Kevin O’Leary: ‘I have no interest in being a crypto cowboy’

Kevin O’Leary

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary is investing in digital currencies, but he hasn’t done so lightly, telling CNBC that he’d prefer to consult with regulators on this space rather than be a “crypto cowboy.”

O’Leary told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday that he preferred to consult with regulators before investing in cryptocurrency, in order to see “what is possible and what isn’t” in terms of their stance on the space.

“I have zero interest in investing in litigation against the SEC [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission], that is a very bad idea,” he said, in a discussion around the U.S. regulator’s case with fintech company Ripple.

The SEC’s case against Ripple is centered on its concerns about the fintech firm’s ties to XRP, the world’s seventh-biggest cryptocurrency. The SEC alleged that Ripple and its executives sold $1.3 billion worth of the tokens in an unregistered securities offering.

O’Leary, who is an investor on “Shark Tank” and chairman of O’Shares ETF, said that he preferred to accommodate and comply with regulators “because that’s where the real capital is.”

“I have no interest in being a crypto cowboy and getting anybody unhappy with me because … I have so many assets in the real world that I’ve invested in already that I have to be compliant,” he added.

Stablecoin

However, O’Leary explained that he had been sitting on a “large amount of cash,” after selling a lot of his commercial property investments over the last couple of years, which would lose buying power because of inflation.

By comparison, O’Leary said that he could make a potential 6% return by buying into the USD Coin, which is the world’s second-largest stablecoin run by digital currency company Circle and is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Although O’Leary clarified that he could currently only invest up to 5% of his cash in USDC.

But he added that there was an opportunity for the U.S. to “lead the charge” with stablecoins. 

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