EU unveils plan for a digital wallet to store your ID and important info

3 Jun 2021

Image: © Rymden/Stock.adobe.com

The EU digital wallet won’t be obligatory, but could provide a new way to present documents for proving your age or renting a car.

People across Europe could soon have a digital wallet that would allow them to prove their identity and share electronic documents with a just a tap on their phone.

That’s under a proposal made today (3 June) by the European Commission, which outlines a digital identity initiative that would be available to all EU citizens, residents and businesses.

Thierry Breton, internal market commissioner, said the bloc-wide digital wallet would offer a new way for people across Europe to store and use data for all sorts of services – “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”.

“Our European companies, large and small, will also benefit from this digital identity,” he added. “They will be able to offer a wide range of new services since the proposal offers a solution for secure and trusted identification services.”

There are many digital wallet apps out there, such as Apple Wallet or Google Pay, that allow users to store things like boarding passes or virtual payment cards.

Under the new proposal, EU citizens will be able to identify themselves digitally with a wallet app, where they can also store and manage proof of documents such as driving licences, education qualifications, medical prescriptions and bank details.

The idea is that this wallet could be used in cases such as opening a bank account, filing a tax return, proving your age or renting a car, while giving users control over what they share with third parties.

The wallet won’t be obligatory, but the Commission said it would be available to anyone who wants to use it.

The Commission will now work with member states and the private sector on the technical aspects of this initiative. It is aiming to establish a toolbox by September 2022, which would include the technical architecture, standards and guidelines for best practice.

Once this has been agreed, the digital wallet can be tested in pilot projects.

“The European digital identity will enable us to do in any member state as we do at home without any extra cost and fewer hurdles,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for a Europe fit for the digital age.

“Be that renting a flat or opening a bank account outside of our home country. And do this in a way that is secure and transparent. So that we will decide how much information we wish to share about ourselves, with whom and for what purpose.”

Sarah Harford is sub-editor of Silicon Republic

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