Blockchain technology is about to change more than just currencies and banking, says Ethereum co-founder Anthony Di Iorio, and Canada is set to be leader in the new tech —as long as government and regulators don’t stand in the way.
Cryptocurrency Bitcoin hit a dizzying new high Friday, rising to $9311.92 Cdn, a record for the currency which is enjoying renewed interest after US derivates operator CME Group announced that it would introduce Bitcoin futures contracts this year. At the same time, influential investors continue to throw accusations at Bitcoin and its crypto-cousins, calling them investment mirages and bubbles. And when even blockchain guru and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is labelling Bitcoin investment platform, BitConnect, a Ponzi scheme, you know there’s still a lot of the Wild West about the emerging technology.
But the real impact of the distributed ledger known as blockchain has yet to be felt says Di Iorio, Ethereum co-founder and head of Jaxx, a popular cryptocurrency virtual wallet.
“Like any other disruptive technology, [cryptocurrencies] solve a problem,” says Di Iorio to Bruce Croxon on BNN’s The Disruptors. “For the first time ever, you could have something digital, prove ownership of it and it can’t be duplicated, that’s the major breakthrough.”
“The technology is going to disrupt banks, financial services and currencies, but also with things like smart contracts which we introduced with Ethereum, that [disruption] expands into legal contracts, insurance companies, all these services that require intermediaries can now be automated, faster, cheaper and better,” says Di Iorio.
And Canada could be a leader on the blockchain front, if only government and regulators continue to support a strong startup culture, says Di Iorio. “We have an amazing opportunity,” he says. “I think the government’s in place to really do this right. But we really have to figure out the ways in which we can use these amazing technologies and push Canada forward as a leader.”
Di Iorio says that the global marketplace for tech talent is one area Canada could improve upon.
“We need to encourage entrepreneurs and start-ups to come here,” he says. “Ethereum came out of right here in downtown Toronto, so to be the second-leading technology to Bitcoin is really something great that we did here in Canada.”
Is broad-based acceptance around the corner? It seems that way. Last month, the Bank of Canada announced that it was partnering with TMX Group which owns and operates the TSX and TSXV exchanges to look into how blockchain technology could help make the securities settlement process faster and more efficient.
Di Iorio says that while the banks and financial institutions are working to integrate blockchain tech into their operations, fundamentally, the match is not a perfect one. “[Financial institutions] are heavily regulated,” says Di Iorio. “So it’s really a contradiction when you have these decentralized systems and you put them in a private system where they still have to be abiding by regulation. They understand that efficiencies can be gained from [blockchain] but they’re challenged on using some of the main benefits of decentralized technologies like permission-less systems and inclusiveness.”