Advisors who want to stay ahead of their game should get savvy about the bitcoin, suggests one legal expert.
Lagging behind its neighbour to the south, Canada is only just acknowledging the growing footprint this digital currency is making, focusing specifically on the potential threats posed. And, typically risk-adverse Canadians are hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, says anti-money laundering specialist and bitcoin legal expert Christine Duhaime.
“The government has been slow into getting around to regulating (bitcoins),” says Duhaime, a Canadian lawyer based out of B.C. “That has resulted in Canadians having a hands-off approach because they don’t want to get into something that they are unsure about and they know it’s not regulated, so they are concerned about that as well.”
Advisors appear to be influenced the same way. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, so to speak. “That’s the issue. They don’t know anything about it and they will only learn about it when they are absolutely forced to or their business is being affected by it,” Duhaime says. “But the thought leaders in the securities business are well aware of it and are investing in it.”
Media coverage is only fueling the tainted view. Bitcoin is likely most remembered from news
reports earlier this year citing the hacking of some of the world's largest exchanges, and bankruptcies of the Japanese-based Mt.Gox and Alberta-based FlexCoin, after the company reported about $600,000 worth of bitcoins stolen from servers.
But, according to Duhaime, there is more to these invisible coins than hacking, money laundering and terrorism. In fact, opportunity awaits, she says, particularly for the wealth management industry. (continued)