How digital identity can change daily life

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Before I tell you why this thought came to my mind, let me first introduce myself. My name is Nick Smaling and I am a strategic management consultant working at the Cyber and Privacy practice within Deloitte. As such, I am responsible for providing our Digital Identity services. We advise the public and private sectors on proposition development, market analysis, (growth) strategy and we help them build top-notch products and services. Aside from this role, I am proud to be a board member of IDnext, the European networking and knowledge platform for digital identity. In this role, I strive to disseminate knowledge and experience to support and facilitate innovative approaches in the world of the Digital identity.

It’s with great passion that I want to stimulate the use of digital identity. Why? Because I believe that digital contracting and electronic permit approval processes can simplify our daily lives and can optimize the way we conduct business and provide governmental services. To illustrate the difference digital identity can make, I want to compare the way a passport application works in the Netherlands to the same application in Dubai. As I told you, in the Netherlands we often have to go to our town hall to submit a passport application, which takes over a week to be processed. In Dubai, passports are delivered by a drone, and it takes less than 24 hours. This example shows that there is still a lot to do in the Netherlands and that we as a self-proclaimed innovative country could step it up when it comes to digital identity. 

Besides these societal benefits, I am also enlightened by digital identity, as it is a multidisciplinary field. Having to combine privacy, legal, technical expertise and business insight makes it an intellectually challenging topic. This increases the possibility to make it a success, because I firmly believe that if products are created from a single specialization, they are doomed to fail. You will get a technically superior product, but you might miss out on the business model or may have neglected the privacy impact.

As we look at the current market, we see, without being exhaustive, various initiatives such as BankID, Idensys, UETP and various point solutions. What the future will look like is a logical but interesting question, as it evokes more questions than answers: Will there be a winner, or will several solutions co-exist? Will identity live up to its promise and really be the digital key for all citizens? How will (commercial) data initiatives find their place in the ecosystem? In the years to come, the industry of digital identity will be shaped. A fascinating process to follow. As a strategic management consultant within Deloitte and as a board member of IDnext, I’m glad to be part of this evolution of the digital identity ecosystem. In the meantime, as a citizen, I can experience what the consequences are in daily life. Who knows how digital identity has changed the world when I need a new passport in five years’ time?

Nick Smaling

Managing consultant – Deloitte
Advisory Board Member IDnext association