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The 2022 conference was full of creative ideas and visions for what the industry could become and left a needed sense of optimism after a challenging year.

Sometimes it takes gathering as a community to realize just how far we’ve come. The blockchain industry in Canada has gone through major booms, huge market upheavals, had to navigate the challenging realities that come with being an integrated (and important) part of our country’s economy.

At Blockchain Futurist, which took place from August 9th-10th in Toronto, we had the full spectrum of our country’s industry in one place, from crypto exchanges and blockchain platforms to business and government leaders. It was an important event for the Canadian Blockchain Consortium to highlight the work our team has done to support our ecosystem and its innovation – and left us excited for the future.

Canada’s largest blockchain conference was full of optimism this year, and it felt a little like crypto winter might be starting to turn to spring. “For the first time in a long time, people were inspired again”, said one attendee, and I couldn’t agree more. With a party atmosphere and some big sponsorship dollars, it took place at two celebrity-loved clubs in downtown Toronto, with plenty of signs of the industry’s success like yacht parties, helicopter rides and prominent luxury cars.

With Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin as the headline speaker, the impending Merge – the platform’s shift from proof-of-work to its new proof-of-stake Beacon chain – was a key topic, and he even poked fun at people using his platform to “trade monkey pictures” rather than promote real social change.

The 2022 conference was full of creative ideas and visions for what the industry could become and left a needed sense of optimism after a challenging year.

Interoperability was another major theme, with the rapid scaling of the DeFi markets requiring new and innovative ways of transferring value from chain to chain. Privacy was also a big focus of the conference, with zero-knowledge proofs and other trust protocols highlighted as a critical area that will help make decentralization safer for sensitive data – which is essential for the rising adoption in the corporate world.

And from what we saw at the conference, traditional business was representing at an unusually high degree for a blockchain conference. In an article in Coindesk, Futurist organizer Tracy Leparulo – who has been developing the event since 2013 – said that she has never seen such a big turnout from traditional capital markets, including stock exchanges and investment groups.

In fact, according to asset management firm Wave Financial, more institutional investors than ever are taking big crypto positions, and are starting to seen the downturn as a big potential buying opportunity rather than a risky bet.

Government was also engaged at the event – at least, some of its most innovative and forward-thinking members. The Consortium was thrilled to have Michelle Rempel Garner as the honored guest at our dinner event at beautiful Casa Loma, which brought together major leaders in the industry to discuss the future of blockchain in Canada.

A force for supporting technology and financial innovation in Canada, she pioneered Bill C-249 in February of this year, which would create a platform for consultations between the blockchain industry and government, and lower barriers to entry for companies seeking to innovate in the space.

Through her efforts, the House debated the first bill on crypto since the Satoshi whitepaper was published this year. Her work has been essential to raising awareness of the multi-billion-dollar economic importance of blockchain and the danger of losing our talented companies and people to other hubs in Europe, the US and Asia. Of course, she got a standing ovation at our dinner!

The Consortium was also thrilled to support the official Futurist afterparty with Virgo CX, our new Platinum Member, and we’re excited for the role they will play in making our ecosystem stronger. The new Chair of the Consortium’s Inclusion Committee, Niki Marie Eckardt, and I hosted a Virgo CX panel on the future of cryptocurrency in five years, where we covered fascinating topics like government adoption of Bitcoin, Web3 regulation, and what will drive more people to use crypto in their daily lives.

One of the things I was the most excited to see on stage at Blockchain Futurist was a big focus on inclusion, an often-overlooked ingredient to the industry’s long-term success. There was an impressive amount of female representation at the conference, including a record 13 women-led projects in the Hackathon submitted by the amazing team at Cryptochicks.

Ensuring that our industry represents everyone in our ecosystem, and helps people from underrepresented groups succeed, is a big part of the Consortium’s mandate, and we’re looking forward to an amazing fall launch of our Inclusion Committee and its ground-breaking projects.

It was interesting to see so many new people at the conference – not surprising when studies show that by the end of the year, a billion people around the world will be crypto users, due to a record 178% adoption growth over this year. The industry is at a crossroads, where it rapidly needs to develop the compliance, at-scale technologies, and user value that will make it enduring part of our economy.

After the conference, it was hard not to imagine a future where blockchain is truly integrated into the way we live and work, and I left with a sense that the momentum is only going to continue. The Consortium has expanded to chapter heads across the country, each division running their own projects and events, and we’ve been fortunate to expand our memberships significantly to be able to fund the next stage of our organization’s development.

2022 has been a year that tested the endurance of our industry, but evolution is always a process of steps forward and steps back, and I think we’re emerging from the collapses even stronger, with better projects, safer regulations, and a new priority of delivering real business value, rather than buzzwords. While it’s impossible to know for sure what the future holds, if the creativity and brilliance of Canadian blockchain at Futurist is any indication, I think we’re going to have an incredible 2023.