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Digital Identity and Credit Unions

February 20, 2019

Paul Gordon, Senior Manager, Managed Services & Network Compliance, Canadian Credit Union Association

It’s 2019 and if you haven’t heard the about the term ‘Digital Identity’ I’m betting that this will be the year where those two words start gaining awareness amongst credit unions. My hope is that after you’ve finished reading this article you’ll want to learn more about why digital identity is important and how credit unions can contribute to what’s happening in Canada in this space. In a way the practical application of a digital identity is long overdue. As the lives of Canadians have become increasingly dependent on doing things digitally, our identities are still largely rooted in the world of either paper-based credentials (e.g. passports and birth certificates) or plastic cards (e.g. driver’s license and health card). Being able to digitally prove who we are and only provide the identity information that’s required for specific events or activities is where we are moving to.

For the last couple of years’, the Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) has been a member of a Canadian consortium in the digital identity space called DIACC, the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada. This group, under the leadership of it’s CEO, Joni Brennan, is comprised of both public and public sector organizations and has been tasked with creating a policy and technology framework for the development of digital identity within Canada. Work on this framework, known as the Pan Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF), has been ongoing for the last few years and is now at the stage where DIACC is looking for feedback from a broader set of stakeholders on it’s scope and structure. To be clear the PCTF isn’t intended to prescribe WHAT identity solutions are built but rather HOW solutions are built. It establishes the foundational principles on which digital identity solutions for Canadians will be created.

As part of this broader public consultation process DIACC recently released a 17-page overview document about the PCTF and has requested comments from interested parties to help shape the framework and its intended purpose in this burgeoning space. As its stated in the overview document “The purpose of the open commentary is to ensure transparency in development and diversity of truly Pan-Canadian input. Comments made during the review will be considered for incorporation to the next draft.” I would highly encourage credit unions to be part of this process by reviewing the summary document and providing your comments to CCUA so that we can provide a consolidated response to DIACC on behalf of the credit union system. Further details on the consultation process as well as the overview document itself can be found on DIACC’s website here. The consultation period ends on Friday, March 15, 2019 so we would ask credit unions to ensure CCUA has your comments and feedback no later than end of day on Tuesday, March 12. Comments can be sent to either Paul Gordon at pgordon@ccua.com or Kevin Morris at kmorris@ccua.com.

DIACC and many other organizations strongly believe that having the right digital identity framework in place has impacts far beyond just individuals and extends into the SME space, financial services, digital commerce, health care, and government services to name a few. Some even go so far as to speculate that Canada’s GDP could be improved by as much as 1% or CAD 15 Billion by having the right digital identity structure in place. It’s hard to ignore those kinds of numbers. This is your opportunity to help ensure that credit unions are part of the discussion.