Guy Cormier, the President and CEO of Desjardins Group, met with Quebec lawmakers last week to push for improved digital ID procedures.
His appearance comes a few weeks after Desjardins revealed that as many as 4.2 million of its customers — over 1 million more than initially thought — were affected by a data breach that was reported earlier this year.
“At the moment, we register our information on different networks with government documents that were designed for other reasons, during a different time,” said Cormier. “We’ve built a whole set of security measures to protect this. But that’s not optimal.”
Desjardins is the largest federation of credit unions in Canada, and Cormier’s decision to champion digital ID procedures could play a large role in pushing Canada toward the adoption of new technologies that do away with paper-based methods of registration in efforts to provide further protection of people’s data in financial sectors.
“There are countries around the world that have taken the lead on this,” Cormier told reporters after the hearing. “What I’m telling legislators today is to look at the problem beyond what happened at Desjardins and approach it more systemically.”
Biometric identity verification is a growing trend in many countries, including places like India and Argentina. In several U.S. states, pilot projects to allow official government identification to be displayed on smartphones are underway, and in New South Wales, Australia, it is now acceptable to use a smartphone as a form of valid government ID.
Desjardins’ data breach is still the subject of a police investigation, but reports from Cormier have pointed the cause of the breach to a former Desjardins employee he described as a “data expert” with “several years of experience”.
In his appeal for progress toward new digital ID procedures, Cormier pointed to a recent study conducted by the federal privacy commissioner that concluded that 28 million Canadians have been affected by data breaches in the past year.