Written by Andrew Seale

It seems to be that most of those responsible for building Toronto’s reputation in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere started out as skeptics. And rightly so. Bitcoin, the most well-known form of cryptocurrency (think: electronic cash) built on the blockchain, first cracked headlines as the currency of choice for criminals on the black market.

The bad reputation was infectious, says Jai Waterman, co-founder of Toronto-based Blockstation, an ecosystem for the digital asset trading sphere. Waterman first dipped his toes in the digital currency sphere while working in the diamond industry. “What would eventually happen is the FBI would kick down your door and that digital currency and anything you had would be gone.”

Adam Goldman, who would go on to found Bitbuy – one of Canada’s key cryptocurrency exchanges – says he “didn’t think much of it at first.” But quickly he reconsidered, seeing the power of one-way mathematics being utilized to protect users. “Millions of eureka lights went off and I understood, at least at a very broad level, that blockchain tech was going to be as disruptive as the world wide web.”

Today, Toronto is an ecosystem at the centre of the blockchain revolution.

Decentral2One of the frontrunners in the global blockchain sphere ethereum, dreamt up by Russian Canadian Vitalik Buterin, was launched out of Decentral (also home to the country’s first Bitcoin ATM) – an innovation hub for disruptive and decentralized technologies. And countless other startups laying the infrastructure for a decentralized future call the city home.

“In terms of blockchain, Toronto is huge,” says Anthony Di Iorio, a crypto pioneer, co-founder of ethereum, and founder of Decentral. “The amount of recognition Toronto and Canada is getting in the technology space and having big events such as Collision coming here and Elevate, it's on the radar and people are setting up shop here.”

The Blockchain Research Institute, an independent, global think-tank, co-founded by crypto evangelists Don and Alex Tapscott is located here, bringing some of the world’s best minds in blockchain to Toronto.

“A lot of companies that started a long time ago here in Toronto are still (around),” says Edward Buchi, co-founder of Bitcoin Bay, a blockchain and decentralized technology consulting firm that also hosts events for the community. He says there’s a sense of camaraderie amongst competitors and collaborators alike.

“We keep each other accountable, we always know what each other’s project is doing, we go to each other's events, we promote and encourage each other,” adds Buchi. “I think that will help make Toronto grow into the future.”

The world today is a lot different than it was a decade ago when Bitcoin launched. And Di Iorio says he suspects we’ve never been more ready to embrace decentralized technologies like blockchain.

“We're seeing more and more people question why it is they're not in control of their data and information and why it is companies they're entrusting their information with are getting hacked all the time,” he says. “That's the philosophies of these technologies… they empower you to be your own bank (and) empower you to be in control of your digital life.”

Toronto is helping to lead the revolution.

StartUP HERE Toronto Spotlight On Blockchain:

Photos by Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)