Electronic ID cards set to proliferate

Universal, multi application cards will be the main trend on the electronic identification (eID) market for the coming years, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Many European countries have introduced new ways to interact with their citizens using this cost-effective strategy to justify citizen’s identity for access, payment or as a digital signature. The Universal Electronic Card (UEC) introduced recently in Russia is the most complex project in Europe, covering a great number of verticals.

The European eID cards market has been growing recently. According to the latest Frost & Sullivan report for EMEA region titled ‘World Government and ID Smart Cards Market’, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in this market will be 4.4% (2008-2016) with the number of units growing from 388 million to 451 million by the end of this period.

“Many European countries have already introduced the eID program as a way of accessing many institution services with only one eID card,” said Jean-Noel Georges, Global Program Director for ICT Smart Card practice at Frost & Sullivan. “The eID document has been much more than a simple identity proof and time-saver for contacting administration authorities. In Germany it might be used for paying taxes by providing an electronic signature while in Portugal, it gives access to civil records and birth certifications and enables a social security declaration.”

Russia is evolving the above strategy, entering the digital world for identity management. According to the official project website, Russian citizens will have the UEC in 2012. The card will be adopted around 1000 national and regional services along with about 10,000 commercial enterprises. It will be dual interface to allow contact and contactless access.

The Russian project will allow citizens to not only have access to institution services but also to prove identity and signature and have medical insurance and pension information. Moreover, the UEC will serve as a transportation access card for public transport, a standard credit card to pay utilities, tickets, fines etc., a healthcare card for registrations and prescriptions, and also as an education card.

“The UEC project in Russia is the first one in Europe including all these verticals,” added Georges. “Except for the fact that this is not yet an electronic vote card, UEC is the most interesting and full-scale project undertaken in Europe at the moment. Previously, only India with its Unique ID (UID) project was involved in such a complex program including biometrics features.”

“With most countries thinking of giving a unique ID number in support for each citizen, universal multi applications cards are fast becoming the reality,” summarised Georges. “It will soon become common to have to justify our identity for access, payment or as a digital signature through one simple card. In return, with a unique ID, the government will be able to track every citizen’s physical movement and digital activity on an everyday basis.”

The most important point for a successful eID demonstration is to have a solution that is compliant with all international standards. This will allow each citizen to use their eID card as a European card while reducing costs for massive deployment. Finally, to be able to address this market, smart cards players will need to form partnerships or have local offices in the targeted country. Without this interaction with local authority, no eID project will be truly implemented, said Georges.

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