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“Mr. Wonderful” Bashes Bitcoin as Rogue & Unregulated on CNBC’s Squawk Box

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The crypto industry may have recently gained some allies in mainstream media, but so-called “FUD” seems to be still as prevalent as ever. On Wednesday morning, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” panel called on Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary to talk Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and Libra. Despite the fact that diversification is one of the Canadian businessman’s publicly-known investment tenets, he was bearish on cryptocurrencies as a whole, bashing the asset class for its unregulated and “rogue” nature.

Squark Box

Crypto Bashed by Canadian Business Tycoon

Canadians may be known for being nice, but on Wednesday’s installment of CNBC “Squawk Box”, O’Leary wasn’t too kind with his comments on digital currencies. Sparring Jeremy Allaire, the chief executive of Circle, the investor on American entrepreneurship reality show “Shark Tank” remarked that he doesn’t like the “crypto crap” due to its unregulated nature:

“If I want to be compliant and I don’t wanna breach any regulators because I’m a participant in financial services globally, and that is where the majority of money is, […] I have to be compliant, I have no interest in doing any of this crypto crap because it is not compliant.”

Seemingly referencing a recent report in which it was revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin transactions involve contraband, O’Leary went on to say that he wants nothing to do with non-compliant and non-sovereign digital assets. Summing up his argument, he noted that due to the fact that the government doesn’t accept taxes with cryptocurrencies, it currently is not a viable asset class.

O’Leary’s latest tirade against Bitcoin and its brethren comes just months after the previous. During that appearance, which was also on CNBC “Squawk Box”, the entrepreneur faced off against Anthony Pompliano. During that spat, Mr. Wonderful questioned the viability of Bitcoin’s halvings, quipped that there is an “odor of BS” around BTC, and that this industry doesn’t make much sense.

Once a Believer in Bitcoin

While O’Leary seems to be against cryptocurrencies, it is important to note that years ago — back when Bitcoin was trading at under the psychological barrier of $1,000 — he claimed to be somewhat of a believer.

In a segment on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the businessman gave BTC his backing, despite the fact that the asset fell 60% in the day prior. During his three-minute appearance, O’Leary claimed that he saw Bitcoin as a bet against central banks — which is a sentiment that many cryptocurrency enthusiasts today tout — and that it is “here to stay.”

Backing this comment, he simply noted that once an asset surpasses a market capitalization of $1 billion, investors should give it more attention. O’Leary even went on to say that he wouldn’t be against allocating 2% or 3% of his personal portfolio into Bitcoin, citing such a move as a way to potentially diversify his currency holdings.

This all begs the question — what happened between Bitcoin and O’Leary over the past five years? Did he miss out, is he looking to accumulate more, or did he forget entirely about the cryptocurrency?

You see, the comments he made back in 2013 are applicable now more than ever before. Back in 2013, the global economy was ostensibly much better than it is now. There wasn’t a raging (now-ceased) trade spat between two global superpowers, there weren’t protests erupting in major cities (Paris & Hong Kong), the Federal Reserve wasn’t entirely dovish, and so on and so forth. Many analysts, including those at The Financial Times, CNBC, and Deutsche Bank, have begun to acknowledge that Bitcoin serves a rightful place as a hedge against fiscal and macroeconomic risk. This is, of course, what O’Leary hinted at in 2013.

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Nick Chong, Khareem Sudlow