Like many countries, Canada continues to pursue economic interests with the intent of reducing financial risk, boosting productivity and creating a more diversified job sector. According to Don Tapscott, noted Canadian blockchain thought leader and the bestselling author of the book “Blockchain Revolution,” Canada’s economic evolution is bolstered by the intersection between the internet and blockchain technology. This assertion is addressed in a recent report he co-produced with his son Alex, The Blockchain Corridor: Building an Innovation Economy in the 2nd Era of the Internet.
According to the Tapscotts, the first internet era was predicated on the availability of information and content anywhere in the world and at any time. Now the second era, fueled by blockchain technology, is ushering in what is known as the Internet of Value, featuring a revolutionary distributed platform poised to reshape and advance the global business environment and world order.
This report goes on to suggest that Canada is rapidly emerging as the second era’s global hub or, at the very least, one of a select group of such hubs. Bolstered by Canada’s booming tech corridor located between Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo in southern Ontario, as well as its world leadership in quantum physics and artificial intelligence, this North American nation is well positioned for the new blockchain economy.
Then there are the fortunes of Vitalik Buterin, the tech wonderkid who grew up in Canada and was the primary co-founder of Ethereum, viewed by many as one of the most important blockchain projects in the world, with a market cap of nearly $2 billion.
Currently a number of ventures are part of a growing diaspora of entrepreneurs and startups in Canada, including the likes of Paycase, Protocol Fund, Tendermint, Nuco, Smartwallet, Jaxx/Decentral and Blockstream. They are situated in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and elsewhere throughout Canada.
Don Tapscott says that the ultimate purpose of the report, written for the Canadian Federal Government, was to highlight what’s actually feasible for Canada in terms of becoming the global center of blockchain innovation. “We make a number of pretty radical recommendations to the Canadian government about what they should be doing.”
He cites Toronto’s rich trove of schools, good computer science advancements and collaborative financial institutions as a key catalyst of this run on innovation. Continues Tapscott: “We have a growing number of powerful incubators and accelerators, such as the Ryerson DMZ, which was rated #1 in North America. And the recently established Blockchain Research Institute has garnered significant funding and buy-in from the federal government, Ontario government and the City of Toronto. Even the Toronto Stock Exchange as well as a big hospital network here are in the mix.”
Tapscott mused, “It’s a weird thing because who would have figured Canada would emerge as the epicenter of the global blockchain movement?”
Upcoming Conference Signals Continued Advancement
The Blockchain Association of Canada has announced its Blockchain Government Forum on June 12–13, 2017, at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards. It will be held in Ottawa, one of Canada’s leading innovation centers, the nation’s capital and the home of the federal government.
This two-day conference will focus on how blockchain technology will impact government services in the near future. 160 participants will gather to discuss topics including digital identity, the future of healthcare, smart cities and digital voting. The event will be a mixture of keynotes, panels, workshops and use case presentations on behalf of blockchain industry companies.
Kyle Kemper, executive director of the Blockchain Association of Canada, says that one of the key areas of focus these days in the blockchain space is tokenization. He cites Ethereum’s ongoing efforts to assist organizations and industries in the creation of blockchain-based tokens as one such project. “We can see it in the recent ICOs (initial coin offerings) where companies are raising millions of dollars in capital from global pools of token-based capital.”
He says that digital identity is another focal point in Canada where blockchain technology is being used to secure the records, proofs and access to identity information. Then there is ConsenSys’s efforts at developing solutions for decentralized voting. Says Kemper: “One day we will be voting from our cell phones in a general election; this is super exciting and entirely possible (and secure) with blockchain technology.”
According to Kemper, the Canadian government is definitely interested in exploring and supporting blockchain technology. “The Blockchain Research Institute, founded by Don Tapscott, has secured investment from the government of Ontario. And the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) has blockchain [technology] all over their radar. So I’m confident that there will be blockchain innovation running within government agencies by the year end.”
Kemper highlighted four Canadian factors that are the driving force behind Canada’s emergence as one of the world’s leading blockchain nations:
- Robust access to high-speed internet;
- High levels of education, both general and technical;
- High standards of living;
- A permissive government and regulatory environment in the country.
“The internet is quickly entering a second generation and it is feasible that the vast ecosystem for this new era of technology could be based in Canada,” Kemper concluded. “We are no doubt excited about the prospect of this.”