IBM, SecureKey Technologies, use blockchain to beef up security

Tech giant IBM plans to overhaul digital identity security and fraud protection in financial services via blockchain technology and mobile applications, in a move that it says could foreshadow a change to banking in Europe.

IBM plans to work with Canadian online identity and authentication specialist SecureKey Technologies 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”. 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.

“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,” the partners announced.

“SecureKey has developed 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.”

“The new network is currently in the testing phase ahead of going live later this year, when 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 organisations of their choice, for those organisations to quickly and efficiently validate the consumer’s identity and arrange new services. 

As an 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.

“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, IBM Blockchain.

“This 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.”

Greg Wolfond, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), SecureKey Technologies, added: “This 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.”

Major Canadian banks, including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank and TD joined the digital identity ecosystem in October, 2016, investing US$27m collectively in SecureKey.

The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Command Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analytics (CCICADA), a research centre of excellence funded by the US Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, have also provided funding to bring the new approach to digital identity to market.

“Our 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,” said Andrew Irvine, head of commercial banking and partnerships, BMO Bank of Montreal.

 

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