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Tyrone Ross named CEO of Reality Shares’ crypto investing startup

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Tyrone Ross Jr., known for his financial advisor podcast at the startup custodian Altruist, says he used to be a Bitcoin skeptic. Now, he’s going all in, seeing digital currencies as an opportunity to help financially underserved communities.

Ross has been named the first CEO of Onramp Invest, a cryptocurrency and alternative investment startup owned by the ETF maker Reality Shares.

In his new role, he will secure funding, put together a management team and finish building Onramp’s investing platform. The firm will target both financial advisors and retail clients seeking to invest in digital currency and other niche asset classes.

“People just can't wrap their heads around [cryptocurrency] yet, so we've got a long way to go here,” Ross says, noting that a key part of the platform will be education focused. “It's still this far-out thing. It's money on the internet. I can't touch it. I can't feel it. I can't fold it.”

As a result of the new gig, Ross left his role as director of community at Altruist. He says he’ll continue to host Altruist’s “Human Advisor” podcast and help CEO Jason Wenk in initiatives he started while there. Ross has also left Eaglebrook Advisors, the digital asset management platform where he is currently registered, although he will continue to provide advice to approximately 10 of his clients for hourly fees or a retainer.

Tyrone Ross Jr. is the first CEO of Onramp Invest, a cryptocurrency and alternative investment startup owned by the ETF maker Reality Shares.

For Ross, the biggest draw to crypto is the opportunity to support people who lack access to banking services, particularly those in poor communities.

“Go to the South Bronx and try to find a JPMorgan Chase or Bank of America, or whoever. You can't find it. Most of these people live in banking deserts,” says Ross, who himself comes from an unbanked family.

People in poor neighborhoods often don’t have access, don’t trust or can’t afford to use banks, he says, noting that the fees as well as the need for an ID can be barriers. Instead, they use the post office for money orders as well as check cashing stores.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, and doesn’t rely on any financial institution. Individuals — including Ross’s father, who is from the South American country of Guyana — can avoid expensive banking fees when sending money back to family members in their home countries.

Ross’ addition to the cryptocurrency industry comes as that market continues to face much skepticism. Crypto detractors say there is a risk of fraud and criticize the energy consumption required for Bitcoin mining, which is the process of verifying transactions by people receiving or sending digital currency.

Ross acknowledges there are hurdles to wide adoption of cryptocurrency. He adds his biggest accomplishment would be getting his mom to use it.

“If I do that, I will retire,” he says.

Ross spoke highly of his time at Altruist and said CEO Wenk is a close friend. When asked about a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Altruist earlier this year, Ross says he never experienced racism of any kind at the company.

“I'm from New Jersey, and I've experienced horrible bigotry and racism on Wall Street. I got that radar up all the time,” he says, adding that he has “never sensed it, never seen it, never experienced it” at Altruist.

“I have a hard time believing that a company would put a Black male as the face of their company and pour so many resources into this podcast and they are racist,” he says, highlighting that a name “doesn’t get much Blacker than ‘Tyrone.’”

At the end of last year, Financial Planning named Ross as one of the top 20 people who would transform wealth management in 2020.

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