How digital identity providers can help during the COVID-19 crisis
March 8, 2020

We are in unprecedented times.

Our first thoughts go to the individuals, families and communities affected by COVID-19. We express our sincerest gratitude to the essential workforce still in place to help those in their time of dire need. We will get through this, but we could not do so without you.

Supporting global healthcare systems while working to mitigate the economically disastrous impact of pandemics is a challenge few modern governments have weathered in tandem. The fight against COVID-19 is unique on many fronts, but the urgency and sheer scale that the virus brings to the table is historic. At no other time in recent memory have governments stood up to provide emergency benefits and stimulus packages to so many people in such a short period of time.

Benefits. Loans. Wage subsidies. What does access to these programs have in common? Identity.

Whether it’s because you have to apply for emergency benefits, or that you need to suddenly and urgently apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, or that your local retail shop owner needs to apply for the loan or wage subsidy they need to keep doors open and staff on payroll, your identity will have to be verified. It’s the usual – except we’re not in a usual situation (hint: I’m writing this piece from home).

The need for fast and secure remote services is magnified in times of physical distancing

In the fight against COVID-19’s urgency and scope, blockchain-based digital identity verification networks like Verified.Me are essential tools. As Canadians, now working remotely, are getting used to tools such as Zoom, we’re also seeing huge spikes in calls and online requests for telehealth or governmental benefit programs. Recently Service Canada announced that they were closing their physical locations[1] and, under the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the federal government anticipates that over four million Canadians will apply for capital relief.[2] With the over one million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that drive the Canadian economy, the federal government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy commitment will also result in a heavy influx to government call centres and online services in lieu of physical engagement.

Even more staggering than the figures is the reality that each of these individuals and business owners need to have their identities verified immediately.

This is a massive responsibility, and our governments need support from privacy and security-centric parties with the right expertise. The ink wasn’t even dry on the government’s stimulus program before reports of a text scam began circulating. We’ve all heard the stories of local restaurants having to make the heart-breaking decision of having to close their doors permanently or layoff their staff. Having the tools deployed to provide secure digital identity verification isn’t just a question of convenience during COVID-19 – it’s become a question of citizen health, wellbeing and safety.

Many identification verification processes are manual, using precious time and coordination at call centres. Delivering these essential services against the razor-thin deadlines this pandemic demands will be crucial: having identities securely and quickly verified will help relieve this workload. With secure verified digital identities, the right service will be given at the right time, to the right person when they need it.

Beyond the immense time commitment, manual processing also comes at a high cost. The Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) estimates that the potential of trusted digital identities could save up to $4.5 billion dollars in added value to SMBs and up to 1 per cent of Canada’s total GDP, or $15 billion.[3]

While governments, along with every individual, are making a huge financial effort to mitigate the economic downturn, we believe digital identity verification technology can both save much needed time and money while funneling resources elsewhere.

As I work remotely and keep a mindful eye on the SecureKey team’s health and wellbeing, I’ve been asking myself how we can do our part. What can we do to help deliver essential services to Canadians and organizations in need?

We’re going to make digital identity more accessible during COVID-19

Our business is committed to working with all of our partners, collaborators, industry peers and colleagues in finding ways to make digital identity verification technology more accessible to those in need.

At SecureKey, we’re here to help with Verified.Me.

Verified.Me is a service offered by SecureKey Technologies Inc. Our network was developed in cooperation with seven of Canada’s major financial institutions – BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank and TD. The service makes it easier and safer for organizations to help verify individuals remotely. With rapid onboarding and superior blockchain and privacy-based architecture, Verified.Me is a timely solution that provides organizations with strong identity assurance to help to verify individuals quickly in these pressing circumstances.

Our ecosystem-based approach to identity verification means that we’ll be able to deliver private, secure and efficient digital identity verification as part of a coordinated effort.

Communication and collective resourcefulness are key to successfully responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. SecureKey Concierge™, our service that enables consumers to sign-in to online government destinations using a credential from a partner financial institution, has scaled up our systems to prepare for the unprecedented number of users we expect over the coming weeks.

The ability to move nimbly with established industry relationships in this environment is essential.
We are up to the task, know that we’re in the best shape possible to handle this landscape’s increased demand, and are confident in our ecosystem-based approach.

We will keep you updated in the days and weeks to come on this front. To our clients, partners, network participants and each one of you reading this: you can count on us.

Stay home and stay safe.