EEMA’s 35th Annual Conference – Summary report
In June, more than 100 EEMA members, project partners, government bodies, consultancies and technology vendors, representing 19 countries, converged at Microsoft’s head office in London for EEMA’s 35th Annual Conference. The two-day event took place at a pivotal time in the formation of the digital single market. In less than 18 months it is planned that every EU citizen will be able to access a digital identity wallet on their smart devices.
It is proposed that these wallets will ultimately replace the physical credentials, currently needed to work, live, and travel within the EU. Speaking ahead of the conference, Chair of EEMA, Jon Shamah stated: “There is still much to be done from a technology and policy perspective if the September 2023 target is to be met and at our conference, we are bringing those who can affect positive progress, from across the public and private sector together.”
The conference opened with a keynote session chaired by Tolis Apladas, Program Manager, Electronic Identity & Digital Signing Service, European Commission, focusing on the needs of stakeholders involved in making wallets a success. Jon Shamah, Chair of EEMA commented that ease of use, accessibility and the acknowledgement that not every citizen is tech savvy, is paramount for success. This view was endorsed by Frank Leyman, Head of International Relations at BOSA. He explained that it is his job to offer user-centric and inclusive digital services that work for all citizens in Belgium. However, he also stressed that any solution that works within the country much also work for the rest of Europe. He added that if you don’t make something focused on the citizen then they won’t use it and success is only possible if all countries are working together.
The need for citizen engagement was again highlighted in the session in which conference delegates were introduced to GLASS. One of three EU-funded projects presented at the conference (alongside DE4A and LOCARD), it aims to put individuals at the heart of controlling their own relationship with governments and business by using digital wallets. Professor Bill Buchanan OBE, Director of the Centre for Distributed Computing, Networks and Security at Edinburgh Napier University (a GLASS Consortium Member) stressed the need to bridge the gap between human and digital trust and how that involved bringing citizens with us’. He emphasised the scale of this challenge with 27 countries, 24 languages and 447,706,209 citizens currently present in the European Union.
Providing an insight into three ongoing pilots that are improving access to digital goods and services, was DE4A (Digital Europe for All). Alberto Crespo, DE4A Pilots Coordinator and Head of Blockchain, Identity & Privacy Uni at Atos, chaired a session that demonstrated how the process of doing business, moving and studying abroad are being transformed in line with the EU’s drive towards the Digital Single Market.
The adoption of digital services must be accompanied by the appropriate legal framework. A panel debate, chaired by Igor Marcolongo, Head of Business Compliance, Innovation & Strategy at InfoCert, focused on proposed revisions to current eIDAS regulation (often referred to as eIDAS 2.0) which aims to give citizens more control of their identity, reduce friction and to foster interoperability. The final amendments to the regulation are due to come from European Parliament committees in October 2022.
As well as the need for citizens to ‘buy’ into the concept of digital wallets, it must be sustainable for everyone in the value chain. This observation was made by Mads Pedersen, Key Account Manager at BankID in Norway, in a session debating how existing identity schemes can create digital identity wallets for business and citizens of the future. Fabrizio Leoni at InfoCert, provided an insight into potential commercial models (whether centralised, federated, or decentralised). He stressed the possible market size for digital identity, a prediction from McKinsey & Company was shared that suggests it has the potential to create economic value equivalent to six percent of GDP in the emerging economies and three percent in mature economies by 2030.
The commercial challenge and opportunity were raised again by Joran Frik, Manager, Risk Advisory, Cyber Risk, Deloitte, Belgium who argued that an organisation wants to issue a credential and get paid for it, yet today there is no good mechanism to for making that happen.
With Steve Pannifer and Dave Birch bringing the event to a close with a high-level focus on decentralised identity, drawing on their expertise in payments and the banking sector, the first in-person EEMA Annual Conference since 2019 was heralded as a great success. High levels of attendance, interaction and participation were evident throughout all 13 sessions, as well as much networking and EEMA’s famous Bullards Gin reception.
Gin receptionAttending the conference was Arthur Leijtens of Bicore and FlightMap.com who commented: “EEMA touches topics at a very early stage. EEMA is five to ten years ahead of operational implementation. From an innovation point of view that is very interesting, because technology takes five to ten years to make it mature.” He added: “The strength of EEMA is that it keeps together people who are entrepreneurial in technology, conceptual thinkers and strategic on certain topics.”
You can check the photo gallery of the conference here.