Germany to begin rollout of open national digital identity service ‘later this year’

Samsung Galaxy S20 with German eID app
NATIONAL ID: Samsung users in Germany will be able to store their national ID on an eSE on their Galaxy S20 smartphones

German consumers with a Galaxy S20 mobile phone will be the first to be able to use a new government-backed service that allows citizens to securely store their national ID on an embedded secure element in their smartphone, Samsung has announced.

The smartphone maker is working with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Bundesdruckerei and Deutsche Telekom Security “to develop a hardware-based security architecture that allows citizens to securely store their National ID on their smartphone as an eID,” the company says.

“National electronic ID will be available on selected Samsung Galaxy smartphones when the eID solution becomes available later this year.”

“After downloading and installing the Mobile ID application distributed by Bundesdruckerei from Play Store, Galaxy S20 owners can tap their near field communications (NFC) enabled National ID card on the back of their phone to verify their identity and get started.

“Once verified, the mobile eID will be stored securely on the smartphone and can be used to open a bank account, use eGovernment services and more.”

Once enrolled, citizens’ identity data will be stored in an embedded secure element (eSE) on the user’s Galaxy S20, S20+ or S20 Ultra smartphone — “with other Samsung smartphones to follow”.

To support the creation of an open ecosystem, Samsung has also made available a software development kit (SDK) for its eSE.

“This will enable service providers and app developers to create applets for Trusted Service Manager (TSM) that can be loaded into the secure chipset-based platform,” Samsung says.

“As a result, applications and services will be able to work seamlessly with the eID programme and German citizens can enjoy them with peace of mind, knowing their information will be protected.”

“In addition to the identity card, almost every citizen in Germany owns a smartphone. Thanks to the Optimos project, and in cooperation with Samsung and Deutsche Telekom Security, we now have the chance to combine the high level of trust in the physical document with the user friendliness of the smartphone,” says Bundesdruckerei CEO Dr Stefan Hofschen.

“We are thus creating the basis to ensure sovereignty and trust in a world that is becoming increasingly ‘digital’ and ‘mobile’. In the future, digital sovereign identities and authorisations can be used and managed by citizens in a self-determined manner via the app provided by Bundesdruckerei for this purpose.”

“Our newly developed TSM system is used for the transport of the identities, data storage management and ultimately lifecycle management of each eID, which provides the basis for a multitude of other secure applications,” adds Deutsche Telekom Security CEO Thomas Fetten.

“This is only the beginning,” Samsung says. “Similar to contactless payments a few years ago, consumers will quickly realise the benefits of having key credentials including their driving licence, national health insurance cards, or even their car and apartment keys available on their mobile phone, securely stored at all times.

“Soon, they may also be able to remotely verify their identity to access and send confidential medical records, open a bank account, or vote using their smartphone.”