Tech giant IBM and Canadian identity and security provider SecureKey have teamed up to develop a digital identity network based on blockchain technology.

Currently in the testing phase in Canada, the network will make it easier for customers to securely verify their identity with IBM’s blockchain service.

Consumers can use the network to instantly verify their identity for services such as new bank accounts, driver's licenses or utilities.

Once it goes live later in 2017, consumers will be able to opt-in to the new service using a mobile app. They can also control what identifying information they share with organizations of their choice, the companies said in joint statement.

Notably, major Canadian banks such as BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD are part of the digital identity ecosystem. The banks invested $27m into SecureKey in October 2016.

IBM Blockchain general manager Marie Wieck said: "What IBM is building with SecureKey and members of the digital identity ecosystem in Canada, including major banks, telecom companies and government agencies, will help tackle the toughest challenges surrounding identity.

"This method is an entirely different approach to identity verification, and together with SecureKey, we have a head start on putting it on the blockchain. This is a prime example of the type of innovation permissioned blockchain networks can accelerate."