Andrus Ansip plans to turn everyone's mobile phone into a digital ID card

Barcelona: EU's digital single market chief says advances in mobile technology will see smartphones being used to verify our digital identities.

By Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is Managing Editor of The Parliament Magazine

24 Feb 2016

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week, Ansip, the European Commission's Vice President in charge of the digital single market, said there were few areas where mobile technologies hadn’t transformed the way "we live and work, travel and shop".

The "explosive growth" of smartphones, he said, had made connected mobile technology the "fastest adopted technology in history", adding that "people continue to want more. The demand is not slowing down".

The Estonian Commissioner said that the demand for more coverage, apps and services, longer battery life and faster data speeds demonstrated, "the high degree of comfort people have with using mobile devices, downloading on the move and handling an amazing range of apps."


"Using a mobile device to execute tasks and make decisions is now the norm. People want to pay their taxes, claim expenses, buy goods and services, manage their bank accounts - all online."

However, consumers are also demanding safe and secure ways of authenticating their online identity and Ansip said that many people today have the same smartphone for work and personal use, so their "personal data has to be protected as much as possible," therefore, "reinforcing trust and confidence in handling data" was a fundamental part of the EU's drive to develop a digital single market.

"Without trust from consumers, mobile will not live up to its full potential. Without trusted digital identities, the digital economy cannot work effectively," he warned.

But, he said, progress on delivering smartphone ID applications such as eSignatures or biometric fingerprint scanning was too slow and he called on the vast resources of the mobile technology industry, attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, to do more to help.

"With an area like eSignatures, the mobile industry could innovate a great deal as secure biometric capabilities improve and evolve. I would like to see faster uptake of digital identities, signatures and trust services. Mobile can help us to achieve that"