With bitcoin hovering around the $60,000 level, dogecoin getting pumped by Elon Musk and Coinbase looking to IPO later this month, the cryptocurrency market looks like it’s here to stay whether people like it or not. But there’s much greater potential for the development of the blockchain and cryptocurrency markets than just the price of bitcoin. The ETF Think Tank recently welcomed Tyrone Ross, the CEO of Onramp Invest, to discuss the possibilities. Onramp describes itself as “the most comprehensive digital asset management network that financial advisers need to help their clients safely, confidently, and intelligently invest in digital assets.”
Ross’ passion for the cryptocurrency market is fueled by two goals - 1) a desire to bring a level playing field and equal access to financial services for all people regardless of their background and 2) developing the education necessary for individuals and advisors to understand how cryptocurrency can help achieve that goal.
Ross notes that the banking system is not set up for a certain class of people, the “underserved” as he calls it. There is a group of people who use payday lenders and Western Union because they don’t care about paying a 3-5% fee if it means you get money today, especially if you need basic human services, such as food and utilities. Cryptocurrencies can help fill that gap by facilitating the transfer of money without the huge fees and have it arrive immediately often without needing to get off the couch. Ross says that a lack of access and lack of education are the biggest hurdles and we need to force our legacy financial services systems to catch up because all people deserve financial services access.
How does Onramp fit in? Cryptocurrencies have become a firm part of the investing landscape, but many financial advisors don’t have the knowledge needed in order to advise their clients on how to use bitcoin. Onramp aims to provide access and education to everybody. By educating advisors, it allows them to fulfill their fiduciary duty to their clients and allow them to make coherent arguments on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Ross says that bitcoin matters in today’s financial landscape. Advisors and executives need to understand it. The emergence of cryptocurrencies has brought most people back to the starting line in terms of education and that’s a powerful thing.
Ross says that there are risks to advisors for not being educated on cryptocurrencies. Outside of the straight learning piece, advisors potentially expose themselves to legal and regulatory risks. Part of that requires receiving more guidance from the SEC as far as what cryptocurrency is (a commodity, a security, something else?). There are also issues of qualified custody and insurance, but the most important need for advisors is to make all of these pieces talk to each other. Even if advisors don’t put their clients in bitcoin, they should at least be having the conversation. The emphasis should be on education for both themselves and their clients.
How does Ross suggest people begin to educate themselves on cryptocurrency and
blockchain? Start with the bitcoin white paper and just keep asking questions. He says that we may come as skeptics, but the important thing is to learn.
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