Deloitte's Toronto office has a new bitcoin automatic teller machine (ATM), also known as a BTM. The company's first machine is located in city’s Financial District at the intersection of Yonge and Adelaide. “Enter the Deloitte entrance off Yonge St. and go up the escalator,” tweeted the firm's blockchain team, Rubix by Deloitte (Rubix).
Deloitte is comprised of the UK private company, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, and a network of independent member firms. Following a revenue announcement on Wednesday, Deloitte has overtaken PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as the largest of the 'Big Four' accounting firm by revenue, earning US$36.8 billion last year. PwC has yet to release its 2016 earnings, but generated US$35.4 billion in 2015. The Canadian member firm of Deloitte, Deloitte LLP, has 56 locations and 8,820 employees and headquarters in Toronto. The firm reported annual revenue of $2.088 billion in 2015.
Deloitte founded Rubix in 2014, exclusively to develop enterprise blockchain applications. “Rubix bridges the gap between the exponentially innovative nature of blockchain technology and the complexity of existing enterprise system environments,” states the website.
“The goal is to make bitcoin more accessible so that users can experience blockchain technology first hand,” explained Iliana Oris Valiente, the original founder and strategy leader of the Rubix team. This will “deepen their understanding and ultimately increase adoption,” she added. The BTM only needs a mobile phone number to be used.
“The first step toward wider blockchain adoption is knowledge, and the logical entry point is to first understand how bitcoin works.”
- Iliana Oris Valiente, Rubix by Deloitte team original founder and strategy leader
The bitcoin-dispensing machine was manufactured by Bitaccess, an Ottawa-based bitcoin ATM maker founded in 2013. The company’s base model sells for $7,000 CAD. Rubix has been collaborating with the start-up over the past few months.
“Deloitte has shown themselves to be a leader in financial innovation through their Rubix team,” said Bitaccess co-founder Moe Adham. “Partnering with Deloitte on this project is a natural fit for Bitaccess. It further advances our mission to commercialize blockchain technologies.”
The BTM industry has been growing steadily in recent years. An independent BTM information portal, CoinATMRadar, shows that new BTMs are installed globally at a rate of 1.29 per day. A global total of 775 BTMs are shown on the site at press time, having nearly doubled over the past year.
62 of the machines are manufactured by Bitaccess, located in 11 different countries throughout North America, Europe, and Thailand. The site lists a total of 17 manufacturers and 28 operators of BTM networks. Giving Bitaccess an 8% market share. The company is the fourth largest BTM manufacturer behind Genesis Coin, Lamassu, and General Bytes.
Deloitte’s BTM adds to the existing list of 12 BTMs in downtown Toronto. The surrounding cities bordering Toronto together offer 31 BTM locations, giving Deloitte’s new machine plenty of competition.
Canada has been the primary proving grounds for BTM adoption, ever since the world’s first BTM was installed in downtown Vancouver, at Waves Coffee shop in October 2013. The price of a bitcoin was US$200 at the time. The very next day, bitcoin began its steepest climb ever, reaching its all-time high of $1,200 within a month.
The Canadian government offers an extra light regulatory environment. There is no regulation for BTM machine owners or manufacturers, since they are not considered money transmitters. However, there are proposed regulations on digital currency businesses.
A July 2014 economic action plan proposed that existing Money Service Businesses, who deal in “virtual currencies,” should register themselves with FINTRAC, in order to fight money laundering and become compliant with the Terrorist Financing Act.
By increasing access and understanding of bitcoin, Deloitte hopes that people will be “better prepared to embrace and respond to the advancement of blockchain,” according to Ian Chan, Partner and Deloitte’s Exponentials and Innovation Leader.
“Our research shows that rapid advances in technology are disrupting many industries here in Canada and bringing significant changes to our business landscape.[...] Blockchain is one such exponential technology.”
- Ian Chan, Partner and Deloitte’s Exponentials and Innovation Leader
Many regulators, companies, and academic institutions have said blockchain has the potential to disrupt various industries. In July 2015, Deutsche Bank Research called blockchain technology “one of the first truly disruptive ideas from the fintech sector.” In December 2015, Goldman Sachs' Equity Research published a report claiming that "The Blockchain Could Disrupt Everything." The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania published an article in May, on “how blockchain technology will prove to be a major disruptor to the public and private sectors, starting with the financial services industry.”
A Deloitte report published in March, ”Beyond bitcoin: Blockchain is coming to disrupt your industry,” explores blockchains' disruptive potential by sector. The firm examines six sectors including financial services, technology, media, communications, the public sector, energy and resources.
“To avoid disruptive surprises or missed opportunities, strategists, planners, and decision makers across industries and business functions should pay heed now and begin to investigate applications of the technology,” the report concludes.