Editorial

Should ‘Trust’ Be A Utility Like Electricity?

An intriguing proposal from Sweden that we’ll be hearing more about at next week’s Think Digital Identity For Government 2020

Posted 10 February 2020 by

Verisec, a major Swedish player in Digital Identity and an exhibition partner for next week’s Think Digital Identity For Government 2020. We sat down with the company’s COO and Global Vice President of Sales Anders Henrikson to find out more.

Can you tell us a little about you and Verisec to start us off please, Mr Henrikson?

I have a few different roles in the company; I’m one of the founders of the company, but also head up sales globally for our four different business units, and as COO I pretty much oversee and lead those business areas and the relevant teams.

What is Verisec all about? How long have you been in operation?

We’ve been around since 2002 and we’ve always been in the IT security space, primarily Digital Identity: how do you make sure that someone is who they say they are online, that’s been the key focus area for us since we started. We have a number of different physical locations, but our HQ is in Stockholm.

In terms of our four business units, we have a Services operation managing the lifecycle of security hardware, such as hardware tokens, smart cards, readers and PIN mailers for customers glbally. Secondly we provide much of the security in the payments space for ATM and point of sales terminal networks. We have an Identity Management managed service offering called Freja for when banks or governments want to issue digital identities to their own users. Finally, we have an electronic identity cloud service, Freja eID, which is what I’ll be focusing on in London, as we sell trust with it; we vouch for the trust in a digital identity, so when we present the user to a bank or to a government agency or local authorities, then they implicitly trust us because we are certified to issue government eIDs in the countries where we operate – a trust service provider model, delivered as a cloud service.

Do you have subsidiaries in different countries, especially the UK, or do you operate in a different model?

We have sales satellite offices if you will and in different countries, and we have a sales office in the UK but our cloud service, which is basically what I’ll be talking about at Think Digital Identity, is hosted in Sweden.

Do you have a particular product set or site you’d like to make visible to the UK public sector? 

As I said, our Freja eID service which is government-approved in Sweden and which we’re seeking government approval for in the UK, is that the approval is primarily for that market. So when we issue an electronic identity that is the primary target audience for eID. In the UK, we have a large chunk of local government already – customers for the Freja UP product line – so we have about 30% of the local authority market here. But with Freja eID, we’re targeting both central government and local government so that it is a key vertical market for us in the UK.

This new service area is completely new in the UK; we’re just launching it now.

Thanks. What, ultimately, is it you’re trying to get across at the conference? What is your theme that you’ll want to talk to the audience about?

It’s that today when it’s with Digital Identity, everyone does it by themselves. Everyone issues digital identities on their own, and it’s very inefficient. There’s a lot of talk about shared services, but no one is actually doing it. 

But eID is, by definition, a shared service. If you can trust that service, then there’s a huge savings to be made, because everyone doesn’t have to check identities and issue credentials on their own. And then the next service provider has to do the same and the next one the same and so on. 

That’s basically what Sweden has done, and what we’re proposing for the UK market is everyone can trust one common infrastructure, just like we have a common infrastructure for electricity or for other utilities. One of the themes in my presentation is that I compare eID to a utility, so why not share that utility as you would electricity or cable.

Why would a utility identity help the citizen?

For the citizen, it’s very useful because today, on average, a citizen will have 60 to a hundred passwords to log into different sites, and they have to go to a lot of trouble just to prove their identity in the community to various customer service providers. But if you have one trusted eID, you can access all the services that you need without having to deal with all the complexity of passwords and proving your identity. You do it once and then you can log in a trusted way to many of their services.

Thanks for explaining all this to us so clearly, Anders, and we look forward to hearing about trust as a utility at the conference next week.

If you’d like to continue the debate with Verisec, please make sure to hear Anders speak on his theme of ‘Trust: The Next Utility?’ at Think Digital Identity For Government 2020, and also swing by their exhibition stand at the show, which is on Thursday next week (February 13th).

There are still a SMALL NUMBER of spaces left for tickets – please don’t risk not hearing the most up to date conversations in Digital ID by failing to secure a seat, so go here to register as soon as you can.