Despite collaborative efforts to combat cyber threats, Canada is seeing record surges in fraud and cybercrime.
Canada’s digital identity and data security standards aren’t keeping pace with online activity. Fortunately an ecosystem of innovators are trying to change that.
Fintech.ca sat down with Chandra Rink to discuss the safe and secure utilization of data, while creating experiences that people love.
As the Head of Product at ATB Ventures, Chandra leads a multi-disciplinary team of product, research, marketing, and design specialists who bring their expertise into experimentation and commercialization of ATB Ventures’ portfolio.
With rising fraud and cybercrime, what is your assessment of the current state of digital fraud in Canada?
CR: Canada is seeing record surges in fraud and cybercrime. In 2022, the reported losses from fraud were $500 million dollars – a 40% increase compared to 2021. Much of this rise was fuelled by more businesses digitizing operations on account of the pandemic. With this increase in cybercrime, we’re seeing fraudulent activity escalate across all categories, including payment and identity fraud.
Canada is also home to a rich ecosystem of innovators working to make technology available to better detect and prevent fraud. These collaborative efforts between businesses, financial institutions, and regulatory bodies will be essential to combating this threat effectively. Solutions that support cross-industry verification practices will increasingly carve out market share as they demonstrate support for the consumers and businesses that the fraudulent activity disproportionately impacts.
What are some overall challenges we’re seeing around digital identity practices in Canada?
CR: Every paradigm shift brings challenges and opportunities to overcome. In Canada’s case, a primary focus will be improving the interoperability issues that exist between various identity and verification systems that hinder seamless verification processes; particularly, when you expand your view nationally, across the public and private sectors. Since Canada does not yet have a federally regulated digital identity program, businesses are doing their best to put unique security and identity verification policies in place.
Another complex challenge is ensuring that individuals maintain ownership and privacy over their data, as identity verification becomes mainstream in digital channels. Canadians have been clear that they want the power to choose what data they share with whom. Doing this well involves striking a balance between creating a smooth user experience and putting proper guardrails in place to enable levels of consent for individuals to maintain control of their personal data.
How is ATB Ventures working to address some of these challenges and gaps?
CR: ATB Ventures is actively addressing these digital identity challenges by developing innovative identity technology in response to market pain points and feedback. Our team has developed digital identity solutions that simultaneously streamline customer onboarding for large and mid-sized enterprises, and give more ownership to citizens over what elements of their digital identity they share with others. We aim to not only improve efficiency and reduce costs for businesses through these solutions but also remove friction for users when signing up for new services and tools – all without compromising security and individual privacy.
Our approach to developing digital identity technology is rooted in using advanced authentication and encryption techniques that mitigate fraud and raise consumer confidence. We are excited to be collaborating with other institutions in paving the way to create more cohesive and interoperable digital identity standards that fit the needs and desires of every Canadian.
How do digital identities contribute to greater accessibility and security for citizens day to day?
CR: Digital identities will play a pivotal role in enhancing accessibility and security for Canadians. By enabling seamless and secure authentication, individuals can access essential services with far greater ease. This accessibility can reduce economic barriers and improve financial inclusion across Canada.
Additionally, digital identities with robust security measures safeguard user information, reducing the risk of identity theft and cyber fraud when implemented correctly. As digital identity technology becomes more commonplace in Canada and across the world, citizens will experience more convenience and data security when doing everyday things like booking a telehealth appointment, or signing up for a new phone plan.
Digital identity practices ensure that the right person is getting the right access to the right information, at the right time. Doing this well means it should be simple for users to access their information and accounts, and it should become increasingly difficult for fraudulent, bad actors to access accounts that aren’t theirs.
With digital identity standards playing a core role in sectors like healthcare and finance, what are opportunities for digital identity tech to improve current practices?
CR: Healthcare and finance have a unique opportunity to benefit from digital identity, as they operate in the business of trust. There are fewer industries that place more importance on both requiring and creating personally identifiable information on an individual’s behalf. For this reason, these industries benefit from remaining steadfast in ensuring they have the highest degree of security practices in place while maintaining great customer experience standards.
Opportunities for improvement in these sectors include embracing even stronger verification and authentication practices. In healthcare specifically, secure digital identities can facilitate seamless patient record management, reducing administrative burdens, and ensuring accurate medical information. For the financial sector, robust digital identities enable frictionless customer onboarding, enhance fraud detection, and facilitate more secure and efficient financial transactions.
Overall, adopting digital identity standards opens doors to improved data management and customer experiences, in these, and multiple other sectors.
What changes need to happen for Canada to raise its digital competitiveness and become a world leader in privacy and digital identity practices?
CR: To become a world leader in privacy and digital identity practices, Canada would benefit from focusing on three key areas. First, fostering a robust ecosystem of innovation and research in digital identity technologies: there are pockets of innovation happening across the country on this front, but offering incentives to develop new technology and solutions specifically around data privacy and digital identity would promote practical, real-world applications of digital identity.
Second, promoting more collaboration between private enterprises and public entities to establish unified standards and frameworks would advance the pace at which we can successfully test and implement the various innovations and applications of digital identity, of which there are many. A focused effort to knit in-market needs together with evolving policy would enable a Canadian ecosystem for citizens to truly acquire the value that digital identity has to offer, positioning us as a world leader in data privacy practices.
Finally, investing in comprehensive cybersecurity education and awareness programs for both businesses and citizens will strengthen the country’s overall posture when it comes to welcoming a nationwide digital identity program. Most Canadians are busy people working full-time jobs and just need to get their services quickly. They don’t have time to become experts in digital identity, nor should they have to, but they deserve confidence and ownership in their personal data.
Effectively addressing these three realities will simultaneously build Canada’s credibility in data privacy practices, and enhance our economic competitiveness to the benefit of all Canadians.
What are ATB Ventures’ plans for driving further innovation related to digital identity in Canada?
CR: Our team will continue to refine our technology for use cases underpinning customer onboarding and citizen digital identity management, making solutions that are more efficient and secure than the status quo. Some specific industries that are showing the most eagerness to adopt these new applications include insurance, mid-market financial institutions, credit unions, and healthcare.
We look forward to continuing to collaborate with industry partners and regulatory bodies to establish industry-wide best practices for digital identity management. As solutions like Oliu bridge the data-exchange gaps between businesses and their customers, we look forward to seeing the various applications of digital identity result in a safer, more accessible digital economy in Canada.