The Nordic countries have led the world in digital adoption and innovation for some time now. They often top most digital competitiveness rankings like the 2017 Digital Evolution Index.

The index places the Nordic countries in a leading position in terms of user trustworthiness of the digital environment, quality of user experience and consumer behaviours in the digital space. This digital edge percolates into other sectors of the economy and the Nordic countries therefore lead in areas like fintech, digital commerce and online service delivery.

Leading by Enabling

One of the most important prerequisites to create a truly digital economy is to provide businesses and users with the tools to effectively and safely transact in a digital environment. User identification and authentication is one of the first and perhaps one of the more important steps in digital service delivery. For financial services, it becomes even more critical with the need to ensure compliance with CDD (Customer Due Diligence) and KYC (Know Your Customer) norms and to build robust barriers against money laundering and other financial crimes.

The Nordic countries present an ideal case study for the type of Digital Single Market that the European Union would like to create across all its Member States. That is the main objective behind various EU initiatives like the eIDAS regulation and its supporting guidelines which are critical enablers for the creation of such a pan European Digital Single Market.

Letting the numbers do the talking

The biggest success perhaps in the Nordic countries though has been the high adoption rates. The following table illustrates just how widely are the national eID and eSignature schemes in used Denmark, Sweden and Norway:

 Country (eID Scheme)

Total users / Total population

Service usage per month

Denmark (NemID)

4.9 M / 5.7 M

i.e. the entire adult population

59 M - an average of 12 times per user per month

Sweden (BankID)

6.7 M / 10 M

i.e. 67% of total population

275 M - an average of 40 times per user per month

Norway (BankID)

3.7 M / 5.3 M

i.e. 70% of total population

42 M - an average of 11 times per user per month

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These figures are indicative of the trust that the consumers have placed on these schemes as well as the ability of these schemes to successfully deliver what is required of them. In a matter of years, these electronic IDs have become pivotal in the delivery of all manner of services – both through the private sectors as well as governmental agencies. eIDAS aims to replicate this success and even take it a few notches higher by allowing for cross border usage of electronic IDs as well.

In Part 2 of our series on the success of electronic IDs and eSignatures in the Nordic countries, we will look at them in somewhat greater detail and analyse what has made them so successful with such impressive adoption rates. Such an analysis will help us distill the key ingredients to the success of such schemes and gives us a window into the future of larger initiatives like eIDAS.

 

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References and Further Reading

Image: Viking Shadow, courtesy of Shannon Kringen, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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