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  • Thierry Spanjaard

The EU goes digital!

The European authorities, the European Commission, Parliament and Council of the European Union, have set up plans to change the future of 450 million citizens thanks to Digital ID. The EU Digital Identity wallet project aims at enabling European citizens to store their government and commercial credentials on their wallet on their phone. Not only national ID, driving license and other government-issued documents will be stored, but they will coexist with private secure credentials such as banking cards and other payment-related data.

The goal of the EU is to set up a global framework that will be recognized by all 27 member states and allow citizens to benefit from the same services regardless where they are in the EU. This is a bold move as, at present, each country has set up its own national ID system, based on its own principles. The EU Digital Identity wallet is based on privacy fundamentals: avoid central databases by locating users’ data on their devices and giving them control over how it is accessed. It will reach the eIDAS high level of assurance, according to its promoters. At the same time, the eIDAS standard is being revised and a new version eIDAS 2.0 is under way.

The EU Digital Identity wallet is expected to be launched in 2024, which means developments, tests and pilots have to take place starting in 2023. A consequence of this ambitious planning is that pilots are run while standards are under development and the legal framework is still being developed.

When the EU Digital Identity wallet is operational, citizens will be able to use it for government interactions, such as proving one’s identity, age, or right to operate a vehicle; they will also be able to complete payments, use digital signatures, etc.

Leading players in the industry have set up the “EUDI Wallet Consortium (EWC),” including over 60 participants, from both private and public sector. The consortium aims at piloting usage scenarios requiring the collaboration of a multitude of European partners such as Wallet Providers, Qualified Attestation and other trust services, Personal Identification Data (PID)-/ Organizational Digital Identity (ODI)-Providers, relying parties such as travel agencies, airlines, ferry operators, as well as international payment providers. Participants in the consortium include Thales, Idemia, Visa, Amadeus, Finnair, and many others.

Another consortium called “POTENTIAL (PilOTs for EuropeaN digiTal Identity wALlet) consortium” includes 148 participants from 19 EU member states from Northern, Western, Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe, representing more than 70% of the European population, and Ukraine. They plan to set up pilots for SIM eRegistration, Account opening, eDriving License, eGov services, eSignature and ePrescription. Not all members are identified, although some of them have announced their participation in the “POTENTIAL Consortium,” including Idemia, Netheos and Namirial, LuxTrust, Docaposte, Thales, among others.

A separate consortium “Nordic-Baltic eID (NOBID),” including stakeholders from Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia and Norway, announced it will focus on a cross-border payments pilot. NOBID’s proposal is supported by financial services players including DSGV in Germany, DNB and BankID in Norway, Nets in Denmark, Intesa Sanpaolo, PagoPA and ABILab in Italy and Greiðsluveitan in Iceland. The consortium’s technology partners include Thales, iProov, Signicat, RB, Auðkenni, IPZS, Poste Italiane, Intesi Group, InfoCert, FBK and Latvian State Radio and Television Centre.

With so many good fairies watching over its cradle, we can only hope the EU Digital Identity wallet will be delivered efficiently and on time.

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