Innovation | 23 March, 2018

The future of digital identification in Switzerland

Juan Carlos Franco Legal Department

“Log-in with Instagram”, “Log-in with Google+”. Have you ever stumbled upon one of these buttons? There are many ways to identify yourself on the internet: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon. You can’t do much without digital identification.

The Swiss Federal Council announced a legal project to create an electronic ID (e-ID) for its residents in order to harmonize current identification systems. The idea is to create a secure, reliable way to contract services, make payments or even vote with a single e-ID. To achieve this goal, the Swiss Federal Council is studying a solution, which would include the government as well as the private sector. The Federal Council wants to guarantee security by giving the state a central role. The state shall certify and monitor the e-ID system providers and they will only be allowed to define and verify official identities. In addition, data protection laws would be put in place, to ensure that online service providers only share the personal data of the users with their explicit consent.

The Federal Council is of the opinion that the private sector would be best suited to create a customer friendly e-ID. The Swiss Post, SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) and Swisscom – among other private entities – have already announced the creation of a new company in order to bring all of their know-how to the project. The goal is to create an electronic identification system, which would allow not only Swiss citizens but all residents to contract different services and buy products on the internet with a single ID. This would not only enhance security for both the client and supplier, but also define a market standard for the future.

Countries like Estonia and the Netherlands have already had their first experiences with electronic identification systems. The system proposed by the Swiss differentiates itself from others, by actively involving the private sector in order to find the most pragmatic and secure solution for the market.

In my opinion, the evolution of the digital market has progressed so fast during recent years that the Governments were clearly falling behind. The issue of an e-ID is the only logical consequence. Trust in electronic transactions would rise, since the counterparties would be clearly identified, and clients would no longer have to remember 4 different passwords for the accounts they currently use to make purchases, due to a lack of an individual e-ID.

This development is a sign that BBVA (Suiza) SA has set the right priorities when defining its strategy and the kind of service we want to offer.

The digitization of the Bank is quickly advancing, so that we hope to provide the most convenient service possible to our clients.

The creation of a standardized legal framework for a state-recognized e-ID system is expected for December 2018. The State Identity Service (SIS) interface is expected for 2019.