The threat of terrorist attacks and illegal immigration are pushing the use of electronic identity (e-ID) cards as a means to quickly validate the identity of citizens.
In spite of financial constraints governments across Europe are investing in new e-ID management technologies, such as contactless chips, biometric identification and public-key infrastructure, as they consider e-services a cost-effective way to help mitigate security concerns that affect nations all over the globe. Nonetheless, official e-ID deployment will take a while as the technology is still expensive and the market fragmented.
For international documents such as e-Passports, European countries must comply with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). National documents also need to correspond to global standards. As a result, some countries across Europe have started to issue documents similar to those available in other countries such as the European Citizen Card.
Even though these standards and regulations are expanding the market for e-ID cards, it is difficult for new entrants to penetrate this mature space. The lack of competition is generating conflicts and lobbying among the major players to win national projects. Elections, parliamentary discussions, and industry pressure all directly affect these projects, pushing up costs. The varying requirements of countries, based on particular security needs, services and distinct objectives, cause further delays and cost escalations to e-ID projects.