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The journey towards digital identity in Germany has been fraught with optimism, failure, and continued persistence. It is currently at a crossroads – consumer and private sector behavior indicate a readiness to embrace digital identity, while the public sector may be vulnerable to path dependency and repeating past mistakes. However, the overall trend is that the new era for digital identity in Germany is arriving: the invitation is sent by the public sector, the solutions being developed by the public sector and in public/private partnerships, and behavior among consumers shifting to accept digital flows. It is up to businesses and service providers to take an active role in leveraging the opportunity of digital identity in Germany by solving concrete use cases through the right technology mix.

Commissioned by SIGNICAT

1 Introduction / Executive Summary

Digital identity in Germany is at a crossroads: long a source of optimism and failure, Germany can continue in a path-dependent way to pursue eID functionality for its citizens who are largely uninformed of the advantages. Or it can take the opportunity of surrounding regional digital identity trends and successes, and invite businesses to participate in the process for a more agile approach. There are indicators that Germany is choosing the latter by prioritizing digitalization initiatives. And organizations can proactively participate, benefiting from the efficiencies of digital identities for their business. A digital identity that is verified against a real-world identity that is widespread and useable across organizations, industries, or even countries is still a work in progress, but is poised for greater functionality and adoption by businesses and individuals alike.

In order to stay ahead of the digital identity curve, business and service providers should pay attention to the momentum in Germany – not just the momentum from the public sector around eIDAS 2.0 for example, but to the other trends and changing behaviors from within the country and around the world. Changing consumer opinions on digitization, habits around banking, payments, and use of digital identity functions indicate a growing readiness to embrace improved solutions. And industry uptake of verified digital identity is on the rise, with a clear path to further growth.

The benefits of digital identity are clear for the business: An all-digital onboarding flow improves user experience, reduces abandonment, increases compliance due to consistent procedures, and provides customization options for each individual use case. With the signs indicating a readiness for better digital identity in Germany, the right technology mix becomes a very important component for success. Secure, fast, and all-digital options exist for identity verification; federating (or using the identity even though it was issued by a separate entity) eID, bankID, automated identity verification flows, reference transfers, and use of qualified electronic signatures (QES) are among the options.

Key components to consider when selecting the right technology mix for a digital identity solution will include high functionality with exceptional user experience. It will also include widespread applicability for a network of institutions with simple ways for businesses to leverage these network effects to onboard, authenticate, and elevate transactions with more security or signatures. Such a solution must be flexible and extensible: flexible to provide adjustable levels of assurance to each use case or flow, and extensible to handle the increasingly complex interoperability needs and security considerations. Advancements in these technologies make for increasingly user-friendly, functional, and secure solutions.

Signicat’s Digital Identity Platform is a compelling offering composed of verified onboarding new users, authentication, and digital signature products. It enables businesses to leverage the verified identities of primarily European eIDs for onboarding, authentication, electronic signatures, seals, and time stamps. Signicat has global coverage of identity validation (through partners), in addition to access to more than 100 repositories for verification of user input, as well as adding additional information, typically used in the KYC/KYB process. Signicat has a primarily European focus, but is expanding their global coverage and will be deepening its presence in Germany and the DACH region in 2023.

Businesses and service providers can prepare for a future with digital identity by better understanding their users and designing verification, enrollment, and authentication flows that best suit their needs. User education will be an important part of success, as will an iterative approach. Overall, businesses should look for the right technology mix which delivers functionality and wide applicability with security and ease of use.

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