‘Penny hasn’t dropped’ for Australia’s next crypto unicorns — Coinbase APAC MD


Australia is primed for its next wave of crypto “unicorns” — startups with a billion-dollar valuation — but not until there is more regulatory clarity around crypto, according to Coinbase’s APAC managing director John O’Loghlen.

“I don’t think the penny’s dropped in Canberra or on the high street in terms of just how much great human capital there is in Australia,” O’Loghlen told Cointelegraph — referring to policymakers and large institutional players.

“It’s really important that we get this clarity in legislation around digital assets so that the sector can be properly funded and give the VC community and other investors certainty around it so that we can keep building the next Illuvium or Immutable.”

While O’Logheln acknowledged there while there had been some regulatory advancements — including the Treasury’s October 2023 consultation paper and an informal regulatory meeting with policymakers at the Blockchain APAC Summit in March — he says it’s still lagging behind a huge uptick in retail and institutional demand for crypto.

According to a 2024 investor survey from Australian crypto exchange Independent Reserve, approximately 27.5% of all Australians — 7.15 million people — now own cryptocurrency. The survey found that 35% of all Australian crypto investors put around $500 per month into digital assets.

27.5% of Australians currently own crypto. Source: Independent Reserve

O’Loghlen also pointed to the growing demand for the utility of stablecoins, digital remittances, and a swathe of other capital-efficient applications of crypto in the Australian fintech industry as prime breeding grounds for the next multi-billion crypto company.

“Some of these companies are really going to be next Canva, the next Xero, the next Atlassian, or the next Afterpay,” he said, naming several multibillion-dollar valuation companies in Australia.

O’Loghlen also sees a significant increase in demand for crypto products on the retail side — with two main sectors piquing his attention.

The first is from an increase in interest in self-managed retirement funds divesting into crypto, which O’Loghlen said were considerable, despite being small relative to the size of their portfolio.

“Even if it’s [0.5%] or 1% allocation, when that audience invests, the size of that investment is a considerable multiple of the [younger] cohorts, because their assets under management are significantly sized.”

The next most interesting cohort of investors coming into the market is what O’Loghlen called “HENRYs” — an internal acronym that stands for “High Earners Not Rich Yet.”

“These are working professionals who don’t have a whole lot of debt, don’t have a don’t have a large mortgage — they’ve got good earning potential and they’re really taking time to educate themselves on crypto,” he said.

Related: Australians wouldn’t value retail CBDC for its privacy or safety, RBA finds

Looking ahead, O’Loghlen revealed that Coinbase would be looking to expand its Stand with Crypto campaign to Australia later this year.

He said Coinbase plans to fly in members of its senior leadership to host several events to better help regulators and policymakers understand the potential upsides to cryptocurrency in the country.

Source: Stand With Crypto

“It’s important that people in Canberra — government representatives and policymakers — can see the real use cases for entrepreneurs and founders who are saving money and getting utility out of crypto,” he said.

O’Loghlen’s comments echo those of Kraken Australia’s MD Johnathon Miller, who told Cointelegraph that current market conditions mark an “inflection point” for crypto in Australia.

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