Estonia signs SK ID as mobile digital ID provider after search for alternatives
Estonia’s government has inked a five-year contract for digital identity application Mobile-ID with company SK ID, completing a search that faced a delay after the public procurement process failed to surface any other qualified bidders.
Public broadcaster ERR reports that the Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) and SK ID signed a new contract to renew the use of Mobile-ID in Estonia starting July 2. All previously-issued Mobile-IDs will remain usable until the end of the five-year period of validity. It is available for children aged seven and up with parental permission.
Estonia is widely regarded as a pioneer in digital governance and ID, with countries often looking to its implementation as a blueprint for their systems.
In 2021, the country issued a tender to replace its mobile digital ID system managed by Swedbank, SEB Pank, and Telia Eesti since a 2010 contract win. Initial plans were for introduction of the new digital ID system by January 2022, but delays with the public procurement process forced it back. Tenders were expected to be reached during the second half of September, and the new solution to be operational by July 2022.
There were some expectations for biometrics to be included in a new Estonian mobile digital ID to add an extra layer of security beyond a SIM card, but the selection of SK ID by the RIA does not appear to include any biometrics integration for Mobile-ID.
Joonas Heiter, director of the State Information System at RIA, told ERR that the organization was not seeking a novel solution which “simply cannot be developed in six months.” He added that the “unsuccessful” Mobile-ID procurement from 2021 showed there was currently no new technological solution that would be compatible with the situation of the Estonian e-state without extensive development and would offer actual added value for the users. Belgium’s Mobile ID supplier expressed interest, but did not meet all of the criteria.
There are currently 251,000 users of Mobile-ID with about ten million digital identity operations per month on average, according to ERR.
The RIA is looking to an e-wallet or digital wallet with the developments of electronic identity in the European Union, with Heiter telling ERR that, “Technology will change in five years and by that time, there will probably be an innovative solution which can offer more options for the users.”