With IBM partnership, SecureKey enters next phase of developing secure digital identity network


Toronto-based SecureKey is partnering with IBM to develop a digital identity network based on IBM’s blockchain technology.

The network will make it easier for customers to securely verify their identity with IBM’s blockchain service, which is built on the Linux Foundation’s open source HyperLedger Fabric 1.0. The company says Hyperledger Fabric, as a permissioned blockchain, is essential to delivering services that can comply with data and confidentiality regulations.

“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 Technologies. “Among the many contributors to Hyperledger Fabric including SecureKey, IBM is a standout innovator that has proven that they can rapidly bring blockchain solutions to production. We are very excited to enter into this formal agreement that will benefit consumers around the world.”

“We don’t believe in…creating honeypots of data that could get broken by quantum.”

This network is part of the digital identity ecosystem SecureKey is developing with many of Canada’s big banks — including CIBC, BMO, Desjardins, TD, and Scotiabank — following their investments in SecureKey’s $27 million Series A. Wolfond says that they’ve already done the first phase of testing with the banks, with this attribute sharing network being its next phase of testing.

At the time that SecureKey announced its Series A, Wolfond suggested that the company isn’t just trying to build a product, but an entire identity verification ecosystem that leverages the security of banks, telcos, and the government. He gives the example of a person who wants to open a mobile account with Rogers; rather than going through an extensive identity verification process, they can get their bank to verify that information in a short amount of time.

“We really are starting to hone our methods…and take the friction out of these processes, and let a user prove who they are, but make sure it’s in a really trusted and private way. So I don’t want TD bank knowing that I’m going to a cancer care clinic, and I don’t want other people knowing [where I’m going], that’s like what Google and Facebook would do,” said Wolfond. “The banks and the telcos and people participating in this are saying ‘look, this is the user’s data, let them share it where they want with power and security.'”

The network is expected to go live later in 2017. Customers will be able to opt-in to the blockchain service using a mobile app, and can then choose what identifying information they share with institutions to quickly verify their identity.

As the rise of quantum computing poses a threat to cybersecurity systems, Wolfond said that SecureKey’s power is in its networked approach to storing data.

“We don’t put a lot of the data out there where someone could use quantum and get at it; we have a unique privacy approach where TD’s data should stay at TD, and Rogers data should stay at Rogers, and we can enable sharing but we don’t believe in putting data all over the place and creating honeypots of data that could get broken by quantum,” said Wolfond. “We’re big believers in: ‘As a consumer I should keep my data in different places and not in one place, so if a hacker gets in through the firewall or the back door, it’s exposed.'”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.