Canada’s big five banks and the Desjardins Group are teaming up to fund the development of a beefed up digital identity network that aims to launch in 2017.

The major financial institutions are all participating in an effort to rollout a “privacy-enhancing digital identity network” next year by SecureKey Technologies Inc. The Toronto-based firm announced on Tuesday that it has raised $27 million in capital to finance the initiative, with the big banks participating in the financing.

SecureKey’s existing service is used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to enable taxpayers to log into their CRA account through their existing online banking identity. The new service “will make it easier for consumers to manage their digital assets and to take control of their digital identity in a privacy enhanced and secure way,” SecureKey says in a news release.

Greg Wolfond, SecureKey’s founder and chairman, is returning as its CEO. “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,” Wolfond says.

“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,” adds Todd Roberts, SVP, innovation, at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “As our clients increasingly embrace digital channels, we are committed to partnerships that enhance the digital ecosystem.”

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