The Identity Wallet: No Reason for Cold Feet


An article in response to a Dutch news item on, where concerns are expressed about the plans for a European Identity wallet:

The European Union wants us all to get an Identity Wallet. A digital wallet with digital space for a digital driver’s license, a digital library card, or anything else digital that you usually keep in your physical wallet. There is quite a bit of skepticism about this European ambition. I will explain below why cold feet are not necessary.

The Identity Wallet is on your mobile phone, so it sits brotherly next to your physical wallet in your pocket. Therefore, it is not stored somewhere in a central system, as the article on suggests. After all, the Wallet must also work if you want to use it without Internet connectivity available.

It is a misconception that in order to use an Identity Wallet, we all need a European digital ID. The comparison with a normal wallet also applies here. Just as a Dutchman may have a Dutch driver’s license in his physical wallet and a Dutch digital driver’s license in his digital wallet, a German may have the German counterparts of these licenses.

The idea of ​​the Identity Wallet is that you make agreements on the characteristics of what you put in the Wallet. Compare it with the features of the different plastic cards in your physical wallet. In order to be able to distinguish the digital library card from the digital driver’s license, you must agree what makes such a card a library card or a driver’s license.

In addition, you need to have a method to determine who issued the digital driver’s license. For this purpose, a digital signature can be used, a trusted method that has already been arranged for in Europe (for enthusiasts; EIDAS). You then agree which digital signatures you trust and the digital driver’s license in your Wallet is a fact. By repeating this method for other ‘use cases’, you can start to fill and use your Identity Wallet.

To conclude, I would like to make one last comparison with the physical wallet. We used the term Identity Wallet above. You might think that we all use the same app for this Wallet, as if there is only one option. But even this is not the case. What needs to happen at a European level is that we make agreements on how an Identity Wallet communicates with the outside world. Each country can then create one or more Identity Wallets that can all coexist.

As you can see, little remains of the objections that are raised!

If you still have questions after reading this response, please do not hesitate to contact me or an AET colleague. It is our daily work to deal with the challenges of (digital) trust. We are happy to help.


Jan Rochat

Co-Founder & Innovation Lead


The Trust Company