Yesterday, on the 2nd day of EDCON (Community Ethereum Development Conference) 2018 in Toronto, the Beijing-based Huobi, the owner of Singapore-based “Huobi Pro”, the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, announced that it is coming to Canada.
Huobi said that it is expanding its operations to Canada, and that they hope to have an operations center set up in Toronto by the end of this year. This won’t be the company’s first entry into the North American market, however, since later this month, they are planning to launch a US-based crypto-to-crypto trading platform with an office in San Francisco.
According to Huobi Canada’s General Manager, Ross Zhang, this expansion into Canada would include “all the arms of the Huobi Group.” This means that in addition to their crypto trading platform “Huobi Pro”, Canada can expect to see “Huobi Labs” (a blockchain incubator designed to help early stage blockchain startups with funding and advice) open an office in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Huobi Labs already has offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
Zhang, who has worked in Canada for the past 10 years, explained Canada’s attraction for them as follows:
Canada is emerging as a leading blockchain nation, and Toronto is set to become one of the next most active blockchain hubs across North America. Entering the Canadian market will help support Huobi to become the leader in blockchain and cryptocurrency innovation.
He then on went to say that Huobi wanted to work with “regulatory bodies to help the blockchain asset market become more credible so that mass adoption can come sooner.” He also said that they were hoping to work out an arrangement with Canadian banks that would allow them to offer fiat deposits/withdrawals.
Some major banks, such as Toronto-Dominion Bank, have banned or discouraged credit card payments for cryptocurrency purchases. This is not too surprising given the Canadian central bank’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies. On 25 January 2018, Stephen Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada, in an interview on CNBC in Davos, called Bitcoin trading “gambling” and said that he did not see cryptocurrencies as currencies:
They are crypto but they are not currencies… I'm not really sure what they are. They are not assets really … I suppose they are securities technically … There is no intrinsic value for something like bitcoin so it's not really an asset one can analyze. It's just essentially speculative or gambling… I have no doubt that at least for the purposes of consumer protection … We will be developing regulations around this space in due course. But what we are being careful to do here is to not stifle innovation.
As for Coinbase, some Canadians do use it, but it does not support fiat (CAD) withdrawals. Also, for funding, you cannot use bank transfers or credit cards; their support page says: “Coinbase no longer supports linking new credit cards and some card issuers are blocking digital currency purchases with existing credit cards. We encourage affected customers to switch to a debit card instead.”