Zak Hussein found out just how much Canadians want to travel after nearly 500,000 people pre-registered for his vaccine passport app "PORTpass" just three weeks after it was announced.

Hussein is a tech developer in Calgary and the CEO of PORTpass, a mobile "digital health app" that lets its users show vaccination and test information when travelling around the world.

While there's no official launch date yet, Hussein said the interest in the app is so high that hundreds of people are pre-registering every minute.

"You can clearly see that people want a decentralized system," he said. "They want to work with private sector and start travelling and go to beaches, travel business or just meet loved ones."

How does the vaccine passport work?

To use Hussein's app — which is free — Canadians need to get a proof of vaccination (or "credential") issued to them by their health care system. Then they can input that credential in order to show it to officials when they're allowed to travel around the globe again.

Hussein said the credential goes onto the phone and is secured with Blockchain technology, a "decentralized" strategy that means the record is only available on the user's phone and nowhere else.

Keenly aware of privacy issues, Hussein — who said he's working with several cybersecurity firms — said that people can get scared by the notion of a vaccine passport, but it's a reality of our time.

"The world is asking for [vaccine information] when we travel, with or without us, it's still happening. So we're gonna need it," he said. "I think, as Canadians, that's what we're about. We come together when crisis has happened and find a solution."

Vaccine passports in Canada

Canada recently revealed that it's working on an addition to the ArriveCan app, which will allow people arriving in Canada to show their vaccine certification. But PORTpass is for people travelling outside of Canada and abroad, Hussein said.

"I do want to work with Canada. I think this is a great opportunity to show Canadian innovation, Canadian technology," Hussein said. "And to show that ... we really did come together as a private sector and the government."

The app will launch "very soon," Hussein said, with 10-second updates so that the app can always stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and restrictions.

Whatever the restrictions look like when the app officially launches, Hussein said that the appetite for travel is plain to see.

"People are ready to go visit their loved ones, their friends, their family or just do business," he said. "And that's a really exciting thing for me to see."