Desjardins is throwing its weight behind the digital ID movement in Canada. The financial institution is making a $845,000 contribution to the country’s Digital Identity Laboratory (IDLab), which is located in Gatineau and works to advance the development of interoperable and standards-based digital identities.
To that end, the IDLab offers independent, non-profit testing services to evaluate whether or not various digital platforms live up to a certain security and performance standard. The Desjardins funds will allow the organization to ramp up its efforts, and make it a more permanent part of the Canadian digital identity landscape. In that regard, the IDLab was only established in February 2020, and will use the money to recruit more cybersecurity specialists and solidify its cloud infrastructure.
The IDLab has already delivered digital identity solutions for the federal government, and for the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. Desjardins believes that interoperable digital IDs will serve as the foundation of a modern economy, and make it easier for people to take advantage of a wide range of public and private services.
“Electronic transfers, online shopping, social networks and technology are used in every aspect of Canadian life,” said Desjardins Group President and CEO Guy Cormier. “We need to offer people-centric solutions that give users full control over the data they share. Desjardins Group’s contribution to the Digital Identity Laboratory shows how much we believe in, support and encourage the adoption of best practices in security and privacy protection.”
The news suggests that the digital identity movement in Canada is continuing to gain momentum. The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada has found broad support for digital IDs amongst the general public, while the Canadian Bankers Association has voiced its support for a federated digital ID scheme.
However, there have been a few hiccups in the past few months. Saskatchewan recently suspended its digital ID plans due to privacy and budgetary concerns, while the Ontario Party is currently circulating a petition in an effort to ban digital IDs in the province. Ontario had originally hoped to launch its digital ID in 2021, but the project was delayed when the province decided to prioritize its vaccine passport. The government indicated that the rollout would still take place in 2022, though its websites no longer refer to that 2022 timeline.
The Ontario scheme would have allowed residents to store digital versions of driver’s licenses in a digital wallet on a smartphone. Those IDs could then be presented as valid proof of identity to complete transactions.