Canada has embraced bitcoin and been ahead of the global curve when it comes to investment and innovation. A few months ago, the Toronto Sun reported that Canada was the second most popular nation for capital bitcoin investment. In May 2014, $10.5 million had been invested in bitcoin in Canada, second behind only the U.S. and just ahead of China.
The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada was created to educate Canadians about digital currencies and advance their use throughout the country. There is a growing community of Canadians using and discussing digital currencies, and the momentum shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
In June, Canada became the first country to enact national regulations pertaining to bitcoin and other digital currencies. Under Bill C-31, dealing in digital currencies is now subject to record keeping, verification procedures, suspicious transaction reporting and registration requirements as a “money services business.” Bitcoin dealers are additionally required to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and that includes companies based in countries outside Canada as well. Furthermore, banks will only be able to do business with bitcoin dealers who have registered with FINTRAC.
Canada was also at the forefront with bitcoin ATM machines, holding the distinction as the first country to host a bitcoin ATM. The Robocoin machine was installed and became operational in Vancouver back in October 2013. The Bitcoin ATM map below shows that bitcoin ATMs can now be found all over Canada and North America.
CAVIRTEX, a Calgary company, is in the midst of installing their two-way digital currency ATM machines in high traffic tourist spots all over Canada, particularly in the greater Toronto area. The company partnered with BitAccess and North American retail chain Gateway Newsstands to bring the machines, and by extension digital currencies, to the general Canadian public. The ATMs are connected directly to CAVIRTEX’s online exchange and are located in such hotspots as Casino Niagara and Scarborough Town Centre.
Map of Bitcoin ATMs throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. (Source: CoinDesk)
SALARIES PAID IN BITCOIN
It has become trendy for Canadians to get paid in bitcoin for their work, with citizens opting for the digital currency over Canadian dollars in increasing numbers. According to Shrad Rao, CEO of Ontario payroll firm Wagepoint, ten separate firms have signed up for the bitcoin payment option and others have regularly been inquiring about adding it.
In most instances, since the Canadian government views bitcoin as property rather than currency, a company paying employees in bitcoin would be considered a “barter exchange.” However, Wagepoint takes taxes out in Canadian dollars beforehand and then the remainder is paid out to the employee in the digital currency. The majority of the firms using the bitcoin payment option are understandably technology companies.
BITCOIN ON CAMPUS
Simon Fraser University, located in British Columbia, looks to be at the vanguard of bitcoin in higher education. The University has a student-run bitcoin club, which has spearheaded an initiative to get bitcoin ATMs installed on one of its campuses. The club's goal is to allow students to use bitcoin to pay for food and other items on campus. There are also plans to have the school’s on-campus bookstores accept bitcoin.
BITCOIN PURCHASE POWER
Last month, Newegg.ca expanded their bitcoin payment capabilities to include customers in Canada. The company offered an impressive 30% discount to any Canadian customer paying with bitcoin, encouraging use of the digital currency on its site. Bitcoin purchase options are not limited to technology companies in Canada. Bitcoin marketplace site BitPremier is currently offering for sale an actual Yukon gold mine which can be purchased entirely in bitcoin.