During a recent interview with CanadianSME, Giles Sutherland, VP Business Development, Interac, shed light on Interac Verified—a suite of solutions that empowers Canadians to digitally verify their data for accessing services offered by participating businesses and governments. Giles discussed the motivations behind Interac’s expansion beyond payments into digital verification and authentication. He explained the workings of Interac Verified and identified the industries or sectors benefiting the most from this innovative solution. Giles also shared his vision for the future of Interac Verified, envisioning it playing a larger role in facilitating safe and secure online transactions. As an expert in the field, he provided valuable advice to individuals and businesses considering the implementation of digital identity verification solutions.
As Vice President of Business Development, Giles leads the commercial initiatives for the Interac Verified business – including leading the Go-to-market strategy and executing the growth and revenue operations for the business unit. Prior to Interac, Giles was a founding team member of Carta Worldwide, a Canadian Fintech platform, where he led the business development function from inception through international expansion and acquisition in 2021. With a background in Finance, Giles career has primarily focused on driving growth within emerging technology sectors, including work with leading financial and technology organizations in Canada, US and around the globe.
Can you tell us a little about Interac Verified and what it means for Canadians?
In today’s digital world, Canadians are increasingly concerned about verifying and protecting their data online. We recently conducted a survey that showed 74 per cent of Canadians want more control over their online information, and almost 70 per cent worry about how their personal data is being shared without their consent.
Interac Verified is a suite of solutions that enable Canadians to digitally verify their data to access services offered by participating businesses and governments. For consumers, it eliminates the need for physical documents or in-person visits and allows Canadians to exchange identification documents and sensitive data easily. Businesses benefit too, as it reduces manual processes, minimizes errors, and helps them acquire more customers.
What motivated Interac to move beyond payments and into digital verification and authentication?
We noticed a clear demand from Canadians for safer and more convenient ways to conduct online business. The statistics speak for themselves: Canadians lost $530 million to fraud in 2022 alone, and research from earlier this year tells us that 78 per cent of Canadians feel they lack the necessary information to protect their data online. Additionally, 47 per cent believe their information is at greater risk of fraud today compared to before the pandemic.
As digital transformation continues to accelerate, Canadians are increasingly relying on technology to exchange information and data as part of their daily lives. As an organization and one of Canada’s most trusted brands, we want to empower Canadians to digitally interact and engage with confidence. This applies to helping Canadians pay and get paid, and now extends to how Canadians exchange their data digitally.
Can you walk us through the process of how Interac Verified works?
Interac Verified is a suite of verification and authentication solutions comprised of: Interac verification service, which allows users to establish a connection with a trusted partner, such as their financial institution, using existing bank login credentials to share data. Interac document verification service uses an automated process that matches a liveness check to a photo of a government-issued ID. And Interac sign-in service ensures the right access is given to the right person by utilizing existing login credentials from a trusted source, like a financial institution. This eliminates the need for managing new login credentials.
Together, these solutions make up Interac Verified. Underpinned by an interoperable network, this solution connects parties requesting the required data and the parties providing that data. Similar to our role in payments, Interac is the leading in-market partner in Canada that connects consumers to businesses and governments.
What industries or sectors do you see benefiting the most from Interac Verified?
Many types of industries can benefit from Interac Verified, but industries facing high levels of fraud, such as real estate and insurance, will benefit greatly from Interac Verified. Let’s look at real estate for example. Verification solutions can help improve efficiency, convenience, and security by reducing identity or financial information fraud for renters, landlords, real estate sellers or buyers, and new mortgage applicants.
Interac Verified has the potential to benefit various areas of the economy, including government services, human resources, and technology, all of which frequently require personal data and credential verification.
How do you see Interac Verified evolving in the future?
Over the last few years, we’ve seen many changes in the landscape. Notwithstanding these changes, the topics of privacy, trust, choice, and convenience have remained paramount to the work we do.
Our solutions are designed with these themes in mind and to support multiple technology standards so businesses can meet their customers’ expectations today and in the future. As the digital landscape evolves, so does the Interac Verified suite.
Whether it’s shopping, applying for a mortgage or bank loan, or accessing government services, our goal is to ensure Canadians can safely and securely participate in the digital economy. That requires taking meaningful steps on our part to provide safe, secure, and trusted digital experiences that protect Canadians.
With the ongoing pandemic and the shift towards digital interactions, do you see Interac Verified playing a bigger role in facilitating safe and secure online transactions?
Absolutely. At a time when we’re conducting more activity online – whether it’s buying second-hand patio furniture or applying for a mortgage – digital verification technology, like Interac Verified, can help provide peace of mind to the individual on either side of the transaction. These are just two use-cases out of many, and only scratch the surface in terms of the application possibilities of verification.
The reality is consumers have different needs, and their needs are ever changing.
Regardless of what consumers’ needs are tomorrow or eight months from now, protecting Canadians’ personal information – and giving them peace of mind, they want and need – needs to be a top priority for all of us.
What advice would you give to individuals and businesses looking to implement digital identity verification solutions?
Canadians are highly concerned about protecting their online privacy, and according to our research, individuals are holding organizations accountable for protecting their data.
For businesses, implementing verification services not only enhances their customers’ sense of security but also builds consumer trust. By adopting solutions like Interac Verified, businesses can strengthen trust with current and prospective customers, provide better digital experiences, and mitigate external threats.