Letters from the President: Impactful Trends Underpinning Canada’s Digital Identity Transformation


I’ve worked in digital ID for 15+ years and I’ve seen many new trends emerge, technologies abandoned.  I’ve also seen significant breakthroughs in how the industry thinks about the technical foundations of identity. 2018 has been an exciting year so far. With technology linked to so many facets of our lives, more people than ever before are aware of the technologies they are using now and what technologies will come next. High expectations from users, innovative approaches from companies, and a competitive focus from organizations are creating a perfect storm to accelerate identity technology development and adoption. Here, we take a look at some of the technologies that are looking promising for the next phase of digital ID.

Remixing Blockchain

Blockchain is on the radar for most industries  – and for good reason. It offers a ton of potential and has the potential to embed privacy into the experience from the start. I used to think that blockchain is interesting because, over my career in ID, the technologies we work with tend to be those that are purpose-built for identity. Instead of having a specific purpose and industry-centric development perspective, blockchain has emerged as a non-specific identity technology that has the potential to make a big impact.

That impact has yet to be seen in real world use cases, but its scope and potential are definitely disruptive. Thinking about blockchain more, it is unique for the identity industry because, really, it’s an anti-identity technology. It was created to anonymize financial transactions so, in many ways, it’s not surprising that blockchain is showing up in such a big way in our industry.

While anonymity offers promise in terms of privacy enhancement, a lot of blockchain initiatives  are finding that they NEED to solve for identity. While many blockchain solutions purposefully avoid identifying people to create trusted transactions, many regulated (and non-regulated)  industries require ID for tracking and accountability. This has been an exciting conversation starter and has opened some unexpected dialogues across industries. With everyone exploring blockchain, the role and critical nature of digital ID is gaining even more traction in diverse circles.

An Integrated Ecosystem – Not a Single Solution

In my view, the most exciting breakthrough has been a shift in mindsets rather than a shift in technology: the dawn of thinking of the identity landscape as a network or networks. Building on learning from the identity federation model, networks for attribute verification are the next evolution in digital identity and, in my view, a compelling way forward for impactful change.

From recent events and developments in the community, the big takeaways in terms of network thinking has been that all approaches – from technologies to policies – need to be inclusive, interoperable, privacy-respecting and designed for the long-term.

Introducing Face ID

Biometrics have advanced significantly over the past year and some of the user experience ground has been broken with the introduction of face ID. The technology may not seem earth shattering to average users, but early product integrations have helped the industry to start gauging the efficacy and public reaction to facial recognition – is it creepy or cool? Helpful or not? Just as touch ID got people more comfortable with fingerprint biometrics, face ID may mark the beginning of establishing people’s comfort with and the usability of facial recognition. Tests, integrations, and technologies need to be balanced with our core priorities of security, privacy enhancement, and convenience of use.


We’re thrilled to convene leading organizations that are moving the needle forward toward establishing an ecosystem of interoperabile identity solutions and services that Canadians can use with confidence. The DIACC’s community-first approach ensures that Canada’s participation in the digital economy will be secured by leveraging the strengths of both the public and private sectors to deliver socio-economic growth opportunities to all Canadians from the rural suburbs to our most urban city centres. Be a leader by getting in touch with us to learn more about becoming a member of the community shaping Canada’s digital identity transformation.