Monaco Deploys a Digital Identity System

Since June 28, Monaco citizens and residents are able to have a digital identity. The Principality claims to be one of the most advanced countries. Yet, it provides services common to many countries so far.

From June 2021, new Monaco ID cards can be delivered with the possibility to use one’s identity online for legal procedures.

Announced on June 28, the 10,000 Monaco citizens and 30,000 residents of the Principality will be able to decline their identity via a smartphone or a computer. They can sign official documents electronically with the same legal validity as a handwritten signature. They can request a civil registration record or connect to their energy or telephone service providers.

To do so, the new ID card holders would need to use a card reader connected to the computer or download a mobile app managed by the Principality. A 5-digit PIN will be required for authentications on a computer, and a 6-digit password on mobile. The card may be within close distance to the phone if identity credentials need to meet the highest security protocol.

Digital ID cards don’t allow for an electronic vote but the microstate doesn’t reject this possibility in the future.

Digital identity is a way to safeguard a public realm while private companies like Facebook or Google, by managing loads of personal data, almost become substitutes of public authority for online identities.

Monaco claims to be one of the five most advanced countries in the world in terms of digital identity, along with Estonia or Singapore. Yet, Monaco’s digital identity only provides an e-authentication service and an easier border crossing so far, similar to what other countries in the region do.

Monaco officials presenting digital identity
Monegasque officials presenting the digital identity on June 28, 2021 | Monaco government

46 countries already offer authentication for digital public services

Estonia is indeed the most advanced country with 20 years of experience on the matter. Since 2014, Estonia provides e-Residency certificates for companies or entrepreneurs to register in the country without necessarily living there. But in 2020, 46 countries offered authentication for digital public services similar to Monaco’s.

In Italy, the national eID card with such a service has been in place since 2016. For a price of 23 euros, about 21 million Italian digital ID cards have been provided as of June 2021. Since 2009, all Belgians have an electronic ID card, which has then been updated with some fingerprints in 2020. In the European Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, adoption of eID cards is among the highest in the world.

However, few countries adopted a full government-supported service at scale for now, with an electronic voting system or the integration of the banking services for example. According to a report from McKinsey, trust in the service and the government are key factors of success. Recurrence of use and good user experience are other ones. If the digital identity is used only once or twice a year, a PIN or ID number becomes only another password to remember.

Digital identity needs increased with Covid-19

In fact, some countries have been struggling to increase the adoption of digital ID cards, such as in New Zealand or Japan. Monaco’s goal is to have two thirds of Monaco citizens and residents with the new system by the end of 2022, or about 25,000 people.

But the Covid-19 pandemic increased the needs to digital access systems in Monaco as well as in other countries.

In the UK for instance, about 35,000 people created a digital identity account every week before the virus outbreak. The number of accounts created every week more than doubled between March and May 2020, as people claimed government financial support.

In 2019, about 60% of the European Union population across 14 member States could use a national eID cross-border. The program “A Europe fit for the digital age” is part of the EU’s 2019-2024 strategy. In June 2021, the European Commission laid out a framework for a European Digital Identity, for 449 million people.

Extended Monaco“, Principality’s digital innovation program also started in 2019 as well. But the implementation for 40,000 people has been quicker.

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