Estonia's Mobile-ID procurement fails

State's Information System Authority (RIA).
State's Information System Authority (RIA). Source: Nelli Pello/RIA

Estonia's procurement to find a provider to ensure the continuation of national Mobile-ID service has failed, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Information System Authority (RIA) said on Friday.

RIA has now begun work on a solution to ensure the national Mobile-ID service after the current contract expires in the middle of next year.

Margus Arm, deputy director general of RIA and the head of the procurement committee, said despite negotiations, it was not possible to agree on a contract with the Belgian company Belgian Mobile ID that filed the tender.

Among the reasons were not meeting expectations and exceeding the prescribed budget, RIA and PPA said in a statement.

The company only offered support for the service for the duration of the framework agreement, which was not in line with Estonia's wishes.

The tender submitted showed that the objectives of the procurement remained unclear to the participants.

"Our wish was to find a full-service provider to create a new national Mobile-ID solution for use in both public and private e-services. However, the tenderer did not foresee such a solution and focused only on public e-services," Arm said.

"While the tenderer did not exclude the provision of the service to the private sector, such as internet banks, that required further developments in e-services and negotiations with e-service owners. However, in this case, it is not possible to estimate the actual costs and the number of users," he added.

RIA is currently working with partners on a solution that would ensure the continuation of the Mobile-ID service. In parallel, a new national m-ID tool will be developed that would also adapt to the developments planned in European Union's e-identity in the future.

Margit Ratnik, the head of the identity and status bureau at the PPA, said although the contract with the current Mobile-ID service provider SK ID Solution AS will expire on June 30, 2022, nothing will change for users for the time being.

RIA and the PPA started preparations for a new Mobile-ID procurement in January 2020. The aim was to procure a new type of solution that is SIM card free and would continue to work on a mobile device. A procurement process was conducted, during which market opportunities and interests were first charted.

In September, two market participants --  SK ID Solutions AS and Belgian Mobile ID -- were invited to the final round of the procurement. Only the latter made a final tender offer.

What is Mobile-ID?

Mobile-ID allows people to use a mobile phone as a form of secure digital ID.

Like Estonia's ID-card, it can be used to access secure e-services and digitally sign documents but does not require a card reader.

The system is based on a special mobile SIM card, which the customer must request from a mobile phone operator.

Private keys are stored on the mobile SIM card along with a small application supporting the authentication and signature functions.

E-Estonia says Mobile-ID has a 19 percent coverage rate.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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