Editorial

Major Canadian Province adopts Digital ID for citizens

Bluink’s ‘eID-Me’ Digital ID smartphone app launches in Ontario

Posted 19 March 2020 by

Residents of Ontario, one of Canada’s most populated Provinces, last week were told they can start using a secure digital identity smartphone app on their iOS and Android devices.

The system – ‘eID-Me‘ – was developed by Ottawa-headquartered Digital ID company Bluink, and backed by a CA$1.2 million from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

eID-Me digitises and securely stores government-issued identity and self-managed identity information on the user’s smartphone, says the firm, adding that “features and partnerships are now being developed to make online identity verification quicker, easier, and more secure by eliminating passwords and strengthening privacy protection”.

“Our goal is to improve access to services that require verified identity, including government, financial, health care, legal, and more,” commented the company’s CEO, Steve Borza.

“Once integrations are in place, eID-Me could prevent identity fraud in financial services.” 

eID-Me could also enable age verification to online cannabis stores, adds the company’s official announcement, which are currently unable to prevent underage access according to Health Canada.

Existing online identity verification services are long, difficult, and potentially insecure, Bluink is claiming, adding that, “Some services ask difficult questions about outdated credit history. Some derive a user’s identity from vulnerable password-based logins [and] many take weeks to process verifications.”

eID-Me solves these problems, it declares, with “quick and easy identity verification in minutes from the user’s home”. Users take a selfie, scan their ID documents, and submit for identity proofing while at their home address.

The user’s identity information is then encrypted and sent to eID-Me’s secure registration server for verification. Once verified, an eID-Me digital identity is created on the user’s smartphone using a digital certificate, which is bound to an anonymous identifier and the user’s identity information. The user then has a secure, portable digital wallet which can be used in online and offline identity transactions.

No identity information is retained on Bluink’s eID-Me servers, it claims, backing up its claim that its decentralised ID model reduces the risk of massive data breaches since there is no centralised store of identity information.

eID-Me’s digital wallet is also being framed as well-protected on the smartphone with strong encryption, leveraging the smartphone’s hardware security mechanisms, and is bound to the user’s unlock method (e.g., passcode, fingerprint scan, face verification). If a smartphone is lost, the “Find my iPhone” and “Find my Android Device” apps can be used to find the smartphone or remotely wipe the smartphone’s data.

As eID-Me partnerships develop, users will be able to interact with online services with unmatched convenience and security, it promises, while eID-Me partnerships with third-party organisations will enable remote identity proofing and improve access to their services using eID-Me’s password-free login capabilities.

To register for eID-Me, users need a valid Canadian passport and Ontario Driver’s Licence or Photo Card. Find out more here, or watch a good intro video here.