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Bundesdruckerei plans to link NFC and electronic identity cards

The German security documents group is to work with the NFC Forum to harmonise eID and NFC standards so that mobile phones can enable electronic ID cards to be used as proof of identity for secure transactions on the internet.

ONLINE ID: Bundesdruckerei wants to use NFC phones as a bridge to proving identity on the web

ONLINE ID: Bundesdruckerei wants to use NFC phones as a bridge to proving identity on the web

Bundesdruckerei, the German security printer, has picked NFC as its technology of choice for enabling the use of electronic ID cards, such as the contactless smart card-based German national ID cards due to be introduced next year, as proof of identity documents on the web.

For an eID card to be used as a proof of identity on the internet, consumers need a device capable of reading and transmitting data from their electronic ID card and Bundesdruckerei thinks NFC phones are the way to achieve that:

Modern electronic ID cards, such as those scheduled for introduction in Germany in November 2010, can also be used as a proof of identity on the internet, thus making online transactions even more secure.

In addition to an internet connection users require a device capable of reading and transmitting the required data from an electronic ID card. Corresponding non-contact readers are to be available at low cost in the near future. However, an easy alternative would be to use one’s own mobile phone as a reading device.

In order for this to work a mobile phone must be NFC-compatible. A mobile phone needs to be equipped with the appropriate technical standard to be able to read data from an electronic ID card, which would then make it possible to conduct secure online transactions with proof of identity (so-called ‘eID applications’) from any location.

“We believe that use of an NFC-compatible mobile phone as a reading device would be an uncomplicated way of bridging the current gap between electronic IDs and secure internet transactions”, says Ulrich Hamann, CEO of Bundesdruckerei. Since mobile phones exist in nearly every household and are already widely accepted by users, Hamann added, buying a special reading device would then be unnecessary. “People will only use their electronic ID cards on the web if this is easy, safe and convenient.”

Bundesdruckerei has now joined the NFC Forum as an associate member with the aim of working towards harmonising the existing NFC Forum standards and eID standards, based on ISO 14443. “Bundesdruckerei’s aim is for every NFC-compatible mobile phone to be capable of reading digital documents, so that citizens can use their electronic ID for a variety of secure eID applications in an easy and uncomplicated way,” the company says.

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