“Shark Tank” star and celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary predicted non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be bigger than Bitcoin. He appreciates NFTs can prove ownership of real-world items, such as designer watches or flashy cars. Though, comparing Bitcoin and NFT, O’Leary said he’s “investing on both sides of that equation.”
At Yahoo Finance Live the chairman of O’Shares Investments said that NFTs offer value because of their ability to digitally track the ownership, authenticity and inventory management of real-world items like vintage watches, cars, sports memorabilia, artwork and other assets.
“One of the biggest challenges I have is inventory management, insurance management, and then, of course, authentication,” O’Leary claimed. “When people offer me vintage watches, I have to go through a very arduous authentication process to know if it’s fake or not, there’s so many fake watches in the market. NFTs could solve all of those problems.”
“You’re going to see a lot of movement in terms of doing authentication and insurance policies and real estate transfer taxes all online over the next few years, making NFTs a much bigger, more fluid market potentially than just bitcoin alone,” O’Leary told CNBC last week.
“We’ll see what happens, but I’m making that bet, and I’m investing on both sides of that equation,” he said.
Barely anyone had heard of NFTs in 2020, but they became a huge phenomenon the following year. According to some estimates, more than $20 billion worth of tokens changed hands throughout 2021. The trend gained particular public attention after a collage by the digital artist Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was sold for a record $69 million.
O’Leary, who once called Bitcoin “garbage,” now says investing in cryptocurrencies and NFTs is like investing in the early days of Amazon and Google.
“If you invest in Microsoft, and Google, and Amazon, what is the core you’re investing in? It’s basically software,” O’Leary said. “Well, Bitcoin is not a coin; it’s actually software. The blockchain is software, Ethereum… HBAR, Polygon, is software. So the real decision is if you’re willing to invest in software, because it’s a productivity tool. It provides a service, particularly in payment systems that is being used globally.”
If 2021 was the year crypto went more mainstream, O’Leary says 2022 may see clear regulation in the industry.
“If we make it regulated, if we get institutions into it and find a way for them to be compliant, there’s trillions of dollars going to come into this space, because it has a pragmatic use.”
O’Leary holds multiple positions in the industry including Immutable Holdings which owns NFT.com, the payments platform Circle, and the decentralized finance platform WonderFi, which recently bought Canada’s largest crypto exchange. O’Leary is also a paid spokesperson and endorser for crypto exchange FTX.
“The Swiss, the Canadians, the UAE government, some of these places are now becoming a little bit more progressive and you have to invest in those geographies, if you want exposure to crypto and NFTs,” O’Leary noted.
While he admits crypto is more volatile than tech stocks, O’Leary said it’s something investors need to make peace with.
O’Leary began adding Bitcoin to his portfolio in March 2021. At the time, he allocated 3% of his portfolio to the world’s largest cryptocurrency after his native country Canada, and a handful of other countries, eased restrictions on institutional buying of the asset. Ether is currently his largest crypto position — even larger than Bitcoin.
In November, O’Leary claimed that sovereign funds in Saudi Arabia and the UAE represent the “real opportunity” for transforming the crypto marketplace.