Great Canadians in FinTech
To mark Canada’s 150th year, we thought we’d give a shout out to some notable Canucks who are killing it in the financial technology space. Here are the top five that peaked our interest. This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are many more disruptors and ‘shift disturbers’ from coast to coast.
This Russian-born and Canada-raised dual citizen is a FinTech wunderkind. At age six, Buterin’s family moved to Canada. With a keen interest in cryptography and Bitcoin, he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine at age 19, and soon after travelled the world talking code with other developers. Upon returning to Toronto, he authored a whitepaper that would outline the framework for a new blockchain concept. The paper laid out the foundation for how to execute smart contracts and build applications in a decentralized environment. His ambition for this new project lead him to drop out of the University of Waterloo at age 19 (with an impressive 100,000 dollar venture capital injection) and eventually crowdfund 15 million dollars to get this idea off the ground. Ethereum is now the second leading digital currency by market cap at nearly 28 billion dollars and its value has skyrocketed 3000 percent this year.
Tapscott is a co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, along with his father Don. This organization is doing big research on disruptive blockchain applications and how to improve individual privacy in digital spaces; check out Don’s TedTalk! They co-authored Blockchain Revolution, the first best-selling book laying out just how blockchain tech will change the world. Alex is also a founding member of the High Level Advisory Group on FinTech that advises the International Monetary Fund.
Duhaime is a crime-fighting, superhero lawyer specializing in counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering. She’s an expert that the House of Commons Senate might call on when they need the ‘big guns’ to advise on financial crime. The financial landscape is changing rapidly and businesses will need folks like her to keep things above board. She is literally writing the book, the first law textbook of its kind, on digital payment systems. She is also the founder of Digital Finance Institute, a FinTech think tank. One of their projects, “Banking on Refugees”, is researching financial inclusion and payment solutions for refugees using digital currencies and biometric identification.
Lubin was an early contributor and co-founder of Ethereum, and now the founder of Consensys LLC, a Brooklyn-based company that is spearheading the development of dApps, decentralized applications, mostly for the Ethereum blockchain. He’s all-in on this new tech, and says, “if you think the internet has affected your life, Ethereum will have that same pervasive influence on our communications and our entire information infrastructure. It will impact every aspect of our existence.”
Cartwright is co-founder and COO at Finn.ai, a wicked-cool AI based system that integrates banks and mobile apps. This chatbot will lend a robotic hand in queries on account balances, budgeting and customer service. The idea is you can just pop open your chat app and ask your friendly bot, “how much money is in my chequing account?” Boom. Numbers. They teamed up with Alberta bank ATB and have facilitated North America’s first payments using chatbot tech with Facebook Messenger. Beforehand, she managed a 250 million USD investment fund for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in developing nations.
Great work, eh?