Canada’s Blockchain Sector Wants Legal Clarity, New Report Shows

Canadian blockchain companies want to know where their government stands on the crypto space, a new report commissioned by the Canadian Digital Chamber of Commerce (CDCC) shows.

The report – one of the first to take a comprehensive snapshot of Canada’s blockchain ecosystem – sheds new light on the country’s nascent crypto firms, who appear largely bullish on their own future and are increasingly eager to know if their government feels the same.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents said that “legal and regulatory challenges” were impeding their growth.

Though separate from U.S. regulators and from other global regulatory bodies, Canada’s government has been reticent to establish crypto regulations that might conflict with other countries’ laws, said Michael Gord, CEO of Toronto-based MLG Blockchain consulting group.

Instead, Gord described a regulatory gray zone that confounds his consulting group and the legal teams he turns to for advice:

“Often digital asset regulations in Canada are so ambiguous that lawyers cannot give us a yes or no answer. The regulations have not been defined enough for them to be able to.”

Neither the U.S. nor Canada have developed comprehensive definitions for digital assets, and Gord doubts the Canadians will jump ahead: “Even if [Canadian regulators] were to want to create clear regulation, there’s a lot of pressure from the SEC” to follow its lead, he said.

Beyond those regulatory concerns, the CDCC report provides a window into a still-developing ecosystem, crunching data on everything from gender disparities in the workforce to the geographic distribution of crypto-mining operations.

It’s a snapshot from 30,000 feet that nobody had thought to take, said Tanya Woods, CDCC’s managing director:

“There were a few key pieces missing when I was speaking with policy makers. I couldn’t articulate to them things they were thinking about: Does this create good jobs? Do we have the talent to do this? How big is this thing in Canada?”

To grow Canada’s blockchain footprint, she said, the advocates and policymakers needed to have reliable data. CDCC partnered with Accenture and the Blockchain Research Institute to find it.

Key findings

For one, a vast majority – 96 percent – of Canadian businesses with 500 employees or less have at least considered implementing distributed ledger technology, according to the survey.

About 25 percent of businesses reported spending nothing on blockchain projects in the past five years, though only 11 percent said they’d continue to devote no resources in 2020.

The report found new blockchain businesses going where their off-chain counterparts already dominate. Banking hub Toronto hosts many blockchain trading exchanges; the capital city, Ottawa, sees cybersecurity and government IT firms; and Alberta, the heart of Canada’s petroleum industry, has a proliferation of supply-chain startups.

Women are underrepresented in Canadian blockchain companies, but not by much: they comprised about 42 percent of the average company’s respective workforce, serving in roles from marketing to technical development.

That speaks to a wider embrace of women in the Canadian tech sphere, said Justyna Osowska, founder of Women in Blockchain Canada. She told CoinDesk that her year-old nonprofit has been an immediate success; she’s even received event funding from the Ottawa city government.

Said Osowska:

“I didn’t even go out to them and say, ‘I want funding.’ I hosted one meetup, it went well and they came to me saying, ‘Hey, we’re looking for woman in disruptive technology, we’re going to work with you, we’ll support you, come and educate.’”

But Canada’s biggest winners, the report shows, are the workers in the blockchain space.

They haul in around $98,000 USD, double the average Canadian’s yearly wage.

Toronto image via Shutterstock

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