In Canada and around the world, people are talking about vaccine passports – and digital IDs in general. Governments, organizations, and brands will need to adapt to these changes too.
How important is it to transform your business to incorporate these new directives? Is it more difficult for small and medium businesses compared to big corporations? How do brands need to think about their communication plans and prepare for these changes? And what role do companies like Yelp, Facebook and Google play?
Listen to our podcast here:
Recorded on September 17, 2021
Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s everything is brand. This week we want to talk about how brands can deal with digital ID. So let’s go. So this week we want to talk about digital ID. You know more and more in Ontario and across Canada and around the world, there’s talk of vaccine passports, governments are requiring that people will have to carry their vaccine passport to gain access, and brands are really dealing with this whole personal information and how that information will be IDed and how people will sign into things. Whether it’s Amazon or Google, or governments for a vaccine passport, everyone’s gonna have to figure this out, and brands are gonna have to figure it out as well. Just talking about the vaccine passport, how important is it going to be to – especially small businesses and having to deal with this? How much are they going to have to adapt? Are they being put on the front lines? What do you guys think? How are they going to deal with this whole digital ID issue?
Marko Zonta: 1:03
I think this is definitely gonna put some pressure on, and I would say more on small businesses. You know, right now what we’re hearing in terms of what’s happening in Alberta, and small businesses are actually quite upset about how the government is handling that – it’s not so much about the vaccine passport idea. It’s just how the government is actually basically saying small businesses, you have to do all the policing, and you have to do all of the enforcement and all that stuff, we’re basically just gonna step back and really not do anything about it. So it’s more from that perspective, that it’s really putting a lot of pressure on some of those smaller companies, smaller brands that could potentially get negative reviews, all kinds of issues, kind of related to that, because people will be upset. And again, it has nothing to do with people actually not wanting that – it has more to do with the fact that it’s not convenient, it’s not communicated well, it’s not managed well, it’s going to cause some tension. And I think some brands will have to deal with that.
Brad Breininger: 2:01
The issue for those brands is that their whole brand value can be affected by something that’s completely out of their control.
Marko Zonta: 2:10
Well, we know that somebody who is upset about whatever it may be, they can go in and write a negative review. And something like this can actually generate a lot of negative reviews for a restaurant, let’s say and it doesn’t even have to do anything with their service, with their food, with their brand at all. But they’ll get, you know, bad reviews. And that can really affect their business. So it’s not fair. From that point of view, I think that the government is really kind of dropping the ball.
Brad Breininger: 2:36
Can’t anybody write a bad review at any time? They can for sure, but this is a catalyst that is probably bigger than a lot of other things. A lot of times, like, if you look at Yelp reviews, a lot of times they’re policed. You know, if someone puts a bad review, but someone really loves the place, they’ll put a positive review, it’s kind of like user police, I feel like a little bit like some of these anti vaxxers might gang up on some of these brands that are just trying to build a business for themselves.
Marko Zonta: 3:04
And you brought up Yelp reviews. And actually, Yelp is actually one of the most challenging ones for businesses. They have an algorithm basically, that if you actually get one negative review and five positive reviews, they’ll actually filter out four positive reviews. So you’re going one positive against one negative kind of thing. And basically, if a business notices that somebody who was fired or whatever, starts writing bad reviews, or gets their friends and family to write bad reviews, there’s really nothing you can do about that. And in this case, again, this is a an explosive situation where people will get very emotional, so they will go and write bad reviews. And really, the business then has to do their best to try and get good reviews to kind of balance that out as much as they possibly can.
Brad Breininger: 3:50
So this is a brand issue then. In the end organizations like Yelp, or Facebook or Amazon or any of them are in business for those companies. They’re not in business to help build the brands of these other people. And what you’re saying is Yelp is doing a little bit like what the government is doing. It’s kind of like, well, this is how we’re setting things up. And you know what, however it maps out for you brands, oh, well, this is how we make our business work. So this is what especially smaller brands are dealing with when it comes to all these online and digital elements.
Gabi Gomes: 4:22
But isn’t this just what needs to happen? We are in a digital world and we need to evolve. Here in Ontario. They announced the digital ID – the melding of basically driver’s license and health card into your wallet. Isn’t that where things need to evolve to for better privacy for better security, the days of pulling out your driver’s license to open up a bank account and then photocopying it, really? Where does that paper get shuffled into or you know getting scanned and sent over email? That’s not secure at all. And the other side of the coin is we need to think about those that are not there yet, we’re talking about the seniors, the boomers, we need to eventually move this train along to better protect ourselves from that perspective, and the government is kind of the one in the best position to move that train along and get everybody on board. Nobody’s ever happy with it. I’m also a European citizen. And there is one card for everything in the country that I’m from, that card is used for everything. It’s still a card is not a digital card. But even that got amalgamated in terms of health, social insurance and driver’s license all into one bucket. I think we’ve got to move there. I think for our own privacy and security, we’ve got to move there. However, I think we’ve also got to think about those that are not on smartphones, you know, there’s still a large percentage of the population that chooses not to adopt digital and how are those needs going to be met? And are they going to be treated any lesser of citizen because they don’t have a smartphone?
Jeremy Linskill: 5:58
I like to think I’ve had a digital ID for a while – I took pictures of my driver’s license and health card and they’re in my photo album so. Yeah. I’m way ahead of the
Brad Breininger: 6:08
The time and here’s the thing. I don’t think times anyone is saying that this doesn’t have to happen. It does have to happen. You’re right, Gabi 100% The question is, how can brands be ready for it, be prepared for it. I mean, I think that as governments start to digitize all this personal ID that’s just a gateway, that is just a gateway to everything else that will come down the road. And I just think that brands need to be aware. I’m not sure that a lot of brands have the desire nor the budget to worry about people who aren’t on smartphones at this point in time – to that point I doubt that any brand is going to be putting together a strategy to deal with their analog customers I think they’re just gonna move to digital and they’re gonna keep going and making money. what are the rest of you guys think? I just don’t think that that’s a thing
Marko Zonta: 6:56
brands can actually handle this in a good positive way as well. One example is like a fitness club with this whole vaccination passport and until that passport is actually available on your phone type of thing, instead of actually having to go like every single time you go there and have to show them the proof that you were vaccinated, they created their own system where they’ll actually take down all of your information and obviously you need to scan your thing when you enter so they know who you are once you have to have that information so they took it upon themselves to create that system so you give them all the information once and that’s it. So that’s the positive experience so they actually took steps necessary to turn something that is potentially going to make people angry just because they have to do something extra and turn it into a positive experience.
Brad Breininger: 7:44
But they’re now holding all of that personal information and it’s one thing to show your government issued vaccination slip which I photographed and put on my phone too Jer so I did the exact same thing. It’s one thing to show that and then be given entry, it’s another thing to give all of that personal information that is now housed on a system that you have no idea how secure it is.. you’re right Marko 100% it’s way more convenient, but is it better?
Marko Zonta: 8:13
But here’s the thing with what point you actually stopped sharing information? People share information all the time let’s face it, right like sure Facebook a great example right? Like nothing is secure when people talk about privacy and security and all that stuff and to have a Facebook account I’m sorry you just completely canceled your own argument. And in this case like with the fitness club all they’re basically saying okay you know yes we have information about you as a member all we need to do is match that up with are you vaccinated or not – that’s it that’s all they’re doing they don’t have any other information, health information on you.
Brad Breininger: 8:48
And that’s a good point is that there’s various levels of what people are comfortable with right like you’re good with it and Gabi you immediately said no, so I know that shows a range of people out there.
Gabi Gomes: 9:01
I think it’s the responsibility of larger organizations whether it be their financial institutions, the government etc who have the means and the budgets to ensure that our information is private and secure so I think it’s those institutions that the responsibility lies – versus your neighborhood fitness club. Yes, sure the governments usually a little bit behind when it comes to technology and implementing technology but
Brad Breininger: 9:26
And not corrupt at all ever right?
Gabi Gomes: 9:31
So I think that, I think that it’s becoming on them to ensure that all of that is up to snuff and to implement it, but because they are so slow at it we get brands deciding to do this, tech companies deciding to do this, and then that’s where we start to see data breaches and and what not that are happening.
Brad Breininger: 9:53
But from a privacy perspective… I mean it’s it’s a slippery slope. Right now, so much of your personal information is out in the ether already, like Marko said asking for additional couple pieces of information is not necessarily a big deal. However, some brands are moving into whole different directions. Like for example, Amazon. Sasha, you were telling us about this whole palm reading thing like is this a tarot cards like what is Amazon going into now?
Sasha Codrington: 10:21
I was just reading about it because a concert venue in the US has announced that they’re going to be accepting Amazon One. And it’s going to be basically a separate line, you walk up to a little machine, you hold your palm above it, and it uses your unique palm print to confirm that you have a ticket. And that’s how you gain access, you don’t need your phone. Instead, your digital ID is actually your body at that point. And I was speaking to a friend saying that that felt like a step too far for me. But to a degree, I realized that is already happening. Like if you pick up your phone, it’s registering and unlocking it based on your face, or your thumbprint – that is still using your body and your unique print as your ID. So I think we are to a degree already there. But like Gabi said, it’s about trusting those organizations like Amazon to have this print of your palm. And I’m assuming that’s going to expand to other aspects of their business as well like their in store amazon shopping, I’m assuming that would be the same where you could check out and buy your groceries with your palm at that point as well.
Gabi Gomes: 11:18
Let’s not kid ourselves. Amazon is in the business of data. And they are collecting data on humans in order to profit from that data. So the more data they collect, the more profitable they will be and they will leverage that somehow. So –
Jeremy Linskill: 11:33
Isn’t that all the larger organizations? Yeah. That’s Google, Facebook, yeah, yeah.
Gabi Gomes: 11:39
I don’t know that people are necessarily seeing that. They’re like, oh, Amazon yeah where I purchased this, that whatever. But I mean, we’re in the business. So we get it right. But majority of population doesn’t think of Amazon as a data company, it thinks of Amazon, as you know, a retailer of whatever goods and services they’re buying.
Brad Breininger: 11:57
But this goes to the bigger question of there’s a whole segment of the population that just doesn’t care. I don’t think that everyone has a, they would rather get their package the next day, because they want it and they’re used to getting what they want immediatly. It’s that instant gratification thing. That’s what they care about. Not if someone knows their address, or if someone has a scan of their palm print
Marko Zonta: 12:24
I think a lot of it is also you know, what is the company doing to not only protect that information, but also if something does go wrong? What are they doing about it? I can, I mean, let’s face it, using a credit card, that’s not new technology, you know, somebody can basically start using your credit card in another province another, you know, country without you even knowing. And there is a system in place that basically protects you if somebody actually makes purchases that are not yours to, you know, to not only stop those purchases, but you won’t have to pay for that, right?
Gabi Gomes: 12:55
Great. That’s a credit card. Debit cards don’t.
Jeremy Linskill: 12:57
A credit card, they just issue a new card. W at happens when somebody hacks y ur pa
Brad Breininger: 13:02
That’s true. That’s a good point. They’ll issue a new palm? Have you ever watched those science fiction movies? You just go in they like, peel off a few layers and put a new palm. There you go.
Gabi Gomes: 13:13
Yeah, I think the other thing we have to keep in mind is that in terms of technology, and security and issues that come up with technology, it’s kind of like you have to put it out there and as issues come up or security, privacy breaches, whatever, then it gets fixed. You know, that’s how the world works now. That’s how the world works. So until you know there’s been an issue, then there’s a policy, there is a correction, there is a an update to whatever software etc, that comes out. That’s the part that I accept that we live in that kind of world. But like I mean, we –
Jeremy Linskill: 13:49
I prefer that we live in that world, because otherwise we’re we’re three steps behind all the time. We got to iterate this.
Brad Breininger: 13:56
That’s a really good point. Here’s a quick story. Because I also think that this is a generational thing. I think that by the time young people who are being born within the last 10 years, by the time they grow up, these things probably won’t even be an issue. And here’s a little story I remember when my grandparents got a credit card for the first time, they kept the credit card in their safe at home, they had a little safe in the garage and they kept the credit card in there because they said they didn’t want someone to steal it and charge things to their account. The credit card was designed to take with you and actually make purchases, but they said no, no, no, we got it for emergencies, we’re keeping it in the safe. And if we ever need it, we’ll go in the safe and we’ll get it. And now we carry around credit cards in our pockets as if it’s nothing. I think that what happens is that it almost feels like the old ways of thinking need to die off before the new ways of thinking kind of takeover. And I think that we’ll see this I think what we’re seeing now is we’re seeing this switch over to where things are going and for some people in older generations than I – “Oh no, it’s all about privacy” but I don’t think people are going to care as much about privacy in the future as we have in the past
Marko Zonta: 15:05
and I think also technology you know is oftentimes a lot more safe like even if you actually look at for example paying with Apple Pay It is actually a lot safer than then using your regular credit card because that system generates a unique number for every single purchase even if somebody gets a hold of that they can’t use it again so it’s not something that is getting worse it’s actually getting a lot better. Yes there’s potential issues and you know, somebody will figure something out we just have to move forward and fix things as they come along.
Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 15:37
It’s a matter of mindset. I mean China they’ve been using facial ID payments for years and I know Gabi will say “that’s a no from me” yeah but they’ve been doing it for a long time and we’re doing it right now I mean, even if we use Apple Pay or whatever payment system we’re using right now it’s controlled by our faces as well because you lock your phone with your face and then you pay. Essentially you don’t need to include any kind of password or anything you just unlock your phone with your face and then you pay. So it’s a matter of mindset I believe and it’s it’s very convenient I mean I know for myself I hated remembering passwords and now I don’t have to remember anything. I just hold my face up to stuff and .. who cares, like really.
Gabi Gomes: 16:23
You bring up a good point because I do it – I don’t do my thumbprint, I don’t –
Brad Breininger: 16:29
How is your face different than your thumb or your palm?
Gabi Gomes: 16:32
I don’t do any of that and I do that for a reason and that is so that I can constantly remember things. People are forgetting their passwords. We are leaving a digital trail behind us every single site out there is now signup login Give me your date of birth Give me your firstborn give me everything and we’re literally leaving a digital trail print but I do that in order to keep the brain going in order to remember things I mean
Marko Zonta: 16:59
Do a crossword puzzle. Get a hobby.
Gabi Gomes: 17:03
Yeah no no that’s just you know daily daily routines right? And put your password there we go yep still know it great move on Yeah.
Brad Breininger: 17:11
And then do you go out to the well in the back and get the water for your coffee or like what happens there.
Jeremy Linskill: 17:17
It looks dark in your house, you should light a candle Gabi.
Gabi Gomes: 17:20
I know. Christian was the one that kind of pushed me. Between Christian and Jeremy they pushed me into the Apple Pay world it does come in handy in terms of picking up my Starbucks and not needing to bring my Costanza wallet with me it does have its advantages but again I recognize we need to move forward but I do think that the institutions are the ones to kind of lead that charge, forge that way put that stuff into place yeah, I mean I am looking forward to seeing what the government of Ontario comes out with with respect to that combining of driver’s license, health card into one that I can add into my apple wallet that’s going to be interesting and it’s baby steps into how these things get implemented and applied right? To facilitate opening of accounts to facilitate booking an appointment with your doctor to facilitate all of those things so I’m all for technology especially when it comes to mass application amongst all humans gradually bring people along and who knows I mean I’m concerned about the baby boomers, how they get treated etc I don’t want them to receive lesser treatment because they don’t have a smartphone and digital wallet etc. We’ve got to think about the audience our age group younger folks they’ll always adapt and whatnot but how do you bring that other generation into the mix as well right?
Brad Breininger: 18:40
But do you think brands are preparing for that? I mean it doesn’t seem like brands are saying you know let’s have our analog strategy and our digital strategy in place I feel like people are going full steam ahead into the whole digital direction.
Gabi Gomes: 18:54
Of course, until they start seeing dollar signs go downhill if that is part of their audience
Brad Breininger: 18:59
Is that happening? I don’t see that happening. I mean Amazon is like the most successful company on Earth and Google and Apple are like right behind them.
Gabi Gomes: 19:07
Now listen, what happens with Amazon and baby boomers are you know the ones that aren’t on things is they end up calling up their their son or daughter Hey, can you order this I need this you know, so that’s how that’s gonna go. Can you come fix my VCR?
Brad Breininger: 19:18
But that’s gonna happen with all digital ID and that’s what’s gonna happen. Yes, yeah. Okay. The fact that you even use the term VCR is very telling, I think the the issue more than anything, and it’s interesting that you know, Gabi, you said that it’s going to be gradual. I’m not sure that it’s going to be gradual either. Like if you look at what’s going on in Alberta right now, there’s a lot of pushback against digital ID and particularly the vaccine passport. It’s become quite political in both the US and Canada and in other places in the world as well. I think Alberta is a good microcosm of just how important it is because they kept saying no vaccine passport, we’re not going to force people to do this. We’re not going to expect brands to do this. And now the pandemic is raging out there and they’re like, nope, change a policy, we’re going full vaccine passport, and it’s going to be implemented within the next month. And every business within this grouping is going to be requiring it, it almost feels like there may be pushback, but it’s almost like either society or the pandemic, or even other factors are going to push it faster than maybe we might even feel comfortable with for a lot of people.
Gabi Gomes: 20:27
If we look at the pandemic, in general, if we looked at the numbers of online shopping before the pandemic, and after the pandemic, of course, the pandemic pushed everybody to shop online. Well, we see people back in stores, not in the numbers that we saw before the pandemic. So yes, having an event such as this will always propel and push people forward. And brands, we saw that on the business side as well of people not being online websites not being lead gen etc. And all of a sudden the pandemic hits and everybody’s like, all they realize that’s their 24/7 storefront so to speak.
Marko Zonta: 20:59
I was just gonna say it’s more progressive companies, more progressive brands that actually kind of push the envelope, they try new things, new technology, new ways of connecting with their members, their customers, you know, their clients, financial institutions, like in Canada, large financial institutions are probably after some of that technology was already in the market already tested, that’s when they start to bring it into their their world. And then the government is, is even after that, right? If it was the other way around toward the garment was kind of on the cutting edge and everybody else followed, I think it would be very different. But the reality is that people get a little bit of training, I guess, as they start to get comfortable with some of these technologies, because they do online shopping, they do all kinds of different things. And by the time it actually gets to kind of the government level, the majority of people kind of accepts the fact that this is the way things are if we want to have all the luxuries and and comfort and ease of use and all that stuff. Yeah, like to be honest, I can’t wait for all of that ID information and everything else to just be on my phone. Like I don’t want to have to carry my driver’s license and credit card and all that stuff. I just want to have it on my phone.
Brad Breininger: 22:08
But don’t you think it feels a little bit like people trust Amazon and Apple and Google more than they trust the government – like, like when I listened to some of this protesting, it’s like the vitriol around the government and what the government is trying to do compared to these major corporations that are clearly operating in their own best interest. It just seems like a chasm where people seem to trust these organizations more than they trust their own governments.
Jeremy Linskill: 22:34
Apple and Google and Amazon has been bringing people along slowly, taking technology slowly, whereas the government is so far behind. And now they’re trying to jump so far forward, that that’s what people are uncomfortable with.
Brad Breininger: 22:47
That’s definitely part of the issue, Jeremy and I think the other part, I think that this just goes to basic human nature, when you reward people with something, they’re much more likely to accept the negative part of what you may or may not be doing. So the government doesn’t really reward anything, all they do is collect fees and raise taxes and cause problems. Whereas Apple gives you a watch an iPad, an iPhone, and oh, by t e way, they take all of your per onal information. Amazon, ou know, gives you your magic 8 all the very next day, meanwh le they take all of your perso al information. I think it’s a i ‘s a little bit of a Pavlovian k nd of situation to be hones
Sasha Codrington: 23:27
I’m more concerned about the companies that I know are profiting off of my data and information. Like for example, I know the Eaton center, they have a system that tracks your face as you go from store to store. Yeah, Cadillac Fairview malls, they have a facial recognition system and they’re tracking- Since when? This was months ago, Gabi. At least.
Gabi Gomes: 23:50
Okay, I haven’t been at the Eaton center since.
Jeremy Linskill: 23:53
And will never go again.
Sasha Codrington: 23:55
But I know they’re using that information to their benefit and to their profit. So that’s where I would be a little bit more hesitant. And it’s the same with let’s say, Facebook, and Amazon and Instagram, like them having all of that information, I know they’re doing something to their benefit with it, which makes me a little bit more hesitant versus let’s say, the government or electronic medical records, I know that they’re not really benefiting off of my data in that way. So I’m more more confident and comfortable for them because there are more measures in place for their security and they aren’t going to profit off of utilizing my data either.
Gabi Gomes: 24:30
What was the Facebook movie?
Jeremy Linskill: 24:31
Gabi Gomes: 24:32
Social dilemma, you’re right. I think everybody – that should be like a required viewing for everybody that is on Facebook. I think a lot of people are blind to it. And because Facebook is just so social, whatever they don’t see the collection –
Jeremy Linskill: 24:48
I don’t know that I agree with you. I think we’re way past people being blind about this stuff. That was that was five years ago, 10 years. I think now everyone’s aware.
Sasha Codrington: 24:56
They don’t want to put in the extra effort required to protect themselves. I think, they’re thinking this is the world, I can’t escape it. I’d say that’s where I’m at, like, I want a phone, I have friends on social media, I’m going to use those things for the convenience and I am paying the price in terms of my data. It’s the reward thing.
Brad Breininger: 25:14
It’s the reward thing. You know, Sasha, that that is that is precisely it. It’s not a social dilemma. It’s a personal dilemma. And all of us personally have to decide do we want to go for the convenience, the ease the accessibility, all of those great things that make our lives better and easier? Or do we want to protect our privacy? And here’s a question protect it from what exactly what are we protecting? Are we able to protect ourselves? And here’s the thing, if seven out of the 8 billion people on earth all agree to be involved in this the other billion, what are they going to go hide in the woods somewhere, like I just don’t understand what their life is going to look like. So it really becomes this personal dilemma. And I think as it moves from that personal dilemma, it moves into what brands need to consider. What’s that phrase, whatever has left the building, the horse has left the stable, it’s already done, this is already going at full speed ahead. And I think that ultimately, what we have to decide as organizations and as brands and in helping brands is where do we sit on that continuum? How are we collecting data? How are we using that data? How are we allowing people to interact with us more and more, that’s becoming digital, it’s not happening over the phone, it’s not happening by photocopying your license. It’s not happening by these other things. It’s happening by these digital IDs that are eventually going to be apparent across the entire board and brands need to be prepared for that they need to understand the implications of that they need to look to these bigger organizations like Apple and Amazon as to what technology is coming next. Because you guys are all right, it’s really those organizations that determine direction and then ultimately, these brands are gonna have to decide where they fit in that continuum, and it’s not going to be an option they are going to have to deal with digital ID and we’re gonna have to deal with it personally and the brands are going to have to deal with it in their business. So that’s this edition of everything is brand. Join us next week for another discussion, a few agreements and disagreements and remember, everything is brand