eIDAS – "We make use of the opportunities offered by the digital internal market"
Find out about the advantages eIDAS can offer your company.
CEOs sign contracts with their electronic signatures. Online loans and direct debit mandates are issued electronically throughout Europe. Exchanges between citizens, businesses and public authorities are fully digital across the EU, for instance, when it comes to public calls for tenders or powers of attorney. Sounds good, doesn't it? But just how realistic are these future scenarios? Very realistic according to Andreas Vollmert from Bundesdruckerei GmbH, referring to the European Union's eIDAS Regulation. He foresees a disruptive transformation of electronic business and is calling on German companies to make the most of these European opportunities.
Why is the eIDAS Regulation so important?
The eIDAS Regulation lays the foundation for the digital internal market. It provides the legal and organisational framework for trusted electronic business throughout the entire European Union.
What are the goals of eIDAS?
When it comes to electronic identification, eIDAS relies on mutual recognition of different national eID systems. These eID systems allow users all over Europe to prove their identity on the Internet. In addition, the eIDAS Regulation creates new momentum for electronic communications with signatures, seals and time stamps. This was achieved by simplifying existing methods, establishing new tools and creating the preconditions needed for a standard security level for all of Europe.
Up to now, it has not been possible to firmly establish electronic signatures. The previous EU Signature Regulation also failed to achieve its widespread use throughout Europe. How does eIDAS want to change that?
The new Regulation makes it easier to use electronic signatures, for instance, by simplifying the signature process, so that it can now be triggered using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. This means that signature cards or special signature software are no longer needed. The secret signature key is stored on the high-security systems of a service provider. What's important for widespread use in Europe is that signatures that meet the highest security level and were issued in one Member State in compliance with eIDAS requirements must be recognised in all of the other Member States.
Are there other interesting new aspects?
The new electronic seal closes a gap in electronic communications. It ensures the origin and integrity of electronic documents and proves that they come from a specific legal entity. Unlike the electronic signature, the seal is not linked to a single person but to an organisation.
Electronic identification, signatures and seal. It sounds as if eIDAS is something for public authorities rather than for private business?
That is a huge mistake. The eIDAS Regulation has the potential to trigger a disruptive (yet positive) transformation of electronic business. The advantages and benefits of the eIDAS Regulation will be felt in all sectors and added value processes.
Can you give us one example of this?
eIDAS makes digital contract management easier than ever before. Using electronic signatures and seals, all process steps can be carried out digitally and proven, from the first offer right through to the final awarding of the contract. Banks and insurance companies can grant online loans without changing media. This begins with electronic proof of identity, includes the digital signature on the contract and ends with the final loan certificate (see diagram). Companies working in Internet sales will also benefit considerably from eIDAS. Especially those companies who want to step up their sales in other EU countries and where the value of the goods sold means that secure customer identification is necessary. What's important here is that all of the examples listed above apply to the whole of the EU with 400 million potential users.
Where can users obtain eIDAS-complaint trust services?
From trusted and competent service providers. With D-TRUST, Bundesdruckerei is one of the few companies with its own qualified trust service provider based in Germany. The products on offer, such as the electronic signature, already meet with the requirements of the eIDAS Regulation. And new solutions, such as the remote signature and electronic seal, are soon to be made available.
What would you advise German companies to do, wait a bit or to get started straight away?
Time is of the essence! Beginning July 2016, trust services can already be offered throughout the EU. Companies now need to think about which work processes they can optimise using these new options and even consider new business models. After all, one thing is certain, our European competitors are wide awake and companies that miss out on the new opportunities of digitisation will run the risk of falling behind or even disappearing from the market entirely.