Originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse, November 8th.

We have all been on both sides of a classified’s transaction. You have money and you want something, or, you have stuff and you want the money.

The easy part is the stuff and the money; the risky bit is who you are dealing with on the other side of the Internet who wants to do the trade. fb-clipDo you go where they recommend, minimizing the information you reveal about yourself? Or do you demand they come to you to control the environment? Should you scuttle the trade to avoid feeling stupid if things go wrong? Or do you manage the risk by limiting the downside? Who has the time to agonize over all of this?

For sure, there are many stories of Internet trades gone bad that supports this fear. So it comes to this: making a trade at night in front of the police station with a camera to keep everyone honest.

We can do better.

Knowing who you are dealing with is central to trust. In person, online and on the phone.

In Canada, efforts are underway to build a trustable digital identity ecosystem based on community – the relationships each of us have in life.

Digital identity itself may not seem all that interesting. BUT what digital identity does for each of us IS transformational!

Simple things like having comfort in knowing who is coming to your house from the Kijiji ad will be greatly transformed. Having the ability to forward this info to a friend as an additional precaution would be a huge deterrent for those out looking to do harm.

Beyond person-to-person transactions, there are many important uses for digital identity. Things like being able to sign up for a new cell phone service from home. Or opening a new bank account without having to go to the branch. Even booking appointments with your doctor, or seeing your lab results online.

All of these – and many more – with the confidence of knowing your information is secure from prying eyes. All without silly passwords everywhere, or questions about your favourite colour or mother’s heritage.

Your information available only to you, for you to share with the services that make your life work better for you. Using information from your trusted relationships, like your bank, or provincial driver’s license, to prove who you are.

We’re already doing this in the real world, and what we need to do now is bring this capability to the online world. Once we do that, others can trust us (and we can trust others) when we want to transact anywhere – online, in person or on the phone.

We can do better… and we will do better. Soon.

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