A sign advertises a Bitcoin automated teller machine, ATM, at a shop in Halifax on Wednesday, February 4, 2020. Some of Canada's leaders in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector are coming together to launch a non-profit association aimed at moving the needle on regulation of digital assets in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Canadian crypto industry leaders launch Web3 council and push for regulation

Canadian crypto industry leaders launch Web3 council and push for regulation

TORONTO — Some of Canada’s leaders in the blockchain sector launched Tuesday a non-profit association aimed at moving the needle on regulation of cryptocurrencies anddigital assets in this country.

It is called the Canadian Web3 Council and was founded by Connor Spelliscy and Jelena Djuric, both of whom have been working on pushing the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry forward in Canada for the last several years. The council also includes representatives from companies like Wealthsimple, digital collectible business Dapper Labs, financial services firm Ledn and Ether Capital.

“As the industry has grown into a multitrillion-dollar asset class, now is the time for the government to work alongside industry leaders to ensure thoughtful policy is formed,” Spelliscy and Djuric said in a news release.

Web3 describes the next phase of the internet that puts the World Wide Web in the control of people and is powered by blockchain technology.

The council’s first priority is to advocate for a national strategy for cryptocurrency and digital assets,according to the news release.

Canadian entrepreneurs have played a major role in the blockchain and digital asset space, from founding Ethereum to launching popular non-fungible token (NFT) platforms like CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot.

Despite this, the council says Canada has fallen behind other jurisdictions like the U.S. and Europe when it comes to digital asset policies.

Tuesday’sannouncement follows recent calls from the Conservative party for the federal government to create a national framework for the crypto industry.

In addition, federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre has said he would work to make it easier for Canadians to use cryptocurrencies and for crypto companies to operate if he becomes prime minister.

With the official launch of this association, the next step is education and serving as a direct source of knowledge and expertise, Spelliscy said in an interview.

“We want to work closely with Canadian policy-makers so they understand the technology and how it could benefit Canada,” he said. “The industry has its skeptics, but I’m optimistic that with more education on Web3 we can help them understand the technology’s potential.”

Spelliscy also said that the council intends to help develop and grow the Web3 industry in Canada by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

“As a country, we’ll have to move quickly if we want to establish ourselves as a global leader in the space, given that other jurisdictions are ahead of us,” he said.

Mauricio Di Bartolomeo, co-founder of Ledn, said that part of the role of the council is to make sure there is unity in the cryptocurrency and broader Web3 industry.

“We want to have a united voice that can really interact with the government as they look to create a framework that allows this diverse industry to flourish,” he said in an interview.

There are several hurdles facing different segments of the Web3 industry, including accessing the most basic services from the Big Five banks due to a lack of understanding and a view that the industry is too risky, Di Bartolomeo said.

“Most of the top Canadian crypto companies work with U.S. companies,” he said. “This is one of the first things we need to fix.”

He said that clear guidelines need to be given to the banks so they can properly evaluate these cryptocurrency companies and know what to look out for.

Di Bartolomolo said that Canada ultimately needs a set of policies to cover how broad and nuanced the Web3 industry is, not merely a one-size-fits-all approach.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2022.

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press

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