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Gemalto seals digital identity card deal in Sweden

Swedish tax agency signs single supplier contract with digital security firm to provide physical and digital ID cards

Swedish tax agency Skatteverket has chosen digital security firm Gemalto to supply its digital identity cards.

As well as physical ID cards, the five-year deal includes an authentication platform for online services and an enrolment and card issuance system.

“We had Gemalto as a subcontractor [for the ID cards] between 2009 and 2013, but then the eID side was provided by another company,” Ingegerd Widell, business development officer at Skatteverket, told Computer Weekly. “Now they are supplying the whole package – the ID card and the eID.”

Skatteverket, which manages tax collection and the civil register of individuals in Sweden, has been issuing digital identity cards since 2009. Anyone with a Swedish personal identity number can apply for a card and use it as a proof of identity within the country and to access various public and private services online.

Gemalto won the public tender for the new ID cards in 2016 after the tax agency’s contract expired with previous supplier, Swedish telco Telia. As part of the deal, Skatteverket will deploy Gemalto’s enrolment kiosks and desktop stations at 27 of its offices nationwide. The kiosks are used to capture the card applicant’s photograph, fingerprints and electronic signature, which are then transmitted to Gemalto to issue the cards.

This data enables the card to be used with a smart card reader for secure authentication online and for signing electronic documents. In future, the card readers could be replaced with a mobile app, which is an option in Skatteverket’s contract with Gemalto, but this remains under review.

Skatteverket and Gemalto are finalising the implementation process and will begin supplying the new ID cards in the near future. Gemalto already supplies the national identity cards (which require citizenship) issued by Sweden’s police.

Read more about IT in Sweden’s public sector

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This is not Gemalto’s first deal with Nordic authorities. In 2016, it signed a contract with the Finnish police to supply e-passports and identity cards. 

Skatteverket’s ID card is only one of the digital identification tools used in Sweden – bank-issued BankID and its mobile version are the most common – but it has been steadily gaining popularity, with 190,000 cards supplied last year.

“People tend to have different electronic identifications – they can have this one on the ID card and an additional one on their smartphone,” said Widell.

The Swedish government plans to eventually move all communication between authorities and the public online, said Widell. The eID can already been used for public services ranging from accessing birth certificates to submitting tax returns. Swedish residents with an eID can also choose to receive their official documents and correspondence through a secure digital mailbox.

“We are really trying to get rid of all paper forms,” said Widell. “It will also make it easier for people. If they are at their summer house or on vacation and they have the eID, they can use [government] services wherever they are.”

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