Rainer Knirsch


Digital identities: o2 Telefónica, Telekom and Vodafone in EU field-test

  • EU field-tests for digital identities to run until end of 2024
  • French-German led consortium POTENTIAL responsible for pilot projects
  • Digital identity activates mobile contract and securely unlocks SIM card
  • Mobile operators test in Germany, France, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Greece and Ukraine
EU field-tests for digital identities to run until end of 2024.

EU field-tests for digital identities to run until end of 2024. © Deutsche Telekom/GettyImages/metamorworks/Juanmonino/michalPuchala/Turac Novruzova; Montage: Evelyn Ebert Meneses

The Internet is to become safer for all EU citizens. Just like its digital applications. To this end, the European Union is driving forward the development of digital identities. They are the key to digitalization and further European integration. A major field trial has begun across the EU. The aim of the project is to further develop digital-ID functions and standardize them across the EU in order to provide citizens with a secure digital identity. Mobile operators o2 Telefónica, Telekom and Vodafone are partners of the EU in the trial. They will test identities when SIM cards are activated.

Whether shopping on the web or using citizen and healthcare services: There are various ways to identify oneself online. However, the methods used to date have been criticized because they are often insecure or costly. The EU has therefore adopted new technical framework conditions for secure digital identities. The basis for this is the eIDAS regulation adopted two weeks ago. The European Union is therefore now testing new ID wallets in large-scale field tests.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says: "Every time a website asks us to create a new digital identity or conveniently log in via a large platform, we actually have no idea what is happening with our data. This is why the Commission will soon propose a secure European digital identity. One that we trust, and that citizens everywhere in Europe can use to do everything from pay taxes to rent a bike. A technology with which we ourselves can control what data is used and how."

Valentina Daiber, Chief Officer Legal & Corporate Affairs and Member of the Management Board of o2 Telefónica says: "EU citizens appreciate the benefits and reliability of digital communication networks. Whether wallet, banking or mails – every day, many people go about their daily lives with their smartphone as a matter of course. It is therefore only logical to add another important facet to life in the digital cosmos with a smartphone-based digital identity. Among other things, digital identities speed up interaction between public authorities and citizens, making the smartphone an even more important companion for everyday life."

T-Systems CEO and member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom AG Adel Al-Saleh says: "Secure digital identities are a quantum leap for everything we do on the internet. Anyone who identifies themselves uniquely online creates trust. Almost all areas of life can benefit from this. At the same time, we are clearing our daily jungle of usernames and passwords. That's why we are involved in the European Union's field tests."

Michael Jungwirth, Director Public Policy & External Affairs and Member of the Executive Board at Vodafone Germany, says: "Digitalization must be secure and simple. And it must not stop at national borders. That also applies to the online ID function. A digital identity can only bring value when people actually use it. And they will do so when they can trust the application and it is made easy to use. This is what we are supporting with our participation in the EU project ‘POTENTIAL’. So that digitalization becomes accessible everywhere and for everyone. Whether at home, on vacation or on business trips.”

Field tests for mobile communications, driver’s licenses, bank accounts or e-prescriptions

The European consortium “POTENTIAL” is the largest of four consortia for the EU field tests. "POTENTIAL" is responsible for testing EU digital identity wallets in 19 countries on behalf of the EU. The consortium partners are testing digital identities for opening bank accounts, digital driver's licenses or renting a rental car. Testing for online citizen services and approved electronic signatures are ongoing.

EU mobile communications project with Ukraine

Among other things, the mobile operators want to show how mobile communications contracts and SIM cards can be activated easily and securely across countries with digital identities. They also want to further curb attempts at digital identity fraud. The new technology is intended to be sparing with customer data, in in accordance with DSVGO requirements. It should only use the data that is necessary for the respective application.

The mobile operators' tests are taking place in various European countries. In addition to Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Greece and the Netherlands are among the countries taking part. Ukraine is also taking part.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom Group profile

Technology and data platforms

Technology , data and platforms

Information about blockchain and quantum computing, digital identities, Cloud platforms and data spaces.