‘Shark Tank’s’ O’Leary Lobbies Congress for Sen. Lummis’ New Crypto Bill

The Responsible Finance Innovation Act, in the works since last year, will propose a new framework for crypto regulation in the U.S.

AccessTimeIconMar 14, 2022 at 7:40 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:40 a.m. UTC

Kevin O’Leary made himself a household name as a co-host of “Shark Tank,” where budding entrepreneurs make their pitches to a panel of investors. On March 9, it was “Mr. Wonderful’s” turn to make a case for crypto before U.S. legislators in Washington, D.C.

The O’Shares Exchange-Traded Fund chairman met with senators, representatives and their staffers on Capitol Hill to push for Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ (R-Wyo.) Responsible Financial Innovation Act, he said on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Monday. According to Sen. Lummis, her bill aims to fully integrate digital assets into the U.S. financial system.

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  • The bill comes at a time when Congress is grappling with a potential framework for digital asset oversight, although discussions on the issue are starting to pick up pace. Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled a long-awaited executive order on digital assets, pushing agencies and departments to craft guidance on the industry. The order was a first-of-its-kind approach by the government to digital assets.

    Sen. Lummis, long a bitcoin (BTC) hodler, has been working on the “comprehensive” bill since at least 2021. A senior aide for the senator told CoinDesk in December the bill would call for the creation of a crypto regulatory body, as well as federal rules for stablecoins, consumer protection provisions, updated taxation guidance, and the establishment of a self-regulatory organization (SRO).

    The 160-plus page bill represents an attempt, O’Leary said, to get some agreement on cryptocurrency regulation from both sides on Capitol Hill.

    “This is one of the few bipartisan activities going on on the Hill right now,” he said. “Many senators on a bipartisan basis are interested in having this in their states.”

    O’Leary said his meeting with lawmakers last week also presented an opportunity for crypto education.

    “They’re asking me about how I invested in [cryptocurrency] and what my premise of investing in this was, and what I could and couldn’t do from a compliance point of view,” O’Leary said.

    Even though the Responsible Financial Innovation Act is likely not going to go before Congress until after the midterm elections in November – if at all – the bill is good news, said the Canadian investor, because it could provide some much-needed regulatory clarity and encourage institutional investors to come into the industry.

    “When policy comes in, you’ll see a trillion dollars move into this market,” he said, adding: “We can finally embrace the idea that any digital currency isn’t going to be legislated out of existence.”


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    Helene Braun

    Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.