Insights from IdentityNORTH and the emergence of business OBO
June 21, 2017

This week I had the opportunity to speak at the 2017 IdentityNORTH conference in Toronto. It was a great opportunity to bring together leaders from various organizations, including CIBC and the Government of New Brunswick, and discuss how new technologies like blockchain are making Canada’s commitment to building trusted digital identities a reality.

We discussed a number of topics and addressed insightful questions from the audience about the state of digital identity today, from why online privacy matters to standardizing digital identity, but one of the most interesting themes borne out of a group panel session was the concept of “on-behalf-of” (OBO).

In today’s day and age, we are constantly trying to get things done online or over the phone – and not only for ourselves, but also on behalf of others. For example, parents often access services on behalf of their children, and spouses often act on behalf of their partner to pay bills, make healthcare decisions, etc. We are generally granted access to these services (and the personal information they hold) because the end-service organizations have no way to challenge we are who we say.  However, the end-service organizations know this and put hoops and jumps in place to ensure the information of our loved ones isn’t being accessed by a malicious party. There is a lot of masquerading going on.

So, if it’s hard enough to prove who we are ourselves, how is it possible that this concept of OBO can be done so effectively and without question?

We can overcome the challenges associated with OBO in two ways: verified people and verified organizations. This brings us back to the simple concept of solving digital identity. At SecureKey, we’re trying to solve this conundrum. As I’ve discussed in past blogs, we’re bringing together experienced, cross-industry business leaders to build a digital identity and attribute sharing network. People shouldn’t have to spend 10+ minutes, or even hours, on the phone to verify who they are. A real, verified person should be able to easily access information on behalf of their real, verified children or spouses.

When it comes down to it, OBO on a consumer level and OBO from a business perspective are quite similar. On a business level, when you act, you act for the business and not yourself. The emergence of business identity has never been more important. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks, making it more complicated for people operating on behalf of a company to access the services they need. For example, over a simple phone call, how can an accountant for “Andre Boysen Inc.” prove to Service Ontario that they are actually affiliated with the company?

This all boils down to finding a solution that respects  verified persons and verified organizations. Small business owners are  the drivers of our economy and they should be able to access information without identification roadblocks. One thing we know for sure is that you can’t do business until you have consumer registration/authorization figured out, but once you have that magic formula, it can be powerful.

Having verified people operating OBO verified organizations, be that their children, spouses, or businesses, should not be rocket science. At SecureKey, we’re excited to help facilitate quick and easy verification processes that make your lives that much easier, more credible and far more secure.

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