Bitcoin Fever Makes Pot Stocks Yesterday’s News in Canada


The country that brought you the first marijuana unicorn is plunging headlong into the next big thing: cryptocurrencies.

Little-known Canadian stocks such as Hive Blockchain Technologies Ltd., Glance Technologies Inc., and NetCents Technology Inc. have surged as much as 20-fold this year, giving retail investors a way to embrace the mania without actually having to buy bitcoins. 

The country counts at least eight cryptocurrency-related stocks with a market value totaling about C$2 billion ($1.6 billion), making it a burgeoning hub for bitcoin listings. And there may be more ways to invest soon: At least two Canadian firms have filed to launch what could be among the first bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

Canada’s stock markets are no strangers to investing fads, with cobalt, lithium and marijuana stocks all bubbling higher this year. The country’s TSX Venture Exchange has been dubbed the “wild west,” the penny stocks among its more than 1,700 listings gyrating wildly from one day to the next.

Cryptocurrency experts say the fast-evolving bitcoin sector is a classic case of buyer beware, not unlike the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s when shares would spike in value simply because a company had “.com” in its name. Bitcoin, one of several digital currencies, briefly topped $11,000 on Nov. 29 and was trading at about $10,780 on Friday, up roughly 11-fold this year.

“There is an arbitrage that comes from being a public company with ‘something blockchain’ in the name,” said Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP in London. “The demand is really high for anything crypto and the supply is very low, so you’re not really winning on your merit, you’re just winning because of the market dynamic.”

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The market is crying out for a “traditional vehicle at a really low price point,” like an exchange traded fund, he said. “Make the whole thing boring and vanilla and remove the mystery of it.”