The government of Estonia is searching for a new mobile identity provider. The country’s current provider is SK ID Solutions, which has been managing Estonia’s current Mobile-ID system for the past 10 years.
The problem, according to the state, is that the old system uses older technology that does not function unless a special SIM card has been installed in the user’s smartphone. That makes it far less convenient than more modern systems that are not tied to such a card. As it stands, the official state-provided Mobile-ID has around 225,000 active users, while the non-SIM-based Smart-ID solution (also developed by SK ID Solutions) has 580,000.
Smart-ID offers many of the same utilities as the state-backed Mobile-ID, insofar as both provide users with a digital credential that can be used for authentication, proof of identity, and to create a digital signature. However, the state-backed Mobile-ID can be used during elections, while the unofficial Smart-ID cannot.
SK ID Solutions is a joint venture between Swedbank, SEB Pank and Telia Eesti, and will be helping with the tender process as the state searches for a new provider. Belgium’s Mobile ID will also be involved with the procurement. Tenders are expected to arrive in September, in the hopes that the new solution will be up and running by July of 2022. The country’s search has already been delayed, with Estonia having originally hoped to launch its new system in January.
In the meantime, SK ID Solutions will continue to support for the Mobile-ID system for another five years to provide a degree of consistency for those using the system beyond the conclusion of its contract with the state. The Estonian government is planning to update its digital identity system in the future to keep pace with the latest technology, and indicated that it could eventually roll out a digital ID that makes use of biometrics.
That statement reflects Estonia’s ongoing interest in modern identity solutions. The government is currently trying to build a centralized biometric database, and recently started issuing a new ePassport booklet developed by HID Global.