Canada – A Nation of Digital Identity

Alex Benay describes how a national Digital Identity program is a keystone foundation for a Canadian digital economy blueprint, enabling Canada’s trusted digital identity vision.

As Neil Parmenter from the Canadian Bankers Association explains it would provide a universal framework, an ecosystem, for accelerating digital capabilities across all industries such as Digital Banking.

The concept of an ‘Identity Metasystem’ has been under development for twenty years. Microsoft Identity guru Kim Cameron defined in 2006:

The Identity Metasystem is an interoperable architecture for digital identity that assumes people will have several digital identities based on multiple underlying technologies, implementations, and providers.

Building the Canadian Identity Metasystem

In their blog ‘Why Canada Needs a Digital ID Framework‘ DIACC describes a compelling argument for accelerating the development and adoption of a Canadian digital identity system.

The mission of the DIACC is to unlock interoperable capabilities of the public and private sector to secure Canada’s full and beneficial participation in the digital economy by fulfilling the following strategic goals aligned with their 10 Principles for an Identity Ecosystem.

DIACC estimates a $15 billion value to the Canadian economy through implementation of this ecosystem, building a rising tide that floats all boats of improved trust and security across government, banking and other online transactions.

For example they highlight that during this time of coronavirus crisis there is a massive rise in remote working, a trend that is likely to continue, and that too presents risks that identity would address. Canada as a nation of digital identity would be better prepared to continue working in the event of future crisis and is thus a critical infrastructure that should be invested in accordingly.

Spotlight on Mastercard

One example of a member participating in DIACC is Mastercard, demonstrating the point that banking would be one of the industries that benefits from the rising tide. Canada has fallen behind in key markets like Open Banking and it is a trend where identity is a central enabler.

They describe:

Identity is what makes our existence in the world official: it is how countries recognize and see us, and it establishes citizens’ rights to national benefits. It is also the foundation for participating in the economy, and more importantly, to help grow the economy.

and their own identity standards, notably their model for digital identity, a method for embodying privacy-by-design and enabling digital interactions to occur with minimal data exchanged and only when needed. It will safeguard data and the use of data effectively such that the users are in control, with a person’s identity securely bound to their smartphone.

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