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Don Tapscott: Canada is leading the world in blockchain technologies

Don Tapscott
Don Tapscott
Don Tapscott in Banff, June, 2016.

With blockchain, it’s like 1994 all over again, pioneer Don Tapscott says.

Known to many as the author of multiple books on business and technology, Tapscott is also co-founder of The Blockchain Research Institute, a Toronto-based think tank dedicated to blockchain technology has just gained the support of 16 new members.

The Blockchain Research Institute’s growing list of supporters now includes corporations like Bell Canada, FedEx and Tencent along with government and non-profit organizations like the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Institute on Governance.

Launched in March of this year, the Institute is the brainchild of tech experts and father and son team, Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of “The Blockchain Revolution – How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World”.

The Institute began with $2-million in funding from a group of companies and the Government of Ontario and has since gained support from all three orders of government, including the City of Toronto and the Government of Canada. Dedicated to researching the potential impact of blockchain on business and governance, the Institute now boasts over 50 tech and business experts all looking into what many are calling the next evolution of the Internet.

Cantech Letter spoke with Don Tapscott on the Institute’s new announcement.

What does the addition of 16 new Founding Members mean to the Blockchain Research Institute?
It means we can do more research. It’s a kind of Parkinson’s law – our research expands to fill the funding available. We’re undertaking roughly 70 research projects from experts around the world, and the support for that research comes from our members.

What does the addition say to the larger issue of the emergence of blockchain that these major organizations are supporting your research?
We’ve grown to over 40 members in less than a year, including some of the world’s largest multinational corporations. That rapid pace of growth is a clear indication of the importance that these industry leaders are placing on blockchain technology to help lead their business into the next era of the Internet.

The technology super-corridor between Waterloo and Toronto is quickly becoming the global hub for blockchain technologies, and the Information and Communications Technology Council estimates that Canada’s blockchain market will reach over $2.5 billion and create roughly 107,700 jobs by 2024

To those who might still think that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are more hype than substance, why is blockchain so revolutionary?
Where to start? Blockchain fundamentally changes the way we are able to determine value in the economy. It’s really the second era of the Internet – a shift from the “Internet of Information” to the “Internet of Value.” New paradigms like this cause enormous dislocation – there isn’t an industry that won’t be affected by this shift. We’re really in the “1994” era of blockchain, and its potential is really only limited by our own willingness to harness it. Back in 1994, I heard the same things. For sure, there was hype but there was also something very important happening.

How well placed is Canada to benefit from the blockchain revolution?
I’m a biased source, but I think it’s safe to say that Canada is leading the pack in blockchain right now. The technology super-corridor between Waterloo and Toronto is quickly becoming the global hub for blockchain technologies, and the Information and Communications Technology Council estimates that Canada’s blockchain market will reach over $2.5 billion and create roughly 107,700 jobs by 2024.

What should Canadian businesses and Canadian governments be doing to prepare for and best take advantage of the emerging technology?
One key hurdle for Canada is the absence of a clearly defined strategy for governments and other stakeholders to take advantage of blockchain technology. Governments focus on investing in technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing while missing the critical underlying blockchain infrastructure for those technologies. Canada has a lot going for it, but the competition to be the global leader in blockchain technology is getting fierce. It’s going to take a lot of strategic planning from governments and business leaders to maintain the lead we have now.

Below: How the blockchain is changing money and business | Don Tapscott

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

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