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IN Groupe backs blockchain ID project Archipels to fuel expansion

Partners with Entrust to support identity program in Africa
IN Groupe backs blockchain ID project Archipels to fuel expansion

Archipels, a French digital identity consortium and project based on blockchain technology, has raised an unknown amount of capital from IN Groupe to fuel its expansion.

The French ID solutions firm was founded in the 1500s as the French national printer, and specializes in the production of secure documents and personal IDs. These products include French national electronic identity cards, as well as passports for nations all over the world including Lebanon and France itself. They also include a project in Africa which is expanding in partnership with Entrust.

IN Groupe, which now takes a spot on the board of Archipels, will have an equal ownership stake to its other founding shareholders, French public sector investor Caisse des Dépôts and France’s largest postal firm La Poste.

The Paris-based project says it plans to increase its footprint in international markets, primarily Europe and North Africa, as well as speed up commercial development and expand its decentralized identity services.

Archipels says it aims to double its headcount by the end of 2024, in departments such as sales, partnerships, product development, and technical functions, and also plans to double its customer base by the end of 2023.

Archipels is part of two consortia made up of several European Union member states and industrialists, set up to manage the pilot’s deployment of the European digital identity wallet (EUDI Wallet) commissioned by the European Commission. It is also an Associate Member of the Secure Identity Alliance.

The EUDI wallet is an upcoming mobile phone app that promises citizens of the EU’s 27 constitutional countries a way to store and share digital identity data.

Hervé Bonazzi, CEO of Archipels, says that by working with companies such as IN Groupe and Docapost, the consortium will be “able to benefit from synergies and accelerate the adoption of our technologies by a greater number of companies and organizations.”

Didier Trutt, chairman and CEO of IN Groupe, adds: “Our entry into Archipels’ capital is part of the execution of IN Groupe’s 2025 Digital Odyssey strategy around identities and digital services of the future, in physical and digital environments.”

This investment is a key step in the development and deployment of decentralized identity solutions that can guarantee sovereignty for governments and data security for users.”

The news comes the European digital identity (EUDI) wallet which Archipels is involved in is attracting significant amounts of funding for its own expansion.

Earlier this month, The European Commission announced it is set to invest €46 million (roughly US$49 million) into the European digital identity (EUDI) wallet, in the form of four pan-European pilot programs.

Archipels, founded in 2020 and with a current headcount of roughly 18, has already won some important domestic projects.  In December 2022, The Banque de France appointed Archipels to work on the issue of authentication and digital identity for credit institutions.

IN Groupe and Entrust expand partnership for African government’s identity program

IN Groupe has also expanded its partnership with Entrust to modernize an unnamed African government’s identity program.

The companies said this will improve security and scalability to help address identity challenges in the present and future.

The expansion will see IN Groupe utilize the Entrust Datacard MX Series Card Issuance System, a hardware solution which allows users to print their own electronic cards, alongside its ‘Drop on Demand’ printing technology.

This system will allow for a durable and modern card format according to companies, while also providing new security features.

In addition, the companies say the MX Series’ technology will allow the African government to implement electronic identity credentials as part of their ID issuance program in the future.

The news follows Entrust winning a contract with the UK government in April 2023, which will see it use its technology to aid the digitization of the UK immigration system.

“Our customers need technology that can help them find a balance between strong security and the ability to scale from a capacity and feature perspective,” says Yann Haguet, vice president of Identity Strategic Business Unit at IN Groupe. “Because we’ve had a long-standing partnership with Entrust, we have a deep knowledge of their solutions and are confident that together we can bring to our customers the peace of mind that their identities will be more secure now and into the future.”

The implementation of digital identity programs in Africa has some significant proponents.

Last month, The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change found South African residents could save $620 million annually from the introduction of such a program for opening of bank and electronic money accounts, with the greatest economic benefits flowing to the elderly and rural women.

Similar programs in Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire were predicted to save $9.7 million annually and $43.7 million respectively.

Many African countries are already working with Western firms on the development of their national digital identity systems.

Togo recently brought on board Atos and Idemia for the implementation of its planned national ID program. The West African country’s MOSIP (Modular Open-Source Identification Platform) based system is set to include data from finger, face and iris scans.

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