Report paints optimistic picture for Canadian blockchain ecosystem

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

A report from Canada’s Chamber of Digital Commerce has shed a largely positive light on the country’s fledgling blockchain ecosystem, albeit with warnings over scalability.

The paper, the first in a series put together alongside Accenture and the Blockchain Research Institute, assessed that more than 400 ventures in Canada are leveraging distributed ledger technologies (DLT), with Ontario accounting for more than half of these organisations. The country is just inside the top 10 for blockchain-related funding received, at US$220 million over the past five years.

Aiming to provide the first quantitative analysis of the Canadian blockchain ecosystem, the report conducted an online survey of 200 respondents, with follow-up interviews undertaken from entrepreneurs and leaders in large organisations.

The report notes Canada’s interest in blockchain technologies goes back longer than most, with the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup Group in 2012 cited as the first major event. The first meet was attended by Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin, of Canadian and Russian heritage. Hyperledger’s decision to hold its annual member summit in Montreal last year was seen as a key recent initiative.

In terms of specifics, the most popular Canadian blockchain business is by providing blockchain-based products, cited by 30% of those polled. Aware that there is potential for overlap, business consulting services (26%) came second, ahead of infrastructure development (24%).  More interestingly, 24% said their business focused on decentralised enterprise applications. Nine out of 10 respondents had joined at least one industry consortium.

While the report notes enterprises were thin on the ground in the initial survey, this is a growing area and will be checked assiduously over time. Despite this publicly disclosed enterprise blockchain initiatives included plays in payments, the supply chain, identity, and healthcare.

Respondents also see Canada as being a fertile breeding ground for future innovation. Eight in 10 of those polled said their country’s laws, policies and regulations supported their blockchain and digital asset projects.

Despite this, uncertainties naturally remain. Optimism was there in terms of access to consulting and venture capital firms for Canadian blockchain businesses; yet regulatory concern, access to talent, and obtaining affordable legal services are roadblocks. The question of scalability was the thorniest; 60% of respondents said Canada’s ecosystem needed support to remain competitive, with funding gaps cited alongside regulatory issues.

“The report presents a compelling picture of opportunity for Canada to leverage its existing blockchain ecosystem to advance national priorities in the public and private sectors,” the researchers conclude. “The pace of growth in the global innovation ecosystem is accelerating, and the time to develop a roadmap and national plan to harness this potential in Canada is now.”

This publication has previously reported on blockchain initiatives in Canada. Last July the Canadian government reviewed blockchain as a possible solution for securely tracking marijuana ‘from seed to sale’, following the passing of a bill legalising recreational use of the drug the previous month. A year later, the City of Richmond Hill was reportedly working with Coinberry to provide a cryptocurrency-based payment processing solution.

You can read the full report here (pdf, no login required).

Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.   


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