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A Look Into Canada's Crypto Forward History

October 4th, 2021Joey PrebysJoey Prebys

Main Points

  • Two of the crypto's most influential figures are Canadian: Ethereum-founder Vitalik Buterin and Binance-founder Chengpeng Zhao.

  • Canada is the home of the world's first Bitcoin ATM.

  • Canada was the first country to officially regulate crypto from an AML perspective and has continually brought regulatory clarity to the space while other countries’ approaches remain murky. 

Recently, El Salvador became the first country in history to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. But, El Salvador was not the first crypto-forward country in history. Canada has been home to its fair share of monumental crypto moments. 

Here is a look at a few of the most significant events in Canada's rich crypto history.

Two of Crypto’s Most Influential Figures are Canadian

Ethereum and Binance are the two most prominent pillars of the crypto community and were founded by a Torontonian and a Vancouverite, respectively. 

Vitalik Buterin is one of the most famous names in the crypto world, second only to Satoshi Nakamoto. Born in Russia, Buterin emigrated to Canada when he was six years old. It was in Toronto that Buterin published Ethereum's white paper at age 19. A year later, he dropped out of university to develop the revolutionary open-source blockchain platform we know and love today. 

Since then, Ethereum has grown to become the world's most actively used blockchain due to its smart-contract capabilities. Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization behind Bitcoin.

Suggested Reading: Ethereum Explained

Binance may not be as ubiquitous as Ethereum to some. Still, anyone entrenched in the crypto-sphere knows that Binance is one of the world's most popular cryptocurrency exchanges. Binance Coin (BNB) is one of the largest coins by market cap.  

As a Chinese-Canadian citizen, Binance founder Chengpeng Zhao, commonly referred to as CZ, spent most of his youth in Canada and attended Montreal's McGill University, where he majored in computer science. 

Suggested Reading: Binance Explained

The Home of the World’s First Bitcoin ATM

In a way, even CoinFlip's history begins in Canada as it is the home of the world's first publicly available Bitcoin ATM. On October 29, 2013, a Bitcoin ATM appeared in a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver. It wasn't until 2014 that the USA got its first ATM. 

Suggested Reading: What is the Purpose of a Bitcoin ATM?

The First Country to Approve Landmark Crypto Regulations

While Canada has not approved Bitcoin as legal tender, it has made some cutting-edge regulatory decisions ahead of other countries. Crypto regulation in the US remains murky today, but Canadian regulators have been able to bring rapid clarity to the issue. 

In 2014, Canada became the first country to approve crypto regulation in the context of anti-money laundering. Through the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), regulators deemed those "dealing with virtual currencies" as money service businesses. They declared that such entities must keep the same record-keeping, verification procedures, suspicious activity reporting, and registration requirements as money service businesses that deal with traditional fiat currencies. 

In the United States, cryptocurrencies are treated much in the same way as in Canada regarding anti-money laundering procedures, despite no official legislation being passed. Instead, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released guidelines stating that crypto entities are subject to the existing Bank Security Act and must register and report as money service businesses. 

Suggested Reading: How is Bitcoin Regulated?

Most recently, Canada became the first country to approve cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds [ETFs]. Exchange-Traded Funds mimic the price of cryptocurrencies and allow investors to buy and sell into the ETF without actually buying into the cryptocurrency itself. It is one way that traditional investors can get their feet wet with the world of crypto.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) approved the first Bitcoin ETF in February 2021 and a handful of Ethereum ETFs just a few months later in April 2021. Meanwhile, the United States is still waiting on the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve its first Bitcoin ETF. 

Suggested Reading: Diversifying Your Portfolio With Crypto

Final Thoughts

While Canada has yet to make crypto decisions as monumental as El Salvador's move to legalize Bitcoin entirely, it has been home to some of the world's most significant moments in crypto history.

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