Recently, Canada’s central bank has been leading working groups with global partners exploring a blockchain future. Their crypto presence has soared with Ernst & Young’s announcement that it is using Toronto to test its public government expenditure blockchain. But what is the cryptocurrency landscape currently like in Canada?
The history of crypto in Canada may seem as volatile as a token with a small market cap, yet mainstream use and adoption have been on a consistent incline since 2013, when Canadians started pushing mainstream adoption. Now, the Canadian government is leading working groups. What else has the country been up to in the blockchain space?
The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when it comes to the Great White North is that the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, grew up in Canada — but Etherum isn’t all the country has provided to the crypto space. Here are some more notable stories from Canada’s blockchain history.
The world’s first Bitcoin ATMs
Canada contributed to Bitcoin’s (BTC) mainstream use early on by opening the world’s first Bitcoin ATM at a coffee shop in Vancouver in 2013. The ATMs were released by Bitcoiniacs and Robocoin. Bitcoin was trading at around $200 at the time and, during the first day, the kiosk performed 81 Bitcoin transactions equaling around 81 BTC.
The ATM is considered a strong driver for attracting new people to cryptocurrency, with around a third of its users new to Bitcoin. In an interview with Cointelegraph back in 2013, Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley marveled at how easy it was for people to get started with Bitcoin. According to industry monitor CoinATMRadar, there are at least 715 cryptocurrency ATMs in Canada, with 85 in Vancouver and 227 in Toronto.
It is easy to agree that the initial coin offerings (ICOs) craze produced more losers than winners, as many took advantage of the hyped-up funding method to conduct scams. In response, state and provincial securities regulators in the United States and Canada launched probes into potentially fraudulent crypto investment programs as part of the North American Securities Administrators Association’s Operation Cryptosweep in 2018. The initiative is reportedly the largest coordinated investigation held by state and provincial officials targeting suspicious crypto investment products, and has resulted in over 200 investigations of ICOs and crypto-related investment products.
Operation Cryptosweep has issued at least 77 actions against crypto programs, including the infamous BitConnect, which has gone down in history as one of the largest cryptocurrency scams.
Vancouver mayor suggests a ban on Bitcoin ATMs
The mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, suggested a complete ban on Bitcoin ATMs in the summer of 2019 due to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) issues associated with the ATMs. The associated police report claims that criminals could purchase a Bitcoin ATM for their own needs for a few thousand dollars, and then deposit their cash into that ATM “as many times as required” to profit from or eliminate the transaction fees.
While many Canadian governing bodies have already taken steps against cryptocurrency, British Columbia’s review into the alleged money laundering activities is ongoing. Canada saw the amount of money laundering claims triple last year to 2,466 claims.