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Looking Forward: Digital Identity is Everything

Andre Boysen, Chief Identity Officer, SecureKey Technologies

Odds are you’re one of the 8-million people who has been using SecureKey’s services for years without even knowing it. Since 2012, their digital identity service has provided Canadians the ability to access their Canada Revenue Agency accounts (and a number of other federal services) using their bank login. It’s a perfect use case to illustrate the digital identity problem.

“The challenge they had,” says SecureKey’s Andre Boysen, “is when you and I and everyone else want to access services online at government, we haven’t been there for a year. So every single time we come to the CRA, we forgotten our password.”

Not unlike SSO login options that allow you to sign in using your Google or Facebook account, SecureKey’s web-based Concierge platform allows you to log in to government sites using your bank ID – a password that you already use regularly and (hopefully) treat with high degree of security. The difference is, unlike Facebook or Google, Secure Key never sees your information, nor does your bank know which service you’ve logged in to, nor does the government know which bank (or other identity provider) you used to authenticate your identity.

“This has been transformational for the government,” Boysen says. “The number of people doing transactions online has increased dramatically, and, more importantly, their costs have come down, and their business confidence that Andre is actually Andre has gone way up.”

Early in 2019 SecureKey will be rolling out Verified.Me, a native mobile app that allows users to provide and manage verified identity profiles from a network of Tier 1 banks, telcos, governments, credit agencies and more (full disclosure: TWG is one of several authorized Verified.Me implementation partners). As a mobile-first identity product, SecureKey envisions a wide range of practical and effective real-world applications.

“What this means as Canadians, you can choose your favorite bank and telco and I can choose my favorite back my favorite telco to assemble a digital identity that allows you to prove your identity and a trustworthy way. Perhaps you’ve got an apartment listed for sale that I want to rent. Today we find each other on Kijiji, and you as a landlord and me as a tenant both have a problem. I want to make sure that you actually own this place and you’re not trying to trick me out of first and last month’s rent. And you want to know that I’ve got good credit, that I’m trustworthy.”

“This service is designed to give both parties in this transaction trust that they can do this deal, two people who have never met. So when I can provide my income details from my bank, and proof of my cell phone and my credit score to you, as a landlord, you’re gonna have good confidence that I’m a good credit risk, I can close the deal with you right there in the apartment.”

Verified.Me already has all major Canadian banks and telcos integrated into the platform, and over 80 government services — both federal and provincial — will be available at launch. The core value of the platform is its ability to provide a digital verified identity, and the assurance that the 3rd-party information provided by the customer can be trusted.

“In order for me to get a bank loan today, if I’m a small business operator in Canada, I won’t have a typical T4 from a large company, so when I go to the bank, they don’t always believe my income. With this new service that’s emerging if I can prove who I am to CRA, and they can have confidence Andre is Andre, CRA now can give me a digitally-signed claim back proving my income from last year, I can now give this over to the bank and an electronic format.”

“This does several things for the bank — it takes their costs down, their business confidence in the information is higher, because it can’t be altered. It’s been signed by the government, and the number of people that successfully complete the process is actually going to be much, much higher. That’s not (just) about identity, that’s about taking taken transaction friction away, so consumers can do the things they want to do online that they can’t do today.”

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SecureKey Technologies
  • Headquarters: Toronto
  • Employees: 100-250
  • Founded: 2008
  • Funding: $100M+
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