Identification systems have been based on face-to-face interactions and on physical documents for centuries, but as the world becomes more digital and reliant on technology, these systems need an upgrade.
Leaders from the biggest banks and telecommunication companies (telcos) in Canada are joining forces with the tech industry, academics, and provincial governments in a supercluster bid that aims to tackle the identification challenges associated with a progressively digital economy. This digital identity supercluster bid is in response to the federal government’s Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) that was first announced in the 2016 budget.
Leading the charge is the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), which has put together a nationwide public-private consortium of large and small innovators to create a digital identity ecosystem that will make transacting and sharing personal data online easier and safer.
All the top banks in Canada – RBC, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD Bank, and National Bank – are on board, joining the three largest telcos – Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, and Telus Corp. – as well as academic institutions such as Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of British Columbia, and the provincial governments of Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.
The digital identity supercluster bid was able to raise $185 million of private sector investment for use over five years in just four weeks. Brennan says if it is selected to move on to the second phase – which should be announced any time now – of the initiative, it will have “no problem” hitting the $250 million mark of matchable funds set by the federal government.
Making face-to-face interactions easier is a good place to start. For example, when someone wants to rent a house or apartment, they generally need to provide personal identification like a social insurance number and/or driver’s licence, proof of a good credit score, as well as banking information, to a potential landlord.
Not only is this physical process time-consuming for the potential tenant, it is also paper-based and involves sensitive data, which presents a privacy risk: the documents are often filed away and forgotten about in a desk drawer with little security to keep it out of the hands of criminals, she explains.