Saturday, September 23, 2023

Canada’s regulatory clarity is bringing institutions to crypto — WonderFi CEO

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Canadian financial institutions are increasingly taking an interest in crypto as regulatory clarity emerges in the country, according to WonderFi CEO Dean Skurka, who met up with Cointelegraph at the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto.

Skurka claimed that his exchange had seen an uptick in trading by institutions as opposed to retail investors. “What we have seen in the first half of this year is growth in our OTC institutional segment,” he stated, referring to over-the-counter trades. “These institutional investors, more sophisticated investors, are [more] immune to sentiment and trends in the market, and they’re more fundamental in their investment approaches. […] We’re starting to see, […] through clear regulation, that the segment of our client base is shifting quite a bit.”

Cointelegraph’s Sam Bourgi (left) and WonderFi CEO Dean Skurka (right) at the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Aug. 16, 2023. Source: Cointelegraph

The Canadian government has been criticized for allegedly making regulations that are too difficult for crypto exchanges to follow, and some major crypto exchanges have left the market altogether. For example, Bybit announced on May 30 that it would no longer allow new Canadian accounts to be opened due to “recent regulatory development,” and Binance closed its service to Canadians on May 12, citing new stablecoin regulations as the reason.

But in Skurka’s view, clear regulations in Canada have been a boon for WonderFi. He stated:

“Through the platforms that we own and operate, having the licenses that we do, there are fewer venues that can offer [crypto services] to an institutional audience. […] We’ve seen an increase in activity, not only on the institutional side, but also on products that we’ve rolled out that are catered to long-term holders like staking.”

Related: From the U.S. to Japan, regulators are beginning to embrace crypto

Skurka emphasized that until recently, long-term holders in Canada were left without services that suited their needs, as lending platforms like Celsius and Voyager had gone bankrupt. On the other hand, new regulations created in reaction to these bankruptcies have increased the cost of running an exchange. In Skurka’s view, this meant that the crypto market needed to consolidate in order to be able to handle the new costs. He said WonderFi has been attempting to “use this opportunity to bring these platforms together really on the basis that […] you’re creating a clear market leader that has the scale to operate in a compliant environment.”

WonderFi has been gobbling up smaller Canadian crypto exchanges over the past two years. It acquired Bitbuy and Coinberry in 2022, then announced a merger with Coinsquare and CoinSmart in April 2023.

The WonderFi CEO stated that he thinks this new trend of institutional interest will continue into the future, thanks to the direction the Canadian government is taking. “As that infrastructure is established, you’re going to see institutional participants continue to take it more seriously,” he claimed.

This article is based on an interview conducted by Sam Bourgi.

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