Finland’s government is to fund a public-private initiative to build a ‘self-governing identity trust network experimental environment’ for digital data and information exchanges in the country.
The Ministry of Finance is providing a €3m (about £2.6m) grant to the Findynet Cooperative during 2022–2024 to develop a trial setting in which both public- and private-sector actors can develop and deploy solutions that take advantage of verifiable data sharing, digital wallets and self-sovereign identities in the European Union (EU) member state.
The consortium, whose membership currently comprises one public sector organisation and eight companies, is looking to lay the foundation for the operation of a Finnish network of self-managed identities that would comply with and capitalise on the EU’s evolving cross-border legal framework for trusted digital identities – the eIDAS regulation (which stands for ’electronic identification, authentication and trust services’). The eIDAS regulation is currently being reviewed.
Verifiable data is not limited to financial transactions data – it could include, for example, certificates or qualifications issued to individuals (such as degree certificates and professional qualifications) or to companies and organisations (such as compliance certificates or authorisations to conduct regulated business).
The aim is to have a test network available later this year, with a pilot network available during the first half of 2024 and production-level capabilities ready by the end of 2024.
Digital investment ambition
The broader ambition of the public-private co-operation is to ‘strengthen Finland’s leading position in digitalisation and support the emergence of investments in new digital services,’ Findynet stated in a press release.
“We are very happy to have received this government grant, which allows us to continue our long-term work with public- and private-sector actors and build a trust network covering all of society,” Findynet Cooperative board chairman Markus Hautala said in the release.
Finland, which has a population of about 5.5 million people, has been an EU member state since 1995. The European Commission revealed plans for an EU-wide digital ID wallet – a pan-European ecosystem of interoperable wallets that the 450 million residents of the 27-nation bloc would be able to use to prove their identity and access services online – last year.
Reacting to the proposal at the time, the Findy Cooperative made reference to the Trust Over IP Foundation. Hosted by the California-headquartered Linux Foundation, the Trust Over IP Foundation was established in May 2020 and is seeking to define a ‘complete architecture for internet-scale digital trust that combines both cryptographic trust at the machine layer and human trust at the business, legal and social layers’.
‘Building on the Trust Over IP Foundation model for digital trust architecture, the Findy Cooperative has been working on a self-sovereign principle-based approach for verified data-sharing for more than two years,’ the Findy Cooperative stated. ‘Specifically, Findy Cooperative proposes to collaborate with the Finnish public authorities to ensure that the proposal made by the Commission can be implemented to its fullest potential in Finland. This requires systematic and determined public-private cooperation as well as joint vision to establish Finland as a leading member state driving the adoption of European digital identity.’
‘Common network’ better than ‘islands’
Findynet Cooperative’s public sector member organisation is the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). Its private-sector members are Finance Finland, Finnish Post, Nixu, Nordea, OP Financial Group, Technology Finland, Tietoevry and Vastuu Group.
Findy members have developed various concepts in recent years that rely on the existence of a self-sovereign identity (SSI) network. Examples include, in 2018, companies working with public authorities to jointly develop what was described as the ‘world’s first blockchain technology-based business network that enables establishing limited liability companies fully digitally’; and, in 2019, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) and TietoEVRY undertaking a proof-of-concept to develop a digital payment guarantee (‘smart money’) in the context of rehabilitative psychotherapy.
“We understood that the first-needed building block is the SSI network,” Hautala told Global Government Fintech this week. “It might be possible to launch some of those concepts with a limited-scale purpose-built SSI network. However, since all need the same capability, it will bring a lot synergies to launch a common national network instead of creating separate islands.”
The trust network being developed would be Finland-specific. However, Findy’s network has an eye on cross-border interoperability with other similar (national or cross-border) trust networks, especially in the context of the eIDAS review. This would means that credentials issued using Findy Network as underlying trust registry could be used in EU Digital Identity (EUDI) wallets and thus in cross-border interactions.
‘Digital Europe Programme’ proposals
The European Commission launched a ‘Digital Europe Programme’ (DEP) funding call for proposals – one component of which being to fund cross-border pilots of European wallet applications – in February.
Finnish government entities have applied to the Commission for funding to pilot European wallet applications as part of three different consortia.
In the ‘POTENTIAL’ consortium led by France and Germany, Finland’s main goal is to pilot a mobile driving licence (the responsible parties in Finland are the Ministry of Finance, Digital and Population Data Services Agency and traffic agency Traficom); in a Sweden-led ‘EU DI Wallet Consortium (EWC)’, with Finland focusing on companies’ digital identities and corporate wallets (on the Finnish side, the Ministry of Finance, Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and Tax Administration are involved); and in a Spanish-led ‘DC4EU’ consortium, Finland is focusing on piloting the utilisation of higher education diplomas in EU digital identity wallets (the responsible parties in Finland are the Ministry of Finance, Digital and Population Data Services Agency and the Finnish National Agency for Education – OPH). The Commission is due to publish funding decisions in December.
Findy Cooperative is itself taking part in the EWC Consortium in the role of an associated partner (meaning that it would not be funded by the Commission but may provide some capabilities to ensure the successful delivery of the piloted functionalities).
WEBINAR – TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2022 – REGISTER NOW
‘Government fintech adoption: what role for digital identity?’ – Global Government Fintech and our sister title Global Government Forum are organising a webinar on Tuesday 6 September 2022 (starting at 14:30 British Summer Time) featuring: Keyzom Ngodup Massally, Head of Digital Programmes, Chief Digital Office, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Pirthipal Singh, Executive Director, Digital Identity, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; & Kendrick Lee, Director, National Digital Identity, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Singapore. Public servants can register here for free to attend this webinar.
=>>> Global Government Fintech’s dedicated ‘ID Verification’ section <<<=
‘EU presents plan for bloc-wide digital ID wallet’ – our news story (9 June 2021) on the European Commission’s plans