Canada is a significant player in the global cryptocurrency market. Although the UK and US are marginally ahead in the rankings for traditional blockchain adoption, Canada leads the way in Ethereum blockchain technology. This can be attributed in-part to Vitalik Buterin, the prodigious Russian-Canadian programmer who founded Ethereum.
Buterin, energy and the crypto miners
Buterin released the white paper for Ethereum in 2013 at the age of 19. It’s the second highest-value cryptocurrency after Bitcoin (at the time of writing), making it the world’s most valuable altcoin. Buterin’s other achievements include co-founding Bitcoin Magazine in 2013 with fellow crypto pioneer, Mihai Alisie. Although Buterin has since relocated to Singapore, his example and legacy continues to inspire and motivate crypto innovators in the Great White North.
But it’s not all about Vitalik Buterin. Canada’s energy supply is another important reason behind the country’s prominence in the crypto market. Over ten years, Canada has generated an energy surplus of 100 terawatt hours (100,000,000,000 kWh – the UK consumed approximately 305 TWh of electricity in 2017). Canada produces so much energy each year that it often sells the surplus to the USA for billions of dollars. With so much to spare, it was only a matter of time before crypto miners cottoned on to Canada’s energy potential.
Crypto mining sites consume approximately 29.05 TWh every year (0.13% of total global consumption). Due to its surplus and established infrastructure, Canada has become a popular destination for crypto miners – particularly amongst Chinese miners looking to avoid high energy prices at home.
So why isn’t the Canadian countryside thrumming with the sound of processors and cooling fans? Regional resistance to the industry has a lot to do with it. Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec, has warned miners planning on migrating to the region that “they will not get cheap electricity”, and that there may not even be enough power to meet demand. The French-speaking province’s largest utility company Hydro-Quebec has further requested that only 500 MW be made available to crypto miners – a fraction of the 17,000 MW requested by the miners themselves. As it stands, Hydro-Quebec have been advised to await further instructions from the government before accepting any more crypto-mining applications.
Canada is a forerunner in the crypto market for reasons beyond cheap energy and prodigious entrepreneurs; the first ever Bitcoin ATM was launched in Vancouver in 2013, and Canada now boasts over 600 Bitcoin ATMs throughout the (admittedly enormous) country. This puts it second after the USA in terms of the number of Bitcoin ATMs available – not bad for a nation with one-ninth of the population.
A recent report by the Ontario Securities Commission revealed that 5% of Ontarians own crypto assets – roughly half a million people. Canadians appear to have embraced the principles of technological innovation, decentralisation and financial freedom that cryptocurrencies were built on; 46% of Ontarians surveyed lauded the proliferation of technology like blockchain, while 12% invested in crypto because they don’t trust conventional financial and governmental institutions. These figures are reflected in a wider study conducted by the Bank of Canada, which found that 5% of all Canadians own Bitcoin, up from 2.9 percent in November 2016 – a 72% increase in little more than 12 months.
It’s not just private citizens that are driving crypto adoption in Canada, however:
- In 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency began taxing cryptocurrencies – but with tax incentives for research and development.
- Canada’s first blockchain exchange-traded fund began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2018.
- The first registered cryptocurrency investment fund has been approved by the British Columbia Securities Commission.
- Ontario-based VersaBank plans to launch VersaVault, a virtual safety deposit box that promotes “absolute privacy” and blockchain security.
- Canada’s National Research Council has started using blockchain technology to help government institutions become more transparent.
Wirex in Canada
Wirex received a Fintrac and Money Service Business registration to operate in Canada in August this year. Users in Canada can already take advantage of our secure Bitcoin, Litecoin, XRP and Ethereum wallets, low fees and fantastic exchange rates. Next up? Traditional currency accounts and contactless Wirex Visa cards that allow you to convert and spend your crypto like traditional currency, in shops, restaurants, bars and online. Cardholders will also earn 0.5% back in BTC on all in-store purchases with Cryptoback™, Wirex’s unique rewards programme.