Chain Reaction

Investment in Canada’s Blockchain Ecosystem

Published by ICTC, August 2020

An exciting and emerging technology based on the concepts of transparency and immutability, blockchain has the potential to augment many sectors by changing and optimizing processes in areas such as supply chain management, financial services, public administration, and others.

With the initial cryptocurrency (and thereby initial blockchain) hype having settled, businesses are beginning to realize the value of blockchain across various industries. Currently, some of the most common and applicable use cases of blockchain technology take advantage of the efficiency, transparency, and accountability that blockchain solutions can provide. However, existing barriers like the conflation of blockchain with cryptocurrency, difficulty accessing funding, and unclear regulatory realities exist, which prevents Canada’s ecosystem from growing and scaling at speed. On the investment front, this reality poses challenges that curtail ecosystem development and could potentially lead to an “innovation drain” — both in terms of talent and startup departure — from Canada to other parts of the world.

Industry experts interviewed in this study viewed Canada favourably, recognizing it as home to several blockchain experts and a highly skilled talent base. Many alluded to Toronto as a key hub for promising blockchain organizations, and educational institutions like George Brown College were highlighted as essential in continuing to develop and grow key blockchain skills in Canada. Interviewees tend to view Canada as a favourable destination for investment generally-speaking but were lukewarm on the notion of blockchain-based investment — here, many expressed concern about conservative business culture, lagging private and public sector investment, and slow movement on the regulation front as key obstacles preventing FDI.

While these barriers exist for the time being, interviewees were optimistic about Canada’s potential to overcome them. By addressing these issues and continuing to support and grow its competitive advantage in the production of skilled talent and innovative IP, Canada can eventually create a vibrant blockchain ecosystem that attracts investment from around the world.

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Researched and written by Alexandra Cutean (Senior Director, Research & Policy), Akshay Kotak (Senior Economist & Research Analyst), and Rosina Hamoni (Research Analyst), with generous support from the ICTC Research & Policy team.

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The Digital Think Tank by ICTC is the research and policy arm of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC).

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