The state is looking for a new mobile identification provider via a tender, and, although the mobile ID will not disappear for the time being, it will probably not continue as a national solution in the new year. The state hopes to find a new service that is not SIM-card-based.
Mobile ID and Smart-ID creator SK ID Solutions and the Belgian company Belgian Mobile ID are to estimate the procurement.
Initially, the state had to introduce its new mobile electronic identity service from January next year, but the public procurement process has taken longer than originally planned, and tenders are expected to be reached during the second half of September.
"The new solution should be operational from July 1 next year," Margus Arm, deputy director general of the State Information System Agency (RIA), told ERR.
Ten years ago, SK ID Solutions, a joint venture between Swedbank, SEB Pank and Telia Eesti, won the tender and has managed the mobile ID service ever since.
There are currently more than 225,000 Mobile-ID users in Estonia, though another popular Smart-ID solution, from the same company, which has 580,000 users in Estonia, has proved to be more popular.
Mobile ID requires a special SIM card to be inserted into a smartphone, Smart-ID does not.
"If we look at what the procurement was 11 years ago, we went there to get a very specific solution, technology. Now we were looking for a new solution that would allow a mobile device to identify a person and provide a digital signature," Arm said.
Next to the current solutions, Mobile ID, Smart-ID and ID-card, there will probably be a new and state-supported solution. The main content remains the same in the new solution - you can also authenticate yourself, log in to services and provide a digital signature.
Liisa Lukin, a Member of the Management Board of SK ID Solutions, said that the company plans to continue with two functional solutions in the future. The state will also continue to support mobile ID for another five years after the contract expires, i.e. service users will not have to fear its loss in the near future.
"We will probably continue to offer it, but the state is no longer involved in this process. At the moment, we are of the opinion that we will continue to issue Mobile-ID with operators," Lukin said.
SK ID solutions offers its mobile ID service also in Lithuania, though there it is not a state solution.
"Today, there are 600,000 Smart-ID users in Estonia. Mobile-ID, which has been on the market for 10 years, has 225,000 users," Lukin described, pointing out that the inconvenience of the service and the fee for the consumer are the factors that have grown Smart-IDs popularity. At the same time, Smart-ID is more expensive for an e-service provider who wants to use it in their service for personal authentication.
Procurement could attract private companies to offer new solutions to the state
The Belgian company Belgian Mobile ID, which, like the Estonian company, is a consortium of banks and telecoms firms, is also participating in the new procurement.
There is only one thing that distinguishes a state-guaranteed ID card from the others - it can be used to vote in elections.
"It's always a question of how many of these solutions there should be on the market. So far, there have been three: mobile ID, ID card and Smart-ID. Two of the three have been issued by the state. We have defined as a state that the state will provide at least one additional solution. Thus, we would like to offer our citizens at least two solutions based on different technologies, and if something happens to one, the other can be used," Arm said.
Arm said that one of the prerequisites for the new tender is that the service should be free of having to use a SIM card.
"The current solution still relies a lot on the SIM card, it could be said that this solution is not directly suitable for the procurement," he said. Arm confirmed that the Smart-ID solution does not contradict the terms of the procurement.
Lukin said that it should be considered whether the introduction of a fourth mobile solution with working solutions can be considered reasonable. "If there is enough coverage in the market, we may be able to find some other form to have players in the market," he said.
Arm noted that another option would be for the state to develop a new solution itself.
"Companies could come out with new solutions and the state will adopt them. The previous technology was acquired 10 years ago, at some time it is important to see what's happening in the market and whether there are more modern, newer, second technology solutions. Who knows, in 10 years it will be face recognition, voice, fingerprint or something else," he said.
Whether the new service is free of charge for the user is open in the procurement, which means that it depends on the specific offer.
Editor: Roberta Vaino