The European Union (EU) is advancing plans to launch a post-pandemic bloc-wide digital wallet that will give people a seamless way to digitally access public and private services, Financial Times reported on Tuesday (June 1).
EU member states have been asking for a secure online method citizens could use to easily tap services. Detailed plans will be introduced on Wednesday (June 2).
The digital wallet is intended to be “simple, secure and it will protect people online,” a source told FT. “People will also have the power to decide how much information they give out while Google and others don’t let you decide what you’re giving away.”
Citizens of the 27 EU countries would be able to use the digital wallet to store passwords and log in to government services. The wallet also could be used to pay everyday bills, the sources told FT, but would not be mandatory.
The app would be accessed using a person’s fingerprints, retina, or another secure way, and would be a personal vault for the storage of personal documents such as a driver’s license. EU officials are planning a structural separation that would stop corporations from being able to gain access to anyone’s data and use it for marketing purposes.
“The new digital ID will give all Europeans the keys to their digital twin,” Thierry Breton, EU commissioner in charge of digital policy, said in a speech earlier this year, per FT.
Brussels is in talks with member states regarding technical and operational standards, and the wallet is anticipated to be accessible within a dozen or so months.
The planned digital wallet is part of an audit being conducted throughout the EU regarding the existing digital identification methods currently being used. The current system in place is being used by 19 of the 27 EU countries and isn’t necessarily compatible. Member states would control the implementation of the new system, per FT.
EU officials are hoping that the widespread use of digital tools brought about by the pandemic will help increase adoption of the new wallet.
As digital wallets become more widely used overall, cryptocurrencies’ place is also being considered. PayPal, for example, now lets users link their wallets to Coinbase to buy a range of cryptos.