The impact of cryptocurrencies on retail in Canada

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are two of the most discussed topics in the world at the moment, be it in Canada or elsewhere. We are slowly seeing the influence of cryptocurrencies on sectors outside of finance and financial markets, and this is only likely to increase as more and more businesses realize the advantages that these two technologies can bring them. One of the sectors where this has been the most widespread is the online gambling industry, especially in Canada. Online gambling was already seeing a resurgence over the last 12 months or so due to the pandemic, aided by the spread of high-speed internet and smartphones. The increased interest in cryptocurrencies meant that quite a few online casinos took advantage of this, and began to offer the option to place bets using cryptocurrencies to users. Such a casino that accepts ETH for players from Canada became very popular, and has shown how cryptocurrencies can have a big impact on sectors outside of finance. Thus, we may see this sort of experience replicated elsewhere as well, and retail seems like one of the likeliest candidates for this.

Retail and cryptocurrencies can actually be used in a very productive and effective manner together. For example, one of the most important demographics that retail businesses need to target in the upcoming months is the younger generation, and one way to connect with them is through cryptocurrencies. For example, the Swedish outdoor goods brand, Fjallraven, was successfully able to appeal to college students through cryptocurrency. It introduced a cryptocurrency called the Fox Coin, based on its own logo of a fox, and encouraged people to ‘hunt’ for it by using their smartphones, with the opportunity to win a Kanken – one of the most popular backpacks by the brand – every day. This was an excellent way to get youngsters interested in their brand, while also getting them to go outside, which is a central theme for the brand as well. Thus, Canadian brands can look at this as an example to increase interest in their offerings.

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Another area where cryptocurrencies and blockchain can help is by improving transparency. More and more people today are concerned about the origins of the product that they are buying, especially if it is an expensive item, and sustainable purchasing is the new trend. Here, blockchain can help – with a QR tag attached to the item, for example, which, when scanned, reveals the entire history of the production process to the customer before they buy it.

Another related sector where blockchain can be a disruptor is the banking sector. Blockchain is being used to improve banking security, especially for retail banking, while other applications, in the areas of risk management and quicker transactions, are also being explored. Blockchain is being deployed for identity verification by some Canadian banks, for example, while others are looking at it to reduce the costs associated with cross-border transactions for customers.

Blockchain and crypto can also be utilised to improve the payments ecosystem for retail operators. More and more people are growing comfortable with the idea of using cryptocurrencies for regular purchases, so it is important for businesses to have the ability to support such transactions. Flexa, which is a company specialising in this, recently launched in Canada, and it will have the capability to enable over 7,500 locations to support cryptocurrency transactions for retail purchases. Birks Group, which is a luxury jewelry brand, recently announced that users could pay with Bitcoin, by using Bitcoin Pay, at certain locations.

Thus, these examples show how cryptocurrencies can help transform the world of retail, not just in Canada, but all over the world, if implemented smartly.

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Cory Weinberg

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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