The European Commission will on Thursday announce plans for a digital identity wallet to allow Europeans to access public and private services, prompted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen a massive surge in online services.
The move also seeks to counter the growing popularity of digital wallets offered by Apple (AAPL.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google, Thales (TCFP.PA) and financial institutions which critics say could pose privacy and data protection concerns.
The digital identity wallet “can be used anywhere in the EU to identify and authenticate for access to services in the public and private sectors, allowing citizens to control what data is communicated and how it is used”, according to a Commission document reviewed by Reuters.
The wallet will also enable qualified electronic signatures that can facilitate political participation, the 73-page document said.
The adoption of an electronic wallet could generate as much as 9.6 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in benefits for the EU and create as many as 27,000 jobs over a five-year period, the document said.
By reducing emissions related to public services, the e-wallet could also have a positive environmental impact, the document said.
Currently 14 EU countries have their own digital identity schemes, of which only 7 are mobile apps.