The EU Commission recently presented a framework for the introduction of European Digital Identity, which will include digital identity wallets, enabling citizens to prove their identity and share electronic documents. This proposed framework essentially represents an interoperable European digital ID produced by Member States, which will be linked to national digital identifications. This idea is something that Protokol wholeheartedly supports. We’ve already seen a number of digital ID solutions across the world, such as the Ethiopian Ministry of Education’s use of blockchain-based digital IDs for students and teachers, or the planned usage of digital IDs in Australia’s private sector as well as by the Australian government. However, the EU is really paving the way here with the establishment of a European-wide digital ID, which aims to give EU citizens access to the same services, regardless of which member state they are in.
Why do we need digital identity wallets?
Digital identity wallets are more than just practical – it’s a question of being in control of your data. The wallets will hold citizens’ digital identities. The identities allow users to verify their identity and their personal data whilst also maintaining control over it. Users can choose which aspects of their data they want to share with third parties, and keep track of what has been shared where. With data privacy concerns higher than ever amidst news of TikTok harvesting biodata and calls for government bodies to leave Facebook, digital identities give users back control over personal information.
These digital identities will be housed in digital wallets. Practically, these wallets make it easier for businesses and citizens using digital IDs to house their national identities and other official documents, such as university qualifications. Citizens only need a smartphone to access these wallets, so anyone can use them and maintain the documents kept in them.
Currently, as wallets will be linked to national identities, the production of these wallets will be the responsibility of each individual EU Member State. Member States may produce them internally or outsource to private companies, with the essential point being that each wallet is officially validated by a national authority.
However, having different systems in place for digital identity wallets could cause problems when citizens travel between different EU countries. To avoid these issues, The EU needs an interoperable system, which ensures that all EU wallets can interact with each other, and ultimately makes the user experience for EU citizens seamless, regardless of which Member State they are in. The benefits of an interoperable, unified system are clear. If digital wallets are interoperable, sharing data is more streamlined, making the process easier for all users and authorities. Wallets can still be managed by individual Member States, but ensuring that all wallets can interact with each other is essential for ease of use.
Digital wallets bring authenticity
With digital wallets, a number of functions are brought under one roof. This not only includes digital IDs, but also digital signatures, public administrative tasks, and private sector uses like accessing spaces or e-Seals – legally valid electronic seals or signatures associated with a legal entity. This makes these processes more efficient, as they all exist in one place. The main benefit of housing these functions in a digital wallet, though, is that they are all verifiable and trustworthy thanks to the wallet.
Blockchain technology, which can underpin these digital IDs, is a digital ledger that cannot be tampered with. The information on the blockchain is disseminated across a decentralised network, while also securing it across said network with its innate cryptographic nature. This ensures that the information on the blockchain is secure. This further secures the information in the wallet.
The EBSI wallet architecture
The European Blockchain Services Infrastructure, EBSI is setting the standard for the first EU-wide blockchain infrastructure, driven by the public sector, in full respect of European values and regulations. As more and more data moves online, we need to ensure that it is protected. That is EBSI’s aim. EBSI is designed as a market-friendly ecosystem based on open standards and a transparent governance model. EBSI has so far developed a Wallet reference Library that partners can use to implement generic EBSI compliant wallet architecture.
At Protokol, we welcome these standards and best practices and look to bridge them both within the public and private sectors in close collaboration with EBSI.
Alongside the framework proposal for digital identity wallets, the European Commission has issued a recommendation inviting Member States to agree on a ‘common toolbox’. This toolbox will lay the foundation of the technical architecture, as well as the standards and guidelines for best practices. This foundation will be important for aligning Member States’ solutions to ensure that they are interoperable, and is something the Commission wants to have in place by September of 2021.
Building on existing architecture
As experts in building digital wallets, Protokol fully supports the commission’s proposal. Protokol’s enterprise-grade technology is well suited as a blockchain-powered identity-as-a-service provider. Utilizing the ARK blockchain platform amongst others, Protokol delivers pluggable and customizable identity-as-a-service solutions to help better manage customer data, as well as the development of digital identity wallets. We want to build on the existing EBSI wallet architecture to bring a streamlined, practical and secure wallet for EU citizens who want it. We intend to help build an interoperable EBSI wallet that can be utilised by all Member States.
Partner with us
We are always looking to build alliances with like-minded organisations to help bring new technologies to EU citizens. If you would like to partner with Protokol, reach out to us using the contact form.
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