5 things you need to know about the future of digital identity in Europe

From opening a new bank account to purchasing a pair of socks online, your digital identity is the first thing organisations will ask for before you can proceed. But what if there was a way to verify your identity in seconds with an app that works anywhere in the EU? That’s where the EU Digital ID wallet steps in… 

In June 2021, the European Commission set up a new framework to enable a unified digital identification system across Europe. To comply with these regulations, improve digital privacy and interoperability, and give consumers more control over their data, a new approach to identity was needed. We call this Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), or a digital identity that’s owned exclusively by the user.

But why is SSI so critical, and what forces are driving the future of identity in Europe? Here are some key insights from my online session at Oktane22:

#1 When it comes to digital IDs, there is still a long way to go

At present, around 60% of Europeans within the Union can get and use digital national IDs for authentication and signing in public services. However, when trying to use these eIDs in other member countries, it quickly becomes more difficult, with only 14% of countries allowing for cross-border authentication.

#2 Europeans want control of their data, but borderless identity is essential

In the Okta Digital Identity survey, we found that 69% of consumers would like to take control of the data they share online. But the reality is that every time a consumer app or website asks for our identity data, we have no clue what happens to this information. Unfortunately, the introduction of eIDs issued by governments or similar bodies doesn't solve this problem. 

#3 Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) provides a viable solution

By providing a lifetime portable digital identity for any person, organisation, or thing that does not depend on any centralised authority, SSI provides a practical solution to these challenges.

As a central body won't govern and store it, SSI shifts identity and credential management from the client-server model of centralised and federated identity systems, which creates silos, to a peer-to-peer model. It also removes the need to store personal information entirely on a central database and gives individuals greater control over what information they share.

#4 Digital Wallets pave the way for more seamless user experiences

The way citizens in the European Union use and manage their digital identities and digital security could change significantly due to new EU regulations. Companies around the world will need to be ready for this, but for Europeans, the digital wallet could pave the way for a smoother digital life.

The European Digital Identity will be available to EU citizens, residents, and businesses who want to identify themselves or provide confirmation of certain personal information. It can be used for both online and offline public and private services across the EU. Every EU citizen and resident in the Union will be able to use a personal digital wallet and public services will accept the wallet from day one. 

#5 Identity is the foundation of Digital Wallets and eIDs.

Identity is at the very heart of eIDs and Digital Wallets, and the only way to achieve this is through interoperability and through common standards. Okta has always actively participated in various standardisation efforts including Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), which the EU eID implementation is built upon. By guaranteeing interoperability, this support for SAML solves the cross-border problem once fully implemented. 

How can Okta enable this paradigm shift at scale?

Okta can help organisations quickly tackle many of the concerns that exist around eIDs. Here are some key examples:

Safety and privacy

Owning a digital wallet comes with the risk of becoming a victim of digital hackers. This can result in the hackers gaining access to all your accounts as well as transaction history. The same risk applies if your phone goes missing and someone gains access to the lost phone.

At present, more than 15,000 global brands trust Okta to secure their digital interactions with employees and customers. We take pride in providing secure solutions that aid in being compliant with European Union privacy regulations such as GDPR.


With the help of Okta, merchants and organisations can quickly and seamlessly adopt this new paradigm shift, enabling integration and participation in the eID ecosystem. This would allow for more secure authentications and better quality of data, at the same time adhering to privacy regulations.  

Okta’s vision is to be neutral and part of our DNA. With the Okta Integration Network, we can offer over 7000+ integrations using open standards, and our support for standard bodies such as ISO and NIST helps simplify and accelerate adoption across the board.

For more insights on the future of identity in Europe, you can stream Anders Askåsen’s Oktane22 speaker session and others in full on our streaming hub here.