Insights & Analyses

IBM, SecureKey partner on blockchain identity service for consumers

March 20, 2017

IBM and Canadian identity and security provider SecureKey on Monday revealed a new partnership that will leverage the power of blockchain to enable a new digital identity and attribute sharing network.

Based on IBM’s blockchain implementation, the network will be designed with consumers in mind, allowing them to easily verify their identity in a secure and efficient manner.

The network is currently in the testing phase in Canada, and will go live in the country later this year. Consumers will be able to opt in to the service with a mobile app, and to control what identifying information they share with organizations of their choice.

Notably, a number of major Canadian banks are part of the digital identity ecosystem, including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD. The banks invested $27 million into SecureKey last October.

SecureKey is also funded in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, which awarded a $800,000 grant in February.

Once the service is live, consumers who have proven their identity with their bank and a credit agency will be able to grant permission to share their data with an outside party — such as a utility company — to create a new account. Because the bank and credit agency have already identified the consumer’s identity, and because those institutions are trusted, the utility can choose to rely on the fact that the information is verified, saving the customer the hassle of proving their identity to apply for service.

“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 for IBM Blockchain. “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.”