A long-awaited Canadian mobile digital identity validation service supported by Canada’s biggest banks and telcos will launch this fall, with hopes it will be a big boost to the digital economy.
Called Verified.Me, the service installs an app on a mobile device that confirms a user’s identity, allowing businesses and governments to immediately do transactions without demanding proof of identity.
The fall launch of the service was announced this week at the Identity North conference in Toronto by Andre Boysen, chief identity officer of Toronto-based SecureKey, which operates the network the service runs on.
In addition to banks and telcos – who provide the identity confirmation side of transactions – Boysen hopes the federal and some provincial governments will quickly sign on as well.
“The concept is you can choose to create a digital identity from the trusted relationships you have, like your bank, telco or government. Then you can use it across the [digital] economy,” he told the conference.
The potential for the solution is being explored by a number of organizations. At the conference officials from Ingenico Canada, part of an international company providing secure authentication and payment solutions, and Prodigy Ventures, a Toronto developer with experience in secure ID and mobility, demonstrated a solution to make it easier for a charitable organization to get donations from people on the go. The charity advertises for donations on a large digital screen in a mall or public place, with a QR code for a mobile device with a Verified.Me app to scan. The app confirms ID, makes a donation and emails a receipt to the donor.
Other potential uses range from using the app to prove to a landlord you are a good risk to rent an apartment or opening a new bank account online.
Getting this to market, though, has taken longer than expected. In fact 12 months ago at last year’s Identity North conference backers were hoping it would be live either late 2017 or early this year.
SecureKey made a big splash several months earlier at an IBM conference announcing the companies were working on the platform to enable secure digital identity and attribute sharing using Big Blue’s blockchain service.
In an interview Boysen shrugged the delay off. “As you can imagine, trying to launch an infrastructure as large as this is complex. There are a lot of players. And getting everybody to the starting line at the same time is a challenge, because they need to get confirmation that the security controls are in place, and that the information being shared is proportional to the think consumers actually want to share.”
The Verified.Me platform uses a number of standards including openID Connect (which allows clients to request and receive information about authenticated sessions and end-users), SAML (security assertion markup language for exchanging authentication and authorization data), specifications set by the FIDO Alliance (for authentication) among others. It also borrows from the work of the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) which is designing a trust framework for accessing digital information in the public and private sectors.
IBM’s blockchain is used to hold snippets of code authorizing consent for the use of personal data — but not personal data itself — as well as for network resilience.
Verified.Me will be an extension of SecureKey’s Concierge service, which lets users log into sites like Canada Revenue using their bank login credentials. It’s ideal for a site where the organization asks online for additional information for proof of identity (for example, in Canada Revenue’s case, a number from a line from a previous income tax form). Verified.Me lets a subscriber use an organization’s service for the first time
The goal, Boysen said, is to work beyond creating a secure authentication solution to a website – which is what SecureKey’s Concierge service is, letting you use your bank credentials to log into the Canada Revenue site — to one creates a digital ID. That allows you to make services that need to verify your identity for a transaction as frictionless as possible – booking a doctor’s appointment, exchanging medical files, getting a car loan without going to a bank.
A good part of the success of Verified.Me depends on public adoption. Suzanne Denoncourt, managing director Ingenico Group of Canada, who helped make the charitable donation app demo at the conference, said with the backing of Canadian banks “in all likelihood” there will be mass adoption.
Initially, banks, telcos, an insurance company and, hopefully, governments will be part of the Verified.Me network. That’s enough to start, Boysen said. “Those three players alone get humongous benefit from just participating with each other.”