The business of bitcoin and other uncommon currency

30 cities worldwide will participate in this month’s Coinfest (April 5–10), an annual cryptocurrency conference founded in Vancouver in 2013.

B.C. is a “hotbed” for financial technology, says SFU’s Mark McLaughlin, who is leading a research study into Vancouver’s bitcoin ecosystem and who last year oversaw the university’s move to accept bitcoin at campus bookstores.

New payment platforms that allow instant dollar conversion (such as one released last November by Vancouver-based Payfirma) are boosting uptake by protecting retailers from bitcoin’s famed volatility, but, says McLaughlin, the real focus of many local startups is the underlying transaction-tracking system, called blockchain, which has the potential to revolutionize how companies manage their records. “It’s being described as what could underpin Internet 3.0,” says McLaughlin. “There is a lot of smart money going into that area.”

82% Increase in global monthly bitcoin transactions in 2015

3,424% Increase in monthly transactions in Vancouver-area bitcoin ATMs run by Alberta-based Bitnational (which manages a third of the city’s machines) in 2015

+36% Change in the value of a bitcoin from January to December 2015

-16%  One-day change on January 16, 2016, after negative comments by a leading developer