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Giesecke+Devrient and Vodafone Develop eID for Smartphones

New electronic ID function for smartphones 

  • Jointly developed by Vodafone, Bundesdruckerei and Giesecke+Devrient 
  • Simple and secure ID data storage on the eSIM 
  • Use e-government services, open bank accounts or book rental cars with the smartphone
  • A Europe-wide solution for all smartphone makes and models

People would be lost without their smartphones today. We use them for communication, navigation, entertainment and even payments. Aware that it’s high time for a smartphone-based ID function that allows us to use our smartphones for other things, such as opening bank accounts, booking rental cars or e-government services, the German government set up its ‘Digital Identities’ project.  Bundesdruckerei, Giesecke+Devrient and Vodafone are also actively involved in the German Ministry for Economic Affair’s ‘Secure Digital Identities’ showcase programme. These initiatives prompted Bundesdruckerei GmbH, Giesecke+Devrient and Vodafone to plan their own collaborative project and develop an eID function for smartphones. One of the key elements of the eID service is an eSIM integrated in the smartphone for the secure storage of the user’s personal identification data. The solution will appeal to a broad customer base because it is manufacturer-independent and thus compatible with a wide range of smartphone models. In many cases the eID function eliminates the need to hold the ID card up to the smartphone, so users can identify themselves online in a simple and secure process.  

Smartphone-based identity verification in the digital world

The goal is to transfer the identity card’s online ID function to smartphone users’ eSIMs for identification (online registration) or authentication (online login) applications before the end of this year.  When that happens, it will be possible to use one single device for entire digital rental car booking or account opening processes, without the need to present a physical ID card. The same applies to e-government services. Unlocking doors is another function set to be taken over by the smartphone because digital house, hotel and car keys can all be temporarily or permanently stored on the eSIM.  

Set up is easy for smartphone users: here’s how 

Users set up the service up by downloading an app, which is due to be launched in autumn 2021, for registration of their physical ID document. To transfer the ID data to the smartphone and verify them the physical ID document (ID card, electronic residence permit or eID card for EU citizens) has to be held up to the back of the smartphone once. After entering the PIN the ID data are read out and saved on the eSIM in a matter of seconds. The data are stored in a decentralised repository ensuring that the user has exclusive control over them.  Once the registration process is complete, the smartphone can be used for high-trust online logins or registrations.

One concept – multiple advantages 

The architects of the fast and secure eID concept are Bundesdruckerei, Giesecke+Devrient and Vodafone. The technology is compatible with the eSIMs of all European mobile network operators, offering a high-reach standard European mobile eID solution for fast market penetration. At the same time, it is manufacturer-independent and can currently be deployed on all Android-based smartphones with eSIM. Further regulatory actions will be necessary to make the eID function available to Android and iOS customers, and for the Europe-wide storage of sensitive data on smartphones. eSIM technology achieves the high level of security necessary for ID solutions with established security concepts, as well as production and server infrastructure audits. The Federal Office for Information Security (BS) is currently defining the requirements for the potential certification of the mobile eID solution.

Source: Giesecke+Devrient media announcement

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