Digital ID – Day in the life of a digital citizen after eIDAS2

Last updated: 10 November 2022

Imagine you’re a French national going to study abroad in Greece for one semester, and all the logistics involved in setting up home there temporarily. All these logistics often require various touch points where you will have to prove your identity; usually with various means (passport, proof of address, education, income etc.) When you arrive at the Greek university, you just need to open your wallet and present a digitalised version of your diploma for the university officer to check your eligibility. Simply scan a QR code to create a secure communication channel from which encrypted data can be exchanged. This information has already been validated and proven by a trusted authority. The same process would apply to prove your identity  to easily allow you to swiftly set up a Greek bank account, sign a rental contract  – or even prove age on a student night out. Not only it becomes easy to share official documents but those documents are protected and your data is encrypted at all time, and is only available to the right person. So, let’s explore digital IDs…

Digital ID – the journey from hypothetical to reality 

This hypothetical scenario is not one ripped from the science fiction pages, or the result of a futurist prediction. There has been an acceleration towards digital identity recently, meaning that digital IDs are not just used by so called ‘tech-savvy digital natives’, but the wider population. The Covid-19 pandemic, and associated lockdowns served as a major catalyst for this.  

It’s fair to say then, that the concept of digital identification is already well established, and using a smartphone to board a plane, store bankcards or prove vaccination status has become second nature to many of us. But the experience is often clunky, with many forms to fill in, and is not as secure as it could be.  

In fact, a major survey conducted into EU ID by Thales revealed that 45% of Europeans are currently relying on insecure, unofficial, ‘DIY’ (do it yourself) scans and photos of their cards and documents to help prove their identity and entitlements.  

Countdown to European Digital ID 

While the concept of digital identification is already well established, the development of internationally accepted electronic identity (eID) systems has been piecemeal and inconsistent. 

If we look at the EU as an example: only 14% of key public services across all EU Member States allow cross-border authentication with eID; according to the European Commission there is a need to improve acceptance of the scheme and user experience. These roadblocks certainly don’t help in building a strong level of consumer trust.  

However, this is set to change with the introduction of the latest legislation on European Digital Identity – eIDAS2. In short, eIDAS2 means that by September 2023, each EU Member State must make a digital ‘wallet’ available to every citizen and business who wants one. In tandem, service providers in both public and private sector organisations; such as banks and telcos; will have to accept it as proof of certain personal attributes. From providing electronic signatures to paying fines or accessing health services, EU citizens will be able to use the eIDAS wallet, in every Member State; generating millions of authentications every day.  

Thales’s research found that the wallet is set to be welcomed with open arms. Two out of three Europeans citizens are looking forward to the arrival of an EU-backed Digital ID Wallet for storing their ID card, driving license and other official documents and signed attestations on a smartphone. 

Digital ID becoming mainstream 

This acceleration towards Digital ID isn’t just taking place in  the EU – just earlier this year the UK government proposed legislation to secure digital identity, even creating the Office for Digital Identities and Attributes.  

With just under a year away until eIDAS2 comes into force, it will be interesting to see how the conversation, debate and appetite for digital IDs continues to evolve.  

In the countdown towards the eIDAS2, keep checking back on the DIS blog where we’ll be discussing the following topics:  

  • Generational and regional attitudes to the wallet  
  • What Citizens want from a wallet  
  • Challenges and hurdles to overcome to build a streamlined, secure and efficient wallet 

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