Guaranteeing the identity of a signatory to give legal value to electronic documents is at the heart of today's issues. The electronic signature has become an essential element in the digital transformation, but it is the identity of the signatory that will be the basis of digital trust.
Defining the value of an identity
Vomentally or unintentionally, everyone is leaving more and more traces of themselves on the internet, via social networks or through connected objects. These traces characterize us, they reflect who we are, reveal our way of life and reveal how others perceive us.
These sources of information allow anyone to get to know us better, or even to get to know us "too much" by often intruding into our intimacy. On the other hand, they do not allow us to certify "who" we are. Indeed, in the legal sense, identity is a regalian subject. The State is ultimately the guarantor of our identity, whether we are a natural or a legal person. The value of a digital identity is thus carried by the strength of the link between this regalian identity, materialized by our identity papers and its digital equivalent: the electronic certificate.
Regulatory constraints focused on identity control
Geopolitical events and the penetration of digital technology in our lives are increasing and increasing the impact of already existing risks such as money laundering, large-scale fraud, terrorism and massive identity theft. In response to this, new regulations have been imposed on economic players, some with the aim of strengthening controls: Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and others to protect consumers: the duty to advise and the European Data Protection Regulation.
For companies, these regulations result in a systematic and more thorough control of their customers' information, leading to a more complex relationship and significant costs. In particular, identity control is one of the most cumbersome and frequent steps; this step alone is worth billions of euros.
eIDAS, between the European example and economic opportunities
The eIDAS Regulation, in application since 1 July 2016, establishes a European framework for electronic identification and trust services. From now on, the rules defining digital identity are clear and recognised between the Member States of the European Union.
At the heart of this system are, of course, the public bodies, but also the Trusted Service Providers (TSPs) who are qualified to guarantee the quality of personal data and their processing. They also facilitate the deployment of digital identities while giving them legal value. PSCo's are ideally placed to offer economic operators trusted services that significantly reduce the cost of controls while simplifying and securing the digital relationship.
On this theme of Digital Confidence, Europe is well ahead of the other regions of the world. They are watching us closely and the eIDAS regulation will probably serve as a model for them. The chances are that eIDAS will become the standard, enabling European companies to comply with regulations around the world at a lower cost. This is a major advantage in a globalised market.
Trusted Service Providers, the "RegTech" that have been offering solutions for a long time
European PSCo's also have a great card to play to become world leaders in digital trust. Those of them who have been offering advanced electronic signature solutions (involving checking the signatory's identity document in order to issue a digital certificate) for several years have acquired a strong and rewarding experience. However few in number, they now have a considerable lead to conquer this new market, which is part of the "RegTech" movement.