The State of the Electronic Identity Market

The European Commission’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) has published a report on ‘The State of the Electronic Identity Market: Technologies, Infrastructure, Services and Policies.’ I co-authored the report together with teams from IPTS and Consult Hyperion, with the objective of exploring where individuals’ identity data are converted into credentials for access to services.

The document concludes that the market for electronic ID is immature. It claims that the potentially great added value of eID technologies in enabling the Digital Economy has not yet been fulfilled, and fresh efforts are needed to build identification and authentication systems that people can live with, trust and use. The study finds that usability, minimum disclosure and portability, essential features of future systems, are at the margin of the market and cross-country, cross-sector eID systems for business and public service are only in their infancy.

This was a particularly tough document to write, since the scope of ID is potentially so large, yet there are so many confused and conflicting concepts, terminologies and delivery approaches. Qualitative data about the value of ID services is almost non-existent, and tends to focus principally upon enterprise identity management technologies. At the time we wrote the document, the UK was gripped by the inertia and non-delivery of the failing National Identity Service, and the impact of that is reflected in the document.

The report is available for free and can be downloaded here.