Talent Canada
Talent Canada

Features Background Screening HR Technology
Interac expanding into business verification, including background checks for candidates

Avatar photo

May 25, 2023
By Todd Humber

Photo: Adobe Stock

Interac, a brand familiar to most Canadians as the interbank network that makes financial transactions tick and their debit cards work almost anywhere, is expanding into the realm of business verification, which includes pre-employment background screening.

Giles Sutherland, vice-president of business development at Interac, said the company is building on its expertise in trusted transactions — such as the “Sign in Partner” many use to log in to their Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) accounts via their bank accounts — to create Interac Verified.

“Just as consumers and businesses have relied on Interac for innovative ways to pay and get paid, Canadians can lean on the homegrown brand they know and trust to digitally verify and authenticate themselves,” the company said in a press release.

From an HR and employer perspective, it will be able to help verify a candidate’s credentials and accreditations.


“There’s a number of data sources that may be able to vouch for bits of information about you as an individual,” he said. “One might be your employer. Maybe there’s criminal background checks. There’s just the basics of ‘Is this really you? Do you live at this address? Name? Date of birth?’”

In essence, the product is connecting sources of information automatically that used to be a manual process, he said.

“Previously, you might have to verify yourself by photocopying a driver’s license, and then a paper cheque where you write void on it to say, ‘This is me and this is where I want to get paid.’ All that now can be digitized,” said Sutherland.

As it evolves and grows, it could provide a new source of information and/or a new level of integrity for the data, said Sutherland.

“To give an example of that, think of university or education data. Right now, there’s a pretty manual process to try and pull a transcript or confirmation that you really graduated,” he said. “The format and mechanisms for transmitting that is pretty clunky, and there’s opportunities for that to be fraudulent.”

There is a Canadian organization called MyCreds that is digitizing educational credentials, which could be tapped into to verify job candidates have the degrees they claim, he said. And that could expand beyond just university diplomas and college degrees to include micro skills relevant to positions.

“It might be, you’ve taken a course on cybersecurity, or you’ve done a software development bootcamp. You might have a credential that doesn’t take a standard form but might be really relevant to prove your qualification for that job,” he said. “Some of this is, admittedly, emerging into what’s kind of a new landscape. But that’s how we’re thinking about it.”

Sutherland also emphasized the privacy angle in what Interac does. If you think of how an Interac etransfer is handled — when you send someone $100, it just gets carried from one account to another. “We’re not able to see into each other’s bank accounts. It’s just exchanging it between those sources,” he said.

The same logic applies to background checks conducted via Interac Verified.

“We’re not going to be taking all these bits and pieces of information and then put it in one place,” said Sutherland. “We’re never touching it. We’re never looking at it. We’re not storing information.”

If you contrast that with some current scenarios, of photocopying ID and sending information by email to a recruiter and having it sitting in a digital or physical filing cabinet, it’s more secure, he said.

“That’s not a good way of doing things. That’s one thing we’re trying to raise awareness on,” he said.

Interac Verified could be used by background screening firms that already provide these services to employers, said Sutherland. That will likely be the primary market in the HR space, he said, but in some cases employers themselves might be using the service.

“We’d see this as something that will actually be complimentary and plug into these (background screening) providers,” he said.

Print this page


Stories continue below