Linux Foundation Europe forms OpenWallet Foundation

The Linux Foundation Europe has now officially formed the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF). 

This collaborative effort is designed to develop open source software to support interoperability for a wide range of ‘wallet’ use case.

We now (of course) openly use the term wallet in this context to describe electronic technologies suited to applications including making payments, but also for proving identity, storing validated credentials (such as employment, education, financial standing and entitlements) to enable trust in the digital future. 

Inaugural premier members sponsoring the OWF include Accenture, Gen, Futurewei and Visa.

General members sponsoring the foundation include American Express, Deutsche Telekom / T-Systems, esatus AG, Fynbos, Hopae, IAMX, IDnow, IndyKite, Intesi Group, Ping Identity, SmartMedia Technologies (SMT), Spruce and Swisscom.

As TechTarget reminds us, “A digital wallet is an online payment tool or software application that serves as an electronic version of a physical wallet. Also known as an electronic wallet, e-wallet or mobile wallet, it enables users to securely store digital versions of payment methods — credit and debit cards, gift cards, cryptocurrency, boarding passes, event tickets, passwords and coupons — to use on the go with their smartphones or smartwatches.”

A customer can use a digital wallet to make purchases at stores, online or through digital wallet apps.  

Size of the market (and challenge)

Digital wallets are the world’s leading payment method for e-commerce and  point-of-sale retail. In 2021, the value of digital wallet transactions came to $15.9 trillion. 

The Linux Foundation Europe points out that although hundreds of digital wallets exist, they suffer from a host of problems, including vendor lock-in, no interoperability, questionable security and limited capabilities.

The OWF will not publish a wallet itself, nor offer credentials or create new standards. The organisation has said that, instead, its open source software engine aims to become the core that other companies leverage to develop their own digital wallets. 

EU Digital Identity Wallet

The wallets will seek feature parity with the best available wallets and interoperability with major cross-border projects such as the EU’s Digital Identity Wallet.

“Wallets are critical infrastructure for payments, for identity, and for secure access. Open source   – driven by collaboration among for-profits large and small, non-profits, and government leaders – is a great role model for infrastructure that is vital for digital societies and benefits everyone,” said Daniel Goldscheider, founder of the OpenWallet Foundation. “With open source at the core of wallets, like it is at the core of web browsers, anyone can build a digital wallet that works with others and gives consumers the freedom to maintain their identity and verifiable credentials and share relevant data when, where, and with whom they choose.”

Additionally to those firms noted about, 20 nonprofits and academic and government entities have joined the foundation including Customer Commons, Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), Digital Dollar Project, Digital Identity New Zealand (DINZ), Digital Identity and Data Sovereignty Association (DIDAS), DizmeID Foundation (DIZME), Hyperledger Foundation, Information Technologies ics and Telematics Institute / Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH/ITI), Johannes Kepler University Linz, ID2020, IDunion SCE, Mifos Initiative, MIT Connection Science, Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP), OpenID Foundation, Open Identity Exchange (OIX), Secure Identity Alliance (SIA), Universitat Rovira i Virgili, and the Trust Over IP Foundation (ToIP). 

Consequential & diverse members

With such a ‘consequential and diverse’ group of members (as the Linux Foundation Europe puts it), OWF underscores how important it is to have an open foundation to support a plurality of digital wallets to ensure consistency, interoperability, and portability while protecting consumer privacy.

“The world needs a place to store digital assets that matter, and the work of this foundation has the potential to redefine the credentials landscape globally, creating in turn much better digital experiences for people everywhere and new market opportunities,” said Gabriele Columbro, general manager of Linux Foundation Europe. 

The OWF is the second project hosted by Linux Foundation Europe. Project Sylva was added in November 2022 to create an open source telco cloud software framework. 


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