Both Sides of the Coin

BC Business Magazine - - Editor’s Desk - Nick Rockel, Edi­tor-in-chief bcb@canadaw­ide.com / @Bcbusi­ness

It’s been called a fraud that won’t end well, a fail­ure as a cur­rency and the on­line equiv­a­lent of gold. Of course, I’m talk­ing about the cryp­tocur­rency bit­coin. Those re­cent as­sess­ments be­long to Jpmor­gan Chase & Co. chair and CEO Jamie Di­mon, Bank of Eng­land gov­er­nor Mark Car­ney and Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aire Peter Thiel, re­spec­tively.

Who do you be­lieve? Di­mon has since backpedalled, telling Fox Busi­ness Net­work that he re­grets his out­burst and that blockchain, the on­line dis­trib­uted ledger un­der­pin­ning bit­coin and other dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies, is real. No won­der: like many other big banks, Jpmor­gan Chase has joined the game, de­vel­op­ing its own blockchain tech­nol­ogy for fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

In­vestors of all stripes are jump­ing on the crypto band­wagon, too, at their own risk. For those who sub­scribe to War­ren Buf­fett’s maxim that you shouldn’t back a busi­ness you can’t un­der­stand, cryp­tocur­ren­cies raise a red flag. Even if you do grasp the tech­nol­ogy, bit­coin—which was trad­ing be­low US$7,000 at press time, af­ter peak­ing at al­most US$19,500 last De­cem­ber—is a spec­u­la­tive bet.

All of this left us cu­ri­ous about how B.C. fits into the cryp­tocur­rency pic­ture. In “New Kids on the Block” (p.26), my pre­de­ces­sor Matt O’grady de­liv­ers a thought­ful take on that ques­tion by pro­fil­ing sev­eral Van­cou­ver play­ers. O’grady fo­cuses on Sean Clark, whose pre­vi­ous ven­ture, on­line mar­ket­place Shoes.com, crashed and burned early last year. Un­daunted, the en­tre­pre­neur is back with First Block Cap­i­tal, a firm he co-founded with Dutch in­vestor Marc van der Chijs.

Bit­coin and blockchain of­fer Clark a shot at redemp­tion, but what about their dark side? Go­ing back to the bad old days of the Van­cou­ver Stock Ex­change, B.C. has been a haven for fi­nan­cial scam­mers and fraud­sters, and lack of reg­u­la­tory scru­tiny around dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies leaves in­vestors vul­ner­a­ble to pump-and-dump and other schemes. For­tu­nately, ex­perts like lawyer Chris­tine Duhaime, also fea­tured in our story, aim to hold swindlers ac­count­able.

On page 37, we in­dulge our cu­rios­ity in an­other way by launch­ing the first edi­tion of BC City Guide. With our an­nual Best Cities for Work in B.C. rank­ing turn­ing five this year, we de­cided to boost cov­er­age of the com­mu­ni­ties that ap­pear on the list, from the Lower Main­land to Van­cou­ver Is­land to the North­east. By look­ing at them as places to live, work and in­vest, BC City Guide helps ful­fil our man­date to rep­re­sent the en­tire prov­ince. Thank you to con­trib­u­tors Melissa Ed­wards and Dee Hon, and to as­so­ciate edi­tor Felic­ity Stone and as­sis­tant edi­tor Nathan Cad­dell, for mak­ing it a re­al­ity.

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