Digital IDs: The Ecosystem Underpinning Adoption in 2024 and Beyond

Last updated: 13 June 2024

Five years on from the inception of Thales Digital Identity and Security, it’s an opportunity to reflect on this milestone, while also looking ahead to what the next five years have in store. While we have a good idea of where we’ll be in that time – the pace of change never fails to amaze us at Thales. Take the adoption of digital IDs as an example; it’s estimated that by the time the year is out there will be over one billion in use across the globe.

If you regularly read this blog, you’ll be aware of the many benefits digital identities bring with them – for end-users, businesses and organisations alike – so this adoption rate might not seem to be a huge surprise. What is interesting though, has been the drivers behind this growth. For example, did you know that

  • 72% of digital ID adoption comes from the APAC region and 15% from the EU
  • Mobile drivers’ licenses represent the biggest proportion of digital IDs in circulation 
  • 70% of those in circulation have been issued by governments

It might be a surprise to those not directly in the industry that public organisations have been such a driving force behind this adoption. There’s a classic stereotype that it’s often the private sector that drives digital transformation. But when it comes to digital identities, both private and public sector organisations have a key role in fuelling their widespread adoption and safe development.

Enhancing security & convenience for citizens

A prime example of a successful government rollout of a digital ID scheme is in Queensland, Australia. For years our team has worked closely with the government there to deliver the state’s first digital licence app (a mobile driver’s license).

The ID gives all the same uses and validity as a traditional driver’s licence and serves as a proof of age. The wallet can also host identity credentials as well as marine licenses.

Designing IDs with privacy at the core 

In contrast, Europe presents a unique ecosystem where banks, telcos, and national posts have been the primary drivers of digital identity schemes. These schemes have achieved very high penetration rates among their national population (in some cases upwards of 90% of eligible users), who use them daily to connect to hundreds of online services.

Most private sector organisations are subject to very stringent rules and regulations – particularly in sectors such as banking – ensuring that these schemes enforce data privacy and stringent security measures to protect user data.

Interoperability will lead to greater adoption

On the surface it looks like a tale as old as time… the public sector brings users, the private sector brings security. While on the very surface that might be true – it’s the combination of these two factors that can really usher in the age of the digital ID.

We can’t talk about this and not mention the eIDAS legislation. The eIDAS directive, not only requires all EU member states to make ID wallets available, but organisations must adhere to certain LoA standards. The schemes enforce data privacy and security measures, enabling them to protect citizens’ data. These frameworks ensure interoperability and security, essential for the widespread adoption – and trust – of digital identities.

The digital identity landscape is at a pivotal juncture, with collaboration between public and private sectors fostering a secure and user-friendly environment. This collaboration comes at a time where legislation is maturing – giving users greater confidence that their data is secured. Not that I want to wish the next five years away, but I am keen to see just how this ecosystem of public and private collaboration has evolved in that time.

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