"Overarching goal of this supercluster is to set Canada up for success in a digital economy..."

“Overarching goal of this supercluster is to set Canada up for success in a digital economy…”

Canada’s big banks have joined the charge for a CA$185 million ($150 million) digital identity supercluster bid that plans to solve the identification challenges of the digital economy.

According to IT World Canada, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD Bank and National Bank of Canada – are on board, along with the nation’s three largest telcos – Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. Also in the mix are academic institutions such as Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of British Columbia, and the provincial governments of Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

The bid is in response to the federal government’s Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) that was first announced in the 2016 budget.

IT World Canada says leading the charge is the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), “which has put together a nationwide public-private consortium of large and small innovators to create a digital identity ecosystem that will make transacting and sharing personal data online easier and safer”.

For example, for people renting a house, they won’t need to provide paper-based banking information to a potential landlord.

“The overarching goal of this supercluster is to set Canada up for success in a digital economy, but in order to do that, we need a safer, more efficient system of identifying people online and confirming that they are who they say they are,” Joni Brennan, president of DIACC, tells IT World Canada.

Brennan says if the DIACC is chosen to move on to the second phase, it will have “no problem” hitting the CA$250 million ($202 million) mark of matchable funds set by the federal government.

She adds: “We raised all this funding and it just proves the type of commitment that the private sector is making in this space. The best part is that no one asked for a return on their investment, which means that if we are chosen to be one of the five official superclusters, all of that money will go into research and development programs to benefit Canada’s workforce and grants for small and medium-sized enterprises to help us build a digital identity ecosystem for this country.”

It’s not quite the same, but as Banking Technology reported in May, Singapore is piloting a new initiative to let people apply for a bank account without needing to submit supporting documentation.