Canada’s big 5 banks set to back blockchain-based identity service

LAS VEGAS – Toronto-based identity management service provider SecureKey announced on Monday that it’s set to launch a blockchain-based service that will allow consumers to manage what identifying information they share with businesses later this year and Canada’s top five banks will be on board.

The service itself will make use of IBM Corp.’s also just-announced blockchain service for enterprises. Based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0, the service allows developers to quickly build and host secure production blockchain networks on the IBM Cloud. Blockchain is a technology that builds a traceable digital ledger that is shared among all peers who conduct transactions on a network, effectively removing the need for a third party to verify details or facilitate a transaction.

Canada’s top six largest banks by revenue – BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank and TD – joined SecureKey’s digital identity ecosystem last October, injecting $27 million of funding into the company. More funding was kicked in by the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada. SecureKey says that it’s adopted former Ontario commissioner Ann Cavoukian’s Privacy by Design principles in designing the service and is working with other industry regulators.

The concept of the service, managed from a mobile app, is to give individuals control over the personal information that their bank knows about them. For example, if a consumer has just moved and is setting up a new hydro electricity account, they could authorize their bank to share the necessary credentials with the utility provider.

SecureKey says the crux of the value proposition here is to remove friction for consumers as they register for new services, while still maintaining a high level of security to meet regulated industry standards. The network is in its testing phase right now and the launch is planned for later this year.

“Hyperledger Fabric is by far the most advanced permissioned-blockchain technology available today, in my opinion, both in protecting user data and allowing us to work within the context of industry and country privacy laws,” said Greg Wolfond, founder and CEO, SecureKey Technologies in a press release. “Among the many contributors to Hyperledger Fabric including SecureKey, IBM is a standout innovator that has proven that they can rapidly bring blockchain solutions to production. We are very excited to enter into this formal agreement that will benefit consumers around the world.”

For banks that have recently seen at least some of their transactional relationship with consumers disrupted by mobile payment services, it puts them at the centre of a consumer’s commercial relationships and turns them into an ally in ensuring personal privacy. Comments from bank executives in the press release indicate they see the service as a way to improve their customer’s experience with digital services, enhancing their security and privacy.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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