Setting the stage

On February 29, 2024, the European Union (EU) Parliament voted in favor of amendments to the eIDAS regulation, marking a significant milestone on the road to a unified standard for European digital identity services. The regulation, which is expected to enter into force by the end of March upon publication in the Official Journal of the EU, will trigger a series of implementation steps. The countdown begins with a six-month period to finalize the technical specifications of the EU Digital ID Wallet, followed by adjustments based on legal file and experiences in large scale pilots. By 2026, all EU member states are mandated to provide digital wallets to every resident, accessible at no cost for acquisition and usage.

Under the new regulation, citizens and businesses could potentially leverage digital wallets to link various personal attributes securely, including driving licenses, diplomas, and national ID cards. Section 5 of the Architecture Reference Framework lists the current mandatory, optional, and possible additional attributes that are included in the eIDAS framework.

The implementation of eIDAS promises a secure, privacy-friendly means for individuals to prove their identity and electronically sign documents, fostering access to public and private services across the EU. The removal of virtual borders facilitated by eIDAS is anticipated to deepen the Digital Single Market and foster further integration within the EU. However, the true measure of success lies in ensuring that these principles extend beyond the borders of the EU.

Bridging boundaries

Achieving interoperability at various levels is essential, including integration with internal organizational systems and compatibility with other verified identity solutions. To gain widespread adoption, the wallet must provide user-friendliness and work seamlessly across international boundaries. Embracing interoperability as a guiding principle is not merely a matter of compliance but a strategic imperative for organizations aiming to thrive in an increasingly interconnected digital world.

Moreover, digital identity issuance and applicability should not be limited to a single organization or use case. If a user possesses a verified digital identity, they should have the ability to utilize it across various purposes, with diverse service providers spanning different industries, and even with public institutions. Consequently, solutions need to be adaptable and scalable, offering flexibility to accommodate varying levels of assurance for each use case or process, while also being scalable to meet the evolving demands of interoperability and security.

At EIC 2023, several presentations focused on digital identity in the context of eIDAS and the EU Digital Identity Wallet. These included presentations that considered how digital wallets can be used in the private sector in EUDI Wallet - Critical Success factors for Digital Single Market and Private Sector Use; how organizations can take advantage of the latest developments in eIDAS 2.0 & Digital Identity Wallet Readiness: What Your Organization Needs to Know About Digital Identity Wallets; and the potential challenges and use cases in eIDAS 2.0 & EU Digital Identity Wallet.

Maximizing business potential

In my previous blog post, I delved into some of the challenges posed by the eIDAS regulation and the EU Digital ID Wallet. However, in this post, we will shift our focus to explore the potential business advantages. Moving beyond the regulatory landscape, the business implications of digital identities extend far beyond traditional Identity and Access Management (IAM) frameworks. These digital identities serve as enablers for cross-organizational use, offering reusable, decentralized approaches that improve and expand business processes. In addition, as discussed in this Advisory Note, enterprises have already reached a point where centralized identity management is neither desirable nor possible because existing centralized approaches to identity, authentication, interoperability, and security don't fit and won't scale with emerging technologies.

To ensure adoption and integration within enterprises, the following areas will be addressed by the EU Digital Identity Wallet:

  • Identity Verification (KYC): The EU Wallet will offer robust identity verification capabilities to streamline Know Your Customer (KYC) processes for organizations. By leveraging secure and efficient verification methods, enterprises can enhance the security and reliability of customer identity verification.
  • Strong User Authentication: Enterprises mandated to implement strong user authentication measures will benefit from the EU Wallet's advanced authentication features.
  • Integration with Major Platforms: The EU Wallet will support authentication on major online platforms, including social networks, search engines, and e-commerce marketplaces. By enabling interoperability with these gatekeeper platforms, enterprises can ensure widespread acceptance of the EU Wallet among users.

Therefore, as organizations navigate the implications of eIDAS and the EU Digital Identity Wallet, it's imperative to recognize not only the challenges but also the vast array of business opportunities presented. The wallet serves as a central repository for proof of identity and other attributes, streamlining numerous business use cases and offering users unparalleled convenience. In addition, integrating digital wallets with existing IAM systems can streamline onboarding processes for remote workers, saving time and money while increasing security. For partner collaboration, digital identity wallets provide secure access to shared resources and data, promoting trust while ensuring privacy and compliance.

Regardless of their size or industry, enterprises can benefit significantly from adopting digital identity wallet solutions. By embracing these technologies and tailoring their implementation strategies to their specific needs and challenges, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth, innovation, and user satisfaction in today's digital economy.

Find out what identity, cloud, and security industry experts, thought leaders, practitioners, and peers are thinking and doing by joining us at EIC 2024 taking place in Berlin and online from 4-7 June.  We will be discussing the latest developments and the role that digital identities play in the enterprise space.

Global Impact: How will the EU Digital Identity Wallet affect non-EU residents or businesses operating outside the EU?

The European Digital Identity Wallet should apply to the EU's nearly 450 million residents, but experts say its impact could be felt far beyond that because of the EU's leadership role in creating regulations and policies that serve as a global standard.

Security Concerns: What are the key security challenges, and how does the regulation address them to ensure the protection of user data?

Given that the EU Digital Identity Wallet requires the storage of documents, cryptographic keys, and other sensitive information on mobile platforms, it is vulnerable to various risks, including loss, hardware malfunction, and unauthorized access by hackers and thieves. Protecting the integrity and confidentiality of digital wallet data is critical and requires robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access and ensure controlled access for authorized users. Nevertheless, its legal backing and the EU's commitment to neutrality, security and user privacy sets the EU Digital Identity Wallet apart from corporate digital wallets.