Vancouver-based WonderFi Technologies Inc. will soon become the first Canadian-regulated cryptocurrency marketplace and registered trading platform to list its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
WonderFi, which owns Bitbuy Technologies Inc. and is backed by Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, will list with the ticker TSX:WNDR on June 22. O’Leary said he is seeing more investors demand diversification and options to invest within cryptocurrency assets.
“Most of the banks are under tremendous pressure from their own constituencies that have accounts with them to give them exposure (to cryptocurrency),” he said. “So, we’re making sure that we keep our platform open, ready for business to engage with any banking platform that wants to work with us, and I think being part of the TSX, where you find a lot of other financial services listed, is a very important thing.”
The TSX at the beginning of May approached WonderFi to see if the company would list on the exchange. O’Leary said the TSX has been listening to their constituents and noted the growing institutional demand for cryptocurrency assets.
By listing on the TSX, WonderFi hopes to capture a “new breed of retail and institutional investor,” chief executive Ben Samaroo said in a press release, adding that this breed tends to be older investors who trust the TSX.
Bitbuy’s data noted that cryptocurrency investors are getting older. In 2022, the median age of new cryptocurrency investors was 39, five years older than in 2018. Bitbuy added there had been a three-year boost in the median age over the past 12 months or so. Assuming the trend continues, the exchange expects the median age could soon be in the mid-40s.
O’Leary also noted that older investors tend to have more capital to put to work.
However, WonderFi’s listing comes at a time when market watchers say the sector is approaching a “crypto winter,” or a sustained downturn in asset values.
On Tuesday, Coinbase Global Inc. chief executive Brian Armstrong warned of a cryptocurrency winter after the company cut 18 per cent of its staff. Its shares have fallen 80 per cent this year, according to Bloomberg data. New York-based exchange Gemini Trust Co. and U.S. crypto lender BlockFi Inc. have also slashed staff counts.
The cryptocurrency market rout does not faze O’Leary, who said that even success stories such as Amazon.com Inc. had deep stock price plunges when they were finding their footing in the early days.
“I feel the same way about the crypto sector,” he said. “It’s nascent, it’s early. There’s a lot of unregulated over levered positions, and this, too, will eventually pass. They will blow up.”
O’Leary added that more regulation will attract institutional capital, which will bring price stability and appreciation once the assets are owned by larger players.
“But it all starts with a regulatory environment,” he said.
Another favourable factor O’Leary pointed to was the large number of engineers graduating from top U.S. universities who are looking to work or start businesses in the blockchain sector.
“The amount of intellectual capital going into this market is so huge that undoubtedly the sector will become the 12th sector of the economy given all of the productivity it’s going to provide to the largest sector, which is financial services,” he said.
“Policy is one of the reasons you want to see this thing mature, and part of the maturation is a listing on the TSX, which is obviously a move towards an institutional investor, a move towards supporting the banking sector, a move towards a larger base of shareholders and, ultimately, account holders.”
Before listing on the TSX, WonderFi had been on an acquisition spree, picking up Bitbuy for $206 million in January and Toronto-based cryptocurrency trading platform Coinberry Ltd. for $38.5 million in April.
O’Leary hinted that WonderFi would be looking to other global jurisdictions as part of the company’s expansion strategy, though he would not specify which countries in particular were catching his eye.
WonderFi has previously been listed on the Neo Exchange and has over-the-counter market listings in the U.S.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: