Interview: Greg Wolford

Greg Wolfond.jpg

1.  Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Greg Wolfond, the founder of SecureKey Technologies. With over 30 years of experience in fintech, security and mobile solutions, I sit on several boards and have been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, Entrepreneur of the Year and one of 100 Top Leaders in Identity. Prior to founding SecureKey, my earlier ventures included Footprint Software Inc., a financial software company (sold to IBM), and 724 Solutions Inc., a wireless infrastructure software provider. 

Today, digital identity is broken. The number of online records being accessed by unauthorized third parties keeps increasing, but still no one has yet to put forth a strong enough solution that properly protects consumers’ personal information. I founded SecureKey to address this problem. By teaming up with leading organizations across many industries, we create solutions that will provide consumers with greater control over their information. SecureKey Technologies has become the leading identity and authentication provider that simplifies consumer access to online services and applications. 

SecureKey began its privacy-centric mandate with SecureKey Concierge™. This service, which launched in 2012, provided secure sign-In access for citizens to over 80 Government of Canada agencies by leveraging their financial institution and credit union login credentials as a base. Most recently, SecureKey has continued its innovation to solve the digital identity problem by launching its most recent service, Verified.Me, in May 2019. 

2. What will you be talking about at the conference in Canada?

In this session, I will be providing insights on digital governance and changing the public’s thinking on e-governance, alongside Teresa D’Andrea from the Chief Information Officer’s office. During the discussion, I will touch on the lessons that SecureKey has learned from our services, including SecureKey Concierge and more recently, Verified.Me. This will include the value of an ecosystem approach to digital identity, as demonstrated through our Verified.Me network in Canada, which was developed in cooperation with seven of Canada’s major financial institutions (BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank and TD).

3. Why do you think Estonia is such a leader in technology?

Estonia is building a unique digital identity system – as many countries have, and all starting from different places. Estonia was fortunate that it issued a chip-based national identity card as the foundation of the service, which is used to bootstrap their identity system and mandate all government services to use it. When comparing the service to other countries, it would be very difficult in countries such as Canada to issue a national ID card, as it would require strong assertions from provinces, financial institutions and telcos to achieve similar security levels. 

The impressive part about what Estonia has done is that it brought together a broad range of services – from government to commercial and health care – which is what is needed to really make a digital transformation in a country. Estonia’s system provides citizens with complete control of their data and how it is shared. The notion that putting citizens in control of their data by consenting to share information is critical, and one that is core to SecureKey’s Concierge and Verified.Me systems.

4. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting into this field? 

There are technology differences in every country, providing a lot of opportunity for individuals interested in the field.

Each country has its own operating framework – that spells out the rules on data protection, data sharing, consent, data residency and liability models – and a legal framework that supports all of these important factors. There will be also be interoperability between all of these systems.

Countries that have been, and will be, the most successful are those that align and realize that services must work broadly across the private sector, in government and in health care. In these countries, there is great opportunity to build new workflows that increase security and reduce friction. Countries that work with providers bringing an ecosystem of attributes to the table, and getting in early, have the highest potential for success!

Marika Mayfield