Toronto-based identity and authentication solutions provider SecureKey Technologies Inc. has raised C$27 million in growth capital, a strategic investment round with participation from Canada's Big Six financial institutions: BMO Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, Desjardins, Royal Bank of Canada and TD. The funding will be used for the commercial roll-out a privacy-enhancing digital identity network designed to help Canadians take greater control of their digital identity, to be launched in 2017 and in which the banks will play a significant role. “SecureKey is creating an ecosystem for customers to manage their digital assets securely and conveniently. It's a model that is being developed with substantial input from TD and other banks,” said Rizwan Khalfan, EVP and Chief Digital Officer, TD. “Investing in innovation that will improve the customer experience is core to our strategy. Given the priority we place on security and privacy, we're uniquely positioned to help shape this offering.” Simultaneous with the fundraising announcement, SecureKey has also announced that its founder and chairman, Greg Wolfond, is returning to the company as CEO, to lead the company through the implementation of the new digital identity network. “We want to help put the consumer back in the middle and let them take control of their digital assets, to share what they want, with whom they want, and always with informed consent,” said Wolfond. “We are excited to be working with so many partners to develop and deliver a national ecosystem that puts consumers first. Canada’s largest financial institutions are among the most trusted in the world, and we could not have a better group of aligned strategic investors for this groundbreaking initiative.” In September, CIBC became a Trusted Sign-In Partner in the SecureKey Concierge service, pending integration and associated compliance approvals, joining BMO, Choice Rewards MasterCard, Desjardins, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, Tangerine, TD Canada Trust, Caisses Populaires Acadiennes, and Caisses Populaires. “We’re pleased to expand our partnership with SecureKey to launch the new digital ID platform that focuses on simultaneously protecting our customers’ privacy while offering the potential to significantly enrich the authentication process,” said Andrew Irvine, Head of Commercial Banking and Partnerships, BMO Bank of Montreal. “The new service will help provide our customers with greater convenience, and save them time for a better overall experience.” SecureKey is creating an identity ecosystem, to replace the ad hoc ineffectiveness of demanding that average consumers create personally identifying means of accessing essential services, such as banking, relying on their memories or other potentially leaky and damaging forms of password storage. “SecureKey pioneered federated identity and authentication in Canada by empowering consumers with secure and convenient access to online services. Banks like RBC are uniquely positioned to collaborate with SecureKey to realize a digital ID because of our deep knowledge of clients, best-in-class security standards, and our strict regulatory requirements,” said Eddy Ortiz, VP, Solution Acceleration & Innovation, RBC. “SecureKey’s digital identity service will provide our clients with the peace of mind that they have come to expect, and will be a foundational building block in building consumer trust for the evolving digital economy.” SecureKey links consumer ID to trusted devices, while providing consumers with the choice, control and convenience over how they access the services they want, thereby eliminating the need to store passwords. “SecureKey is setting next-generation standards for enabling online identity,” said Mike Henry, Executive Vice President, Retail Payments, Deposits and Unsecured Lending at Bank of Nova Scotia. “We look forward to working closely with SecureKey to make customer-centric, privacy-enhanced digital ID a reality.” SecureKey's authentication platform reduces the burden, cost, and risk associated with authenticating millions of consumers, delivering a high-performance, easy-to-use interface. "Innovation is all about adding value and creating opportunity for clients, and we are pleased to be working with SecureKey to make it easier for clients to do business online with the confidence that their security and privacy are protected," said Todd Roberts, SVP, Innovation, CIBC. "As our clients increasingly embrace digital channels, we are committed to partnerships that enhance the digital ecosystem." CEO Greg Wolfond believes that SecureKey is "still in the starting blocks", and that the company's vision of a national ecosystem for making identity verification stronger, while improving consumer privacy and making the exchange of data more efficient remains in its early stages. “The key to successful adoption of online and mobile services in Canada rely upon the creation of an ecosystem that brings in the strongest capabilities of all participants to give customers choice, security and privacy with their Digital ID. SecureKey‘s system meets these requirements and Desjardins is proud to support the development of this innovative solution,” said Patrice Dagenais, Vice-President, Payment Services and Business Partnerships at Desjardins Group. Wolfond points out that verifying identity remains too difficult for a variety of purposes, from creating a new account with a telco, applying for a mortgage, or opening a bank account, and that essential services such as health records and test results still can't be accessed online at all because of a lack of trust in the security surrounding online identity validation.