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Is Canada Bitcoin's Natural Home?

Along with other colonial nations, innovation and the ability to adapt to new technologies and industries have been some of the most paramount features of the Canadian economy and the country itself. The snowmobile was a Canadian invention—perhaps predictably—as were everyday products like the Alkaline battery and canola oil. In more recent memory, the trend has continued, as demonstrated by the fact that the 56K modem that dominated the 1990s was a Canadian invention. The world of communication and computers seems to be of special interest to Canadians too, who gave the world pagers, the Walkie-Talkie and the radiotelephone.

Within the last few years, however, it’s the cryptocurrency Bitcoin that seems to be creeping into the Canadian economy more than the hardware technologies that formed much of the digital world in recent years. Legally considered property in Canada - as opposed to currency - it's essentially a bartered good. As a result, anyone paid in Bitcoin has to report it to the Canadian Revenue Agency valued at a specific rate and is then taxed on that value.

Quite a few online companies, such as Canada-based casino Bodog, are embracing Bitcoin and even offering incentives to entice people to use the token. For example, players who find Bodog bonus code can earn a deposit bonus of up to $900 and play anonymously if they pay with the cryptocurrency. Even a company as large and sometimes unwieldy as American retail giant Amazon is inching in the direction of Bitcoin. While they don’t currently accept Bitcoin payment directly, they do allow people to purchase gift cards using the cryptocurrency, thus de facto accepting Bitcoin.

It’s easy to understand that for massive companies like Amazon, being flexible isn’t always easy. Their efforts to move in the direction of Bitcoin are telling, however; as is the fact that more agile companies, like Bodog or Tinder-rival Badoo, accept Bitcoin. The latter, to illustrate the point, has accepted Bitcoin payment for two years. Canadian eyeglass and contact online retailer, Clearly Contacts, takes Bitcoin too. Smaller companies, too, like the Simon Fraser University bookshop in Vancouver will also trade for the cryptocurrency.

The digital nature of Bitcoin makes it less of a natural choice for brick-and-mortar shops. The idea of using Bitcoin (or, at current rates, a seemingly infinitesimally small fraction of a Bitcoin) at the Starbucks on the way to work might seem laughable. For the record, using iPayYou, Starbucks customers can pay with Bitcoin. Some readers might be able to recall a time just a few decades ago, however, when paying with a credit card — or any form of plastic — was novel and a little mistrusted. As with every technology, it can take years or generations for a public to accept it and, although some are rejected outright, many others, like credit cards, go on to ubiquity.

In many ways, Canada is a country ripe to be paired with Bitcoin. The internationalism and multicultural streaks that typify modern Canada imply strong connections across the world. With many immigrants sending money home to support relatives and friends, and Canada’s trade deals with the European Union, there is tremendous scope for Bitcoin to widely adopted in the Canadian economy.

It may be a while yet before the corner shop has the Bitcoin logo in the window — and, indeed, that may never happen — but as the situation stands today, it looks like more and more companies in Canada will be accepting the cryptocurrency in the hopes of gaining an advantage in this irrevocably globalized market.