With advanced capabilities of tracking and verifying everything we do, blockchain is poised to disrupt a growing number of industries in Canada. International investors are already on board, projecting big potential to simplify existing industries.
Using something called a ‘distributed ledger’, blockchain technology puts a large number of computers to work into a ‘node’ network for one cohesive goal. It’s an upgrade to long-standing online systems of information exchange, cyber-security and transactions of digital assets, like money and cryptocurrency. It will affect both tangible and intangible supply chains. While it was originally created for exchanging cryptocurrencies, made to capitalize on non-duplicable digital assets to avoid double spending, blockchain technology is already transcending the widely publicized volatility of crypto markets. Blockchain has all the tools to prove ownership and copyrights with unchangeable, time-stamped records. Below I’ll explore some of the areas the technology, still in its infancy, is predicted to transform in Canada.
The first example comes in the Canadian food sector. The Hill Times writes:
“In essence, Blockchain gives us the tools to track and verify almost anything we can imagine in complicated global food supply chains. And this means consumers will know exactly what they’re eating, how it is produced, and where it has come from.”
Like many other industries, food supply chains are fraught with a lack of transparency, fraud and corruption. With its inalterable digital tracking, Canadian food producers can ensure a safe, sustainable food supply for the modern world. Last August, it was reported that 1 in 5 sausages reviewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency contained meat other than the label indicated, in some cases with horse meat!
Another case study involved Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigators piecing together that a variety of imported produce products of unknown origin were being sold as Canadian. According to the Globe and Mail, criminal organizations around the world have been targeting food supply chains by deliberately misrepresenting or adulterating products, costing the food industry $10-15 billion per year.
It’s a nebulous area where the total crime stats cannot be close to estimating. Fortunately, this lack of transparency can be tackled at the root of the issue, by tracking all products from ‘seed to sale’, or from farm to table. Everything from pesticides, humidity and temperature can be monitored on a national, inalterable registry. Scientists are already using DNA barcoding to prevent food mislabelling, which could be complemented by the tracking capabilities of blockchains, which seem like the perfect item to address these issues. With no single point of entry, data can be converged on a public cloud on food products made across the country. Consumers, ie. the 73% of people who reportedly mistrust the food industry in our country may soon put their concerns to rest.
A Canadian Bitcoin Mining Project in Manitoba
One Canadian Bitcoin mining project creates sustainable food ecosystem using the energy generated by a greenhouse and fish farm to power his mining system. Heat from the mining warms plants in the greenhouse and water in the fish farm. Based in Manitoba, the hydroelectric power that can be generated in a cold, low-cost area makes it an excellent location for cyptocurrency mining, according to Bitcoinist.
As it stands, there is little incentive for citizens to buy low-carbon products and for companies to make them. Calculations for carbon taxes are far easier when all the data is converged into one system, where consumers can pay higher prices for less environmentally-friendly products. With blockchain, corporations could be discouraged from rescinding sustainable and environmental promises, using commitments regulated by smart contracts (CoinSquare).
The Intersection of Blockchain and Securities Law in Canada
According to the website Slaw, the intersection of blockchain and securities law could be a big opportunity for lawyers, who are learning about token sale regulations and how to work with innovate FinTech structures. Lawyers are also working on how to figure out tax issues with companies that use blockchain, and different areas come with different legal issues. For example, a startup that uses blockchain for bookkeeping and a cryptocurrency exchange will likely be entirely unique in their legal battles. Questions about patentability are hot right now as startups try to discern the originality of their ideas made possible through this new technology.
The sector of financial services is certainly feeling the technology’s ripples as well. The website Gowling reports:
“Blockchain technology is dramatically transforming the way we do business, particularly in the areas of financial services, securities and corporate transactions”.
Gowling is Canada’s self-proclaimed leader in blockchain legal practice, and they advise cabinet ministers, among other Canadian officials of how the tech works with securities laws. The Bank of Canada is also experimenting with blockchain, hoping to use its powers to promote financial stability by usurping traditional banking infrastructures with faster transactions, done at lower costs. At the moment they are only experimenting and exploring possibilities with the distributed ledger technology. Financial and legal areas naturally intertwine when it comes to the regulatory uncertainty of crypto-currencies, anti-money laundering laws and ICO promises for investors. If all goes well with research and development, we may see far lower banking fees and barriers to investment for every single person in Canada.
As you can see, it is only a matter of time before regular Canadians start to feel the effects, both directly and indirectly that blockchain will have on our society. With a growing number of investors and serious government interest, the future of Canadian industry promises to be made easier with the multifaceted uses of blockchain. Consumers may soon be able to buy and trade goods with greater transparency, pay significantly lower fees to banks and see increased jobs in the legal sector.