Electronic identity, or e-ID, is becoming increasingly popular across Europe, as we’ve discussed on the blog. The technology brings benefits for both citizens, enterprises and governments, allowing people to engage with public services more flexibly and conveniently as well as with private companies, while empowering states to streamline administrative processes. Already, 21 EU member states are issuing e-ID solutions to their populations, while 20 more are developing an electronic identity architecture, encompassing PCs, tablets and mobile devices. Recognizing the enormous opportunities e-ID offers, the European Commission drafted e-IDAS. So, what exactly is it, and what is the growth potential for MNOs (Mobile Network Operators)?
The EU has declared its ambition to create a single digital market for the continent, so eIDAS should be seen in this context. The legislation provides a judicial basis for the mutual recognition and acceptance of e-ID and authentication within the European Union and ensures people and businesses can use their own national e-IDs to access private or public services in other EU countries. Significantly, the regulation aims to establish an internal European market for electronic trust services (ETS) delivered by trust service providers (TSPs) for signature-based authentication, covering electronic signatures, seals, time stamps, delivery services and authentication.
There are many legitimate players which could be involved in the e-IDAS landscape – these include governments, private companies like Certification Authorities, Banks….and crucially, MNOs.
But why might the role of MNOs be so important? Here are their five key assets:
The five key assets
MNOs have five key strengths, enabling them to take a key role within e-IDAS regulations:
- Cross-border and international presence – MNOs tend to be well-known internationally and can weave together their local and global perspectives to deliver high-quality e-ID architecture
- Detailed knowledge of user segmentation – MNOs possess large amounts of end-user data, which can be used to build customer-centric, convenient electronic identity solutions
- Infrastructures and processes for service deployment and management – MNOs are experienced at delivering transnational digital services, such as mobile payments, mobile transport services
- Enrolment processes – MNOs are experts in customer enrolment processes, allowing them to advise on constructing user-friendly customer journeys, streamlining e-ID applications and maximizing engagement
Ownership of SIM cards for security-critical authentication services – MNOs are uniquely placed to deliver robust authentication services, in particular those requiring high levels of assurance and security: cross-border contracts between companies, access to government websites, healthcare, remote enrolment to universities, etc.
By enabling trust and security in a digital single market for Europe, e-IDAS allows MNOs to play a key role in transnational projects linked to the private and public sectors. The potential for cross-border services and businesses are considerable. For instance, MNOs can enable seamless Website authentication for eCommerce across borders, help companies offer remote access to their networks and assist a broader range of governments in delivering citizen services.
Additionally, with the EFTA Trade and Investment Partnership deal between the EU and Canada, the potential for digital economy growth could increase even further.
The market is now ready and there are many legitimate players in this rapidly expanding digital ecosystem. Under the eIDAS regulation, eIDs must be recognized in all European countries by 2018. MNOs have a unique opportunity to play a key role in this field.
What’s your perspective on the role of MNOs in the new electronic identity landscape? How do you envisage the future of e-ID? Let us know by tweeting to us at @GemaltoMobile, or by posting a comment below.