In our previous article on eID schemes in the Nordic countries, we looked at some of the data showcasing the remarkable adoption and engagement rates for such schemes. A robust electronic identification and signature mechanism provides the foundation over which digital service delivery platforms are built.

Digital identification schemes are nothing new. But in the Nordic countries they have clearly assumed an ubiquitous form and become indispensable tools of digital services. Their success serves as a case study for larger, pan-European eID schemes like eIDAS. But what is that makes the Nordic initiatives so successful?

One Stop Shop

Considering the situation in the financial industry, where onboarding a new customer can be a very laborious process for a bank and often the customer as well. ISA (Identity, Signature, Address) documents have to be collected, contracts have to be signed, due diligence has to be performed, the customer name has to be run against fraud databases and other blacklists, sanctioned country linkages have to be performed and so on. The process can take a long while and can be a significant cost centre for the bank and even cost them a few customers. In the UK for example, as many as 40% of the potential retail customers just give up somewhere along the process of opening a new account!

This is where schemes like Norway’s BankID shines. It allows potential customers to provide all the necessary information to the bank just by sharing their BankID (the national eID scheme). It also allows users to sign and enter into agreements without the need for signing any physical pieces of paper. And while the name BankID suggests an obvious link to financial services, the system can also be used for other services like insurance, age verification, student housing and so on. To be fair, other such schemes exist elsewhere. However, their utility is limited in what services you can avail using those schemes. Being a one stop shop for all your eID needs is clearly a plus.

Speedy delivery and service quality

Estimates suggest that using BankID reduced the time for processing university housing applications from 10-14 days to 1-3 days in Norway. Similar improvements have been seen across other services like opening a bank account, for example. After using the service, more and more people are now willing to transact digitally and even spend large amounts of money online. More than anything, it’s a testament to the trust that users have placed on the system based on their past experiences. The eIDAS initiative contains similar elements which enhance the overall user experience and allows customers to use the service in a manner that best suits their preferences.

Security

Most customers cite security as one of the biggest areas of concerns when transacting digitally. eID schemes in the Nordics have greatly addresses this concern with as many 75% of users in Norway indicating that they would be willing to pay for the service based on its convenience and sense of security. It’s not surprising then that security is one of the key elements of directives like eIDAS as well.

In the final Part 3 of our series on the success of electronic IDs and eSignatures in the Nordic countries, we look how the systems came into being with a unique collaborative approach between private and public entities. It’s a case study of how common interests led to sharing of resources and overall benefits for everyone involved.

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References and Further Reading


Image: tiny, grumpy soliders ..., courtesy of Kate Russel, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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