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IBM and SecureKey Technologies to deliver blockchain-based network for Canadian consumers


March 21, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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IBM and SecureKey Technologies, an identity and authentication provider company, announced on Monday that they are joining forces to “enable a new digital identity and attribute sharing network” based on IBM Blockchain.

“The network will be designed to make it easier for consumers to verify they are who they say they are, in a privacy-enhanced, security-rich and efficient way,” Toronto-headquartered SecureKey said in a press release. “When launched later this year, consumers can use the network to instantly verify their identity for services such as new bank accounts, driver’s licenses or utilities.”

SecureKey reported that the network is currently in the testing phase in Canada, and once it goes live later in 2017, Canadian consumers will be able to opt-in to the new blockchain-based service using a mobile app. Consumers – or network members – will be able to control what identifying information they share from trusted credentials to the organizations of their choice, for those organizations to quickly and efficiently validate the consumer’s identity and arrange new services, the release said.

For example, if a consumer has proven their identity with their bank and a credit agency, they can grant permission to share their data with a utility to create a new account. “Since the bank and the credit agency have already gone through extensive verification of the consumer’s identity, the utility can choose to rely on the fact that the information is verified, and the consumer can be approved for new services.”

Major Canadian banks, including the BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD, joined the digital identity ecosystem in October 2016, investing $27 million collectively in SecureKey. The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Command Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analytics, a research centre of excellence funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, have also provided funding to bring the new approach to digital identity to market.

“What IBM is building with SecureKey and members of the digital identity ecosystem in Canada, including major banks, telecom companies and government agencies, will help tackle the toughest challenges surrounding identity,” said Marie Wieck, general manager with IBM Blockchain, in the release. “This method is an entirely different approach to identity verification, and together with SecureKey, we have a head start on putting it on the blockchain. This is a prime example of the type of innovation permissioned blockchain networks can accelerate.”

SecureKey explained that to create a “highly secure, global and enterprise-ready ecosystem for sharing identity requires both advanced federated identity technology and blockchain technology specifically designed for regulated industries.” Together SecureKey and IBM are developing a digital identity and attribute sharing network using IBM’s Blockchain service which is built on top of the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric v1.0. As a permissioned blockchain, the Hyperledger Fabric is an essential component in delivering services that comply with regulations where data protection and confidentiality matter, SecureKey said.

“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 of SecureKey. “We are very excited to enter into this formal agreement that will benefit consumers around the world.”

Andrew Irvine, head of commercial banking and partnerships with BMO, said that the goal for this partnership is “to accelerate the pace at which we can develop a service to help consumers better manage, protect and control their digital assets and identity, and ultimately provide our customers with greater convenience and a better overall experience.”

Rizwan Khalfan, chief digital officer at TD, added that “helping Canadians control the security of their personal data to reduce the risk of fraud online, in person, or over the phone is innovating with purpose. We are thrilled to work with SecureKey and its partners in the creation of an innovative identity ecosystem designed to allow our customers to digitally and securely validate their identity, when and how they want to.”