Solo effort from government won’t deliver a national digital ID system, says CEO of SecureKey

As our lives become more digitized, a national digital ID system becomes all the more important; a sentiment shared by almost three-quarters of Canadians, according to a study released in October by the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada.

That need for a digital ID system stems from an increased risk of fraud as the world becomes more digital, said Greg Wolfond, the chief executive officer for SecureKey.

Greg Wolfond urges banks and telecoms to step up to the plate. Credit: SecureKey

“Some people believe you can just digitize a driver’s license but that’s not good enough,” said Wolfond, in an interview with IT World Canada. “It (identification) will go digital, which will make things go faster, but will also make fraud go faster if we’re not thoughtful about how to create it.”

Beyond preventing fraud, a 2019 article from the Canadian Bankers Association listed some other benefits of digital ID systems such as cost savings for both the private and public sectors, improved regulatory compliance, enhanced privacy, and preparing the country for the future.


Canadians remain worried about data security: Digital ID survey


But that solution will not be possible through the efforts of the government alone and will require collaboration with the private sector, said Wolfond.

As the founder of SecureKey – a digital identification solution provider –  Greg Wolfond has substantial experience in the area and called on those in the private sector to step up to the plate; specifically banks and telecommunications companies.

“So there’s a lot of press saying, ‘Hey, let’s create this and let’s do it.’ But we think this combination of parties providing is a much better way to go because it’s going to keep Canadians safer,” said Wolfond. “Government plus telco plus banks working together… is the right way to build it. Let’s work together to make it low cost and safe for citizens.”

Those very industries are among the most desired sectors that Canadian consumers would like to see use a digital ID system, according to the same 2019 study.

In order of most desired to least desired, the industries were government agencies (76 per cent), financial institutions (75 per cent), healthcare providers (74 per cent), credit cards (66 per cent), telecom (63 per cent), and e-commerce (63 per cent).

As an example of a successful system set up with government collaborating with key industries, Wolfond pointed to Nordic countries, like Norway and Sweden, where the banking industry has been the main catalyst for a successful digital ID system.

All of that is not to say that doing so would be an easy process. Wolfond said that his company went through a very similar journey when they were establishing their newest digital ID solution: Verified.Me.

Originally slated to launch in November of 2018, Verified.Me was significantly delayed, finally launching in May of the next year.

Wolfond said the delays were directly tied to the difficulties of getting such massive institutions to get on the same page and work together.

“The hard part in dealing with many, many large organizations is getting all the technology integrated with all those places,” explained Wolfond. “Getting all the security reviews done at all of those places. And aligning on ‘Okay, I have enough parties that are connected and ready to go and comfortable with security that we can turn on’. And that sometimes takes a while.”

Although all of this would seem to put a damper on such a system arriving in the near future, Wolfond said “it’s happening over time”.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Buckley Smith
Buckley Smith
Staff writer for IT World Canada. Covering the world of technology as it applies to business. Buckley is an avid sports fan who loves travel, food, and music. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 416-290-2000.

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