Digital transformation is changing the way Canadians access and administer services, conduct business and interact online. The shift from analog to digital is reinforcing the importance of trust, privacy, and digital security while prompting the question: How do we ensure people stay in control of their personal information when transacting digitally?
To answer this question, governments, private sector organizations and consumer associations across Canada are advancing verification and authentication capabilities intended to give users control over their personal information, enable access to services securely and provide peace of mind when transacting online.
In this article you’ll learn:
- What is digital verification?
- The increasing need for digital verification in Canada
- What is the role of Interac in verification?
- From payments to verification, what are the similarities?
- What verification services are available from Interac in Canada?
- The Interac foundation for digital verification
- What does verification mean for online security and privacy?
- FAQs and more info about digital verification in Canada
What is digital verification?
Digital verification can mean many things, but at its essence, it’s a way for individuals to authenticate themselves online, which respects privacy and enables access to a range of services and products. This has application across private and public sectors, with a range of uses intended to simplify and streamline the customer experience.
For example, with secure verification financial institutions can increase their services for customers who prefer to transact digitally by streamlining Know Your Client (KYC) processes. KYC rules require financial institutions to verify an individual’s identity before opening a bank account. Today, this could include in-person verification using paper documentation. Digital verification can help reduce manual processing, generate cost savings, and even allow Canadians to open accounts or register for services without visiting a physical branch.
Trusted verification solutions can also help enable digital transformation within government services. Not only can this remove barriers to access, such as physical location or hours of operation, it can also streamline administrative tasks and reduce backlogs. This is especially important when speed of service is critical.
Verification solutions can also help transform the way businesses deliver services and help reduce the burden of administrative tasks. With increased efficiencies, small and medium-sized enterprises stand to gain $4.5 billion in added value with access to secure, trusted verification solutions.
The increasing need for digital verification solutions in Canada
Canadians are increasingly exchanging personal information, from financial data to their personal credentials, online with regularity. This is combined with an expectation of online service delivery which has accelerated the need for strong digital verification capabilities in the market.
According to an Interac survey, 75 per cent of Canadians surveyed say government services should be accessible online instead of in-person only. However, even in today’s digital-first world much of our processes are analog. This can create inconsistencies and can cause delays when accessing services.
Further, four in 10 Canadians surveyed also said privacy is a concern when accessing government services online. Access to verification solutions can unlock economic prosperity in the growing digital economy — while helping to secure Canadians’ privacy and security.
Verification solutions help support Canada’s growing digital economy by enabling transformation at different levels of business and government and simplifying access for Canadians. In fact, it’s estimated Canada could unlock $15 billion of value to the economy through efficiencies, access, and new use cases.
What is the role of Interac in verification?
You may already be familiar with verification and authentication in Canada if you’ve used Interac sign-in service (Formerly Government Sign-In by Verified.Me) when accessing your Canada Revenue Agency account during tax season, or if you’ve used Interac verification service (formerly Verified.Me) to access banking or other business accounts. This means you verified your identity with approved digital credentials you already trust.
Interac has proven experience collaborating with governments, financial institutions, merchants, businesses, fintechs and more. In 2021, Interac acquired the exclusive rights to NortonLifeLock (formerly SecureKey) identification services in Canada. In 2019, Interac acquired 2Keys, a national leader in enabling secure digital experiences for Canadian governments, financial institutions, and commercial clients.
With our history of providing secure payment services, Interac aims to work with government and industry to provide Canadians with the choice to access services and conduct business online backed by trusted technology and privacy-by-design principles.
From payments to verification, what are the similarities?
Interac has facilitated the exchange of money between Canadians, businesses, governments and financial institutions for nearly four decades. Furthermore, Interac has been securely authenticating Canadians for just as long – with a secure PIN to access their bank accounts, when sending or receiving an Interac e-Transfer payment, and through the Interac Token Service Provider when using debit on a mobile device.
Interac helps keep Canadians’ money secure through world-class privacy, fraud mitigation, governance and digital authentication expertise. We’re building the same security into our verification offerings, underpinned by the Interac network. This will enable Canadians to digitally access a range of services conveniently with a high degree of security.
Plus, we have a proven track record of collaboration with nearly 300 financial institutions connected to the Interac network and over 280 government services relying on our authentication and digital sign-in tools.
What verification solutions are available from Interac in Canada?
Interac verification solutions include:
- Interac sign-in service is a secure, private, and convenient way to sign into online government services without having to create and manage a new user ID or password.
- Interac verification service makes the process of verification smoother for both businesses and consumers, whether online or in person. Interac verification service allows you to authenticate your identity by establishing a secure connection with your financial institution using existing bank login information.
- Interac document verification service enables you to access digital services that require proof of identity without making an in-person visit. Interac document verification uses secure technology to verify you have a valid government-issued ID and that you are who you say you are.
The Interac foundation for verification
Our approach to verification is user-centric, meaning we put the user in control of their personal information, including who can access it and when. Interac is committed to user-centric innovation focused on six core principles:
- Security: Security is the foundation upon which digital trust is built. There’s no single-source repository of information. Instead, an individual’s data is securely encrypted on their device or at a trusted source, like their bank.
- Privacy: Privacy is at the centre of all Interac digital verification activities. Canadians should be in control of their information and how it is shared and used online.
- Innovation & interoperability: Designing for ease of access and connectivity across Canada.
- Access: Simplifying access to digital services to enable Canadians to transact with more confidence.
- Choice: Having digital verification solutions operate alongside traditional methods of authentication gives Canadians greater choice in how they participate in the digital economy.
- Inclusion: Ensuring Canadians have the opportunity to utilize and benefit from digital services.
What does digital verification mean for online security and privacy?
Canadians are increasingly accessing sensitive information and completing transactions digitally – whether filing a tax return, retrieving critical health records, or making a purchase – and need secure solutions they can trust to complete these transactions.
Choosing to digitally verify information can minimize the flow of personal information between the user and the service provider. This helps give Canadians more control over their data, both in terms of how much they share, who they share it with, and how long those organizations will have access.
Physical documents can limit the control we have over our information. Too often this means sharing more information than is necessary, which may put us at an increased risk for fraud.
Consider how verification solutions could improve security and privacy in real estate, for example.
Applying for a mortgage means collecting and sharing copies of sensitive information including drivers’ license, credit history, paystubs and bank statements. These copies may be scanned and sent via email or given to a mortgage advisor to keep on file. But where is that information being stored? Who has access to those files, and for how long? Verification solutions can provide a way for users to share only the minimum information required to complete an online transaction.
How digital verification will work for Canadians, business, and governments in the future
For governments, digital verification solutions can help foster greater efficiency and productivity. One benefit could be the ability to make services more convenient for Canadians to access — from anywhere, anytime.
Businesses could serve the public in new ways – from expanded e-services to enhanced e-commerce, all while benefiting from increased efficiencies and reduced costs.
For Canadians, this could mean increased convenience and accessibility for a variety of business and government services. For example, applying for a mortgage or validating education credentials could be carried out entirely from home without the need to visit an office.
FAQs and more info about digital verification in Canada
Do you have additional questions about digital verification? See below for answers to a few common questions.
Are digital verification solutions coming to Canada?
Many Canadians already use digital verification solutions. Business owners may use Interac sign-in service to apply for grants through the Government of Canada. Shoppers may use Interac verification service to verify retail memberships online and Canadians may use Interac sign-in service to check their credit in real-time or file their taxes with the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Interac and other organizations are working to expand the convenience and security of digital verification across Canada.
How do I sign up for digital verification solutions?
Today, businesses and government services are onboarding verification solutions such as Interac sign-in service to make digital services more secure and easier to access. You may be notified of ways to use your existing accounts — your financial institution credentials, for example — when signing into or accessing services.
Will it be mandatory to use digital verification solutions?
We believe choice is imperative when it comes to transacting online or in-person. Adding digital verification options to analog services provides secure options for businesses and governments to empower consumers with choice in how they transact. Interac services will operate alongside traditional methods of authentication to give Canadians more choice in whether and how they participate in the digital economy.
Myths and misconceptions about digital verification
Finally, let’s try to clear up a few common and potential misunderstandings.
Myth: Digital verification is new and untested.
Fact: Digital verification has been in use for years, around the world and in Canada. Digital verification is already used to verify income tax filers’ identities in Canada, for example.
Myth: Digital verification could be used to invade personal privacy.
Fact: At Interac, privacy is at the centre of our verification solutions. Our goal is to help Canadians maintain control over their personal information, including who can access it and when.
Interac has the ability and expertise to facilitate the flow of information in a digital verification transaction. Solutions such as Interac sign-in service is built so that no party in the service – financial institution, government service, or network operator – have a complete picture of the user’s information and journey.