'Shark Tank' star Kevin O'Leary says no one wants to be 'cowboys' by investing in crypto if regulators say it's not okay

Kevin O'Leary. REUTERS / Gus Ruelas
Kevin O'Leary said he wants cryptocurrencies to be regulated in the US because people don't want to be "cowboys".
"I don't want to get involved in crypto when the regulator says it's wrong," he told CNBC.
There would be another trillion dollars to buy bitcoin if regulators classified crypto as collateral, he said.
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"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary has urged US regulators to set some rules for the cryptocurrency market, saying no one in finance wants to be "cowboys".
"We want the regulator to actually make some decisions about crypto, because none of us who work in the financial services industry actually wants to be cowboys in this regard," he said in an interview published on Monday in Capital Connection CNBC. "I don't want to get involved in crypto when the regulator says it's not okay."
The US does not have a single regulator overseeing the crypto market as digital assets are not classified as "securities". SEC Chairman Gary Gensler called the cryptocurrency industry "the Wild West" and recently urged Congress to give the agency more regulatory powers.
"I can't afford to be sidelined. I can't afford not to be compliant," said O'Leary. "If regulators finally allowed financial services companies to be labeled an asset, put them in an ETF in the United States - as they have in Canada and other countries - I'd expect bitcoins to be worth an additional trillions of dollars could be bought. And we haven't got that yet, but this is the opportunity. "
Some portfolio managers say that while many are enthusiastic about Bitcoin ETFs, it's a massive contradiction as crypto investors shouldn't need such a product to get into the crypto market. However, traditional investors want an ETF so they can speculate on the price of Bitcoin.
The SEC has yet to approve a Bitcoin ETF, but is currently reviewing applications from more than 20 companies, including billionaire Mike Novogratz's Galaxy Digital, VanEck, Valkyrie Investments, and FirstTrust / SkyBridge.
"I think at the end of the day that's going to happen for years to come," said O'Leary. "That's why there is so much interest right now."
O'Leary, popularly known as "Mr. Wonderful", also mentioned the SALT event, which will be held in New York from September 12th to 15th. He said the leading hedge fund industry conference hosted by crypto enthusiast Anthony Scaramucci's SkyBridge was about the future of decentralized finance and cryptocurrencies.
"There isn't a single hotel room in New York," he said. “We are full. It's like 'Bitcoin 2021'. All institutions come to the conference to discuss this very issue. "
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