Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Other Date: January 2018

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The advanced security technology has applications in sectors from banking and health care to energy and agriculture.

The Canadian financial technology (fintech) industry saw tremendous growth in 2017 and continues to advance, with companies spread across Canada’s major fintech hubs of Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. The number of companies across Canada has grown from approximately 40 in 2015 to over 250 startups in 2017. This growth has been fed by venture capital: $1 billion USD was invested into Canadian fintech companies between 2012 and 2016. According to MaRS, Canada’s leading tech accelerator, by 2018 fintech investment in Canada will be valued at $14.8 billion.

With the evolution of bitcoin/cryptocurrency, the fintech industry relies on the use of blockchain technology. Blockchains are fully secured public ledgers that record transactions exchanged on a network (block) that is shared and administered among many users. Each new block is attached to the block before it, forming a chain going all the way back to the first block on the network. Once data is entered on a blockchain, it is secure and unalterable, and provides a permanent record. Blockchains provide security, transparency and trust with applications used in various online transactions not only in the financial sector, but with opportunities across a wide range of other sectors too: banking, transfer of funds to government, advertising, hospitality, health care, energy, food and agriculture, music distribution and more.

The global blockchain market was valued at $216.1 million in 2016, and is projected to reach $9.6 billion by 2024. Canada is home to many businesses in blockchain, and the technology is attracting major investments, driving large research programs and exploratory discussions with the federal government. The Canadian government has plans to establish a number of technology superclusters across the country under the umbrella of the Innovation Superclusters Initiative. The Toronto area is expected to play a prominent role in the initiative, which could see a large portion of $950 million invested in blockchain technologies.

Canadian banks are also exploring blockchain technology, with one of the large banks, RBC, experimenting with blockchain to help move payments between its U.S. and Canadian banks. It is also looking to use blockchain to improve its rewards and loyalty offers and trade finance capabilities.

Blockchain is a developing concept/process in many industries. However, there are industry sectors where we anticipate potential future opportunities for Wisconsin companies such as in health care, pharmaceutical, payment technology, research and development, and the supply chain industry.