about broad volume on your platforms, irrespective of what's been going on in crypto. We know that 2020 was a massive year for people coming into the retail trading platforms. What does the demand look like in 2021? We know the meme stock episode of earlier this year showed that, at least, running into 2021, there was a massive amount of retail demand.

Has that continued to trend upwards and stay on that momentum? Or has it waned off a little bit more recently, as maybe some of the stimulus and people have gone back to work and maybe don't have the time to be trading actively as much anymore? What are you seeing in terms of that space?

ANTHONY DENIER: Yeah, I mean, earlier this year with the meme stock and GameStop, AMC, that was a crazy event. I don't know if we'll ever get back to those levels in the near term, but the activity that we're seeing has not really subsided.

Now you would think getting back to work, kids going back to school, sports opening up, venues opening up, would slow the activity for retail trading. It's been pretty steadily increasing from the lows that we saw in the summer. So July, August were probably the slowest months we've seen. But it's been nothing but upticking, even in a down month that we saw with market going down in September. October has been extremely strong, and volumes keep, keep coming in.

BRIAN SOZZI: It really is a tremendous time to be operating a trading platform, Anthony. Obviously, of course, the volumes, like you just mentioned, but everybody in the industry appears to be launching a new service or doing something new. So my question is, what's next for your platform?

ANTHONY DENIER: Well, what we continue to grow, we continue to expand our product base. We are adding on the crypto side. We're adding new coins almost every day. We're adding new products, more advanced products. We're adding educational content. And we're going to keep expanding in a vertical sense in our space, adding new asset management products, new passive investing products, because not everyone can be an active investor or wants to be an active investor.

And then in terms of growing, we're not going to wait on-- WeBull's not going to wait to hit a saturation level in the US. We're expanding globally right now. So, moving out into international markets, bringing international markets to US investors and vice versa is our form of expansion that we think is going to be the model that most are going to follow in the next few years.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Anthony, I asked this of another brokerage earlier in the week, but wondering if you have any takes on the SEC's report earlier this week about the GameStop episode of early January because the brokerages have an interesting role in there. And in fact, they were flagging the possibility that some of that could have been driven by the gamification of these stock trades that because of a payment for order flow model, incentivizes heavy volume as possible.

So maybe you're trying to offer these little digital engagement practices to kind of hit the endorphins a little bit for people that are trading. How are you approaching that to make sure you're not getting caught in the regulatory headwinds, but also just making sure that your users are safely betting?

ANTHONY DENIER: Yeah, absolutely. Customer safety is always number one priority for us. You know, we've never engaged in any sort of feedback or confetti or anything overly gamified like that for executing a trade. But we do engage with our customers via social media. We want your experience on our platform to be an experience, not just a utility, not just a place to show up, place to trade, walk away. We want to be engaging. We want our customers to learn more about how to invest, how to invest smartly, utilizing educational tools.

And if that gets viewed as a gamification to create that interaction, to create that experience, you know, that's a debate that is going to go on. I think this is the future of investing. I think our numbers, the growth of our sector has shown that this is the future. And I think the regulators are going to have to develop new ways to accommodate this new way of engaging in the financial markets, because it is not going away.

And in terms of fueling payment for order flow, to answer that question on fueling active trading, whether it's payment for order flow or it's commission, that argument could be made for anything, right? Trading platforms make money by having customers trade on them. We think the better platform we make will bring more customers to our door, more customers engaging and actively using our platform.

Payment for order flow is simply one way that we can monetize creating that good platform. And it does get vilified I think a bit too much. There's arguments that could be made on both sides of this. But I'm a certain believer that payment for order flow has ushered in this new democratization. It's made trading accessible for a demographic that has not had accessibility to this type of wealth creation, which the stock market, for the last 100 years, had been the greatest wealth creation tool that this country has ever known. And I think giving more people access to that is a good thing.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Now, lastly, I want to ask about the Brooklyn Nets because you could see I've actually got my jersey right here. I'm a season ticket holder, so I'll be there at the opener on Sunday. But you have a partnership with the Brooklyn Nets. You'll have your logo on these jerseys for the season. Tell us a little bit about that partnership. Why did you decide to go with that? Why is that important for growing your share and getting eyeballs on WeBull in a really, kind of, crowded and competitive brokerage space?

ANTHONY DENIER: It is a very competitive space. And, you know, for the last several years, we've been purposely staying under the radar, right? We've never made announcements on big capital raises or certain milestones of funding or valuation or customer growth. We purposely wanted to stay under the radar, so we can build our platform. We can remain consistent, reliable, and have a better product.

Now, this partnership with the Nets is very special for us because this is our way to come out as saying, we are a New York company. And what better way to say you're a New York company than sponsoring the best team in New York? Sorry, Knicks.

Secondly, NBA is an international brand, right? No other major US sports team-- NFL, MLB, NHL. NBA is the one that's international. Like I mentioned earlier, we are expanding globally. So this is a perfect match for us in terms of the Nets are the scrappy team, right? We think as ourselves, we're the scrappy contender. They're New York based, we're New York based. They have an international reach, we have an international reach. And in all honesty, I think they're going to win the championship this year, too. So that kind of helped with the decision.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Love it. Love it. Maybe see you there.

ANTHONY DENIER: See you guys Sunday.

JULIE HYMAN: Anthony, thanks so much. I love that. And Anthony, do me a favor because I wasn't sure if I got it right at the top. How do you say your last name?

ANTHONY DENIER: That's an ethnic-- people say it wrong everywhere I go. It's fine. It's Denier in the US. When I go to Europe, it's Denier. It changes.

JULIE HYMAN: OK, well, we're in the US, so I'll say Denier, and hopefully--


JULIE HYMAN: --I get it from the horse's mouth there. CEO of WeBull, thank you so much for being here. Good to catch up with you.