The government of Estonia has renewed its contract with its current digital identity provider. The news ends a period of uncertainty, and will ensure continuity of service for Estonian residents as the country continues to explore new identity technologies.
The Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) had originally been hoping to replace its Mobile-ID solution with a more modern alternative, but had trouble securing a willing partner. SK ID Solutions AS, the developer of Mobile-ID, opted not to submit a tender when RIA kicked off its search last August, citing concerns about interoperability and Mobile-ID’s clunky onboarding process. Meanwhile, the one bid that RIA did receive failed to meet the country’s technology and budgetary expectations.
The RIA now seems to have relaxed those demands, at least for the time being. The agency’s contract with SK ID Solutions was set to expire on June 30, and would have left Estonians without a digital identity provider if it was not replaced. As ERR News reports, the RIA decided to renew its contract for another five years to avoid any such disruptions. The new contract extends Mobile-ID service in its existing form, and will ensure that residents with Mobile-IDs will be able to continue to use them to access online services beyond July 2.
For its part, the RIA is hoping that the extra five years will give the digital identity market more time to mature. The agency acknowledged that it would not have been able to develop a satisfactory solution ahead of the summer deadline, and believes that digital wallets will be more readily available (and become more user friendly) in the coming years.
“The unsuccessful Mobile-ID procurement in the end of last year showed that there is currently no new technological solution offered which would be compatible with the situation of the Estonian e-state without extensive development and which would offer actual added value for the users,” said RIA State Information System Director Joonas Heiter. “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.”
SK ID Solutions is also the developer of the Smart-ID digital identity solution, which offers a smoother onboarding process and enjoys higher adoption rates than Mobile-ID in Estonia. The RIA had hoped to migrate to a system like the Smart-ID offering, but the two sides were apparently unable to come to terms for the present moment.
As it stands, Mobile-ID has 251,000 users and facilitates about ten million interactions on an average monthly basis. Smart-ID exceeds 600,000 users, but cannot be used for certain government applications. Children will be able to start using Mobile-IDs with the permission of their parents once they reach the age of seven, while Estonia introduced a biometric ID card in 2021.