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Wallet-to-wallet coverage: digital identity opportunity arrives with eIDAS 2.0

Speakers at EIC weigh the compliance stance against more affirmative perspective
Wallet-to-wallet coverage: digital identity opportunity arrives with eIDAS 2.0

The European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) took over Berlin this week, bringing together experts from a wide range of enterprises to hash out tough questions around digital identity, regulation, generative AI and more.

The event has been buzzing over the coming implementation of eIDAS 2.0 and the EU digital identity wallet (EUDI) projects that it brings with it. The new regulation is expected to transform life in the EU in a major step toward digitizing identity, access to financial transactions, government services and potentially many other aspects of life.

In preparing for the update to the original eIDAS (“electronic identification, authentication, and trust services”) regulation, much focus has been on the regulation and compliance angle. But in a talk promising “a new €bn Market for ‘Empowerment Tech’,” Jamie Smith, CEO of Customer Futures Ltd., says that with a shift in perspective, eIDAS can be reimagined as an opportunity in the KYC/KYB space and beyond, and reconceptualized as a new kind of networking tool.

“We’ve been doing digital transformation with a handbrake on,” says the decentralized identity expert.

What if, asks Smith, we think of digital wallets, verifiable credentials and personal vaults as a way to build new relationships? He believes that if wallets and the verifiable credentials they carry can be adapted and integrated into enough aspects of the customer journey, the experience will sell itself.

Smith points to the case of Bhutan, which has implemented national digital identity and onboarding for government services via digital wallets. “They’re seeing new parts of the economy digitize – intelligent villages, people getting phones, getting bank accounts. They’re choosing the Bank of Bhutan. It’s a competitive advantage.” Customers, Smith says, will want the kind of convenience and streamlined experience that wallets offer.

In Smith’s vision, EU digital wallets as a vehicle for bilateral empowerment, provided businesses are open to giving customers control of their own data and how it is used – and, crucially, respecting their opinions. “Why use different APIs and data from different parts of the business when you should just ask the customer themselves?” he says. “What’s your latest address, what’s the best marketing practice for you: ask the customer themselves and we can start streaming customer data, and that way we can make things truly digital and not just digitized. I think it’s this new category around empowerment tech, for citizens and for businesses.”

“There’s a billion dollar or billion euro opportunity lurking behind the scenes that, if only we could grasp it, will change the digital economy and will empower citizens for the better,” he says.

Conversations about tech can be utopian to a fault, or mired in doom. The incoming European data regulation and wallet scheme is not as ripe a target as the harms of social media or as spicy as AI that seems to do magic. (Although Smith believes “portable digital identity verifiable credentials might just be the gateway for trusted data that could power our personal AIs.”)

Yet, Smith suggests, eIDAS 2.0 and the EU digital wallet is an innovation in itself, surely to be leveraged far beyond the first-wave applications that are rolling out now.

What the EU does with its new regulation remains a question to be answered. But it is clear that eIDAS 2.0 will formally usher in the era of digital wallets, which will change life into a more digital experience for much of an entire continent. Wallets as we know them have evolved over time, from sack-like receptacles for coins, food and weapons to the sleek leather bifolds sold in luxury Italian leather shops. Digital wallets are the next incarnation of the vessel in which we carry our identities and ourselves.

Biometric Update will have more coverage of the European Identity and Cloud Conference, eIDAS 2.0, digital wallets, decentralized identity, AI and more throughout the next week.

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