“Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary is an enormous believer in non-fungible tokens — he even thinks they’ve a shot at changing into bigger than bitcoin.
O’Leary, the chairman of O’Shares Funding Advisers, stated his perception in NFTs stems from the concept that can they show possession of real-world gadgets, equivalent to designer watches or flash vehicles, digitally reasonably than with paper information.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind crypto tokens that serve to trace the provenance and authenticity of uncommon digital collectible gadgets equivalent to artwork and sports activities memorabilia. There have also been efforts to convey NFTs to bodily belongings.
“You are going to see loads of motion when it comes to doing authentication and insurance coverage insurance policies and actual property switch taxes all on-line over the subsequent few years, making NFTs a a lot greater, extra fluid market doubtlessly than simply bitcoin alone,” O’Leary instructed CNBC’s “Capital Connection” Wednesday.
“We’ll see what occurs however I am making that wager and I am investing on either side of that equation.”
Barely anybody had heard of NFTs in 2020, however they grew to become an enormous phenomenon the next 12 months. Greater than $20 billion price of the tokens modified palms all through 2021, in accordance with some estimates. The development gained specific public consideration after a collage by the digital artist Beeple, whose actual identify is Mike Winkelmann, was bought for a report $69 million.
Nevertheless, there are considerations concerning the sustainability of the market. Some have in contrast it to the preliminary coin providing frenzy of 2017, which noticed a number of buyers get defrauded by betting on start-ups by unregulated token gross sales. In the meantime, there have been numerous scams and cases of stolen artwork, elevating pink flags for some merchants.
Change of coronary heart
The millionaire Canadian investor has modified his tune on crypto through the years, having beforehand known as bitcoin “garbage.”
“It is a useless currency,” O’Leary told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in May 2019. “It’s worthless.”
More recently, O’Leary has warmed to the space, viewing it as a way of diversifying from other assets such as real estate amid rising inflation. He is particularly bullish on “decentralized finance,” a trend that aims to replicate traditional financial products using blockchain.
O’Leary recently disclosed that his largest position is in ether, while he also owns some polygon, solana and bitcoin.
Around 40% of new checks O’Leary has written in the last six months were for crypto and blockchain-related ventures.
O’Leary stressed the importance of ensuring crypto becomes regulated. Regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere are racing to catch up with developments in the market to prevent potential money laundering and protect consumers from financial harm.
“Different geographies have different policy regarding crypto,” O’Leary said. “You have to go and find jurisdictions that are more progressive.”
He cited Canada, his home country, as an example of a jurisdiction that is more progressive than others on the issue of crypto.
Canada was the first to approve an exchange-traded fund that gives investors exposure to bitcoin. Though the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has since greenlit a bitcoin-linked ETF, the product tracks futures contracts instead of investing in bitcoin directly.
O’Leary also cited the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland as other countries that are opening up to crypto.
“You have to be optimistic and constructive,” O’Leary said. “The floodgate of capital will come in through sovereign and pension plans that doesn’t exist yet.”
Of particular concern to regulators are stablecoins, digital tokens pegged to the value of sovereign currencies like the dollar. Economists worry notable stablecoins like tether and USD Coin may not have the appropriate reserves available to justify their claims of being backed by dollars.
“I think [stablecoins] will also get a chance to shine in the sun as a great way to get yield when you can’t get any yield on cash,” O’Leary said.