Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem model


Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem is an essential part of any governments’ as well as multinational organizations’ digital strategy toward digitalized, secure, paperless, sustainable processes and cross-border, cross-organizational cooperation. The demand for digital signatures emerges every time there is a need to bind a decision or a transaction to a specific person or entity and ensure data integrity. The possibility to conduct all business and interactions in the digital realm has become more pressing as physical contact is limited.

Estonia has been named ‘the most advanced digital society in the world’ (by Wired magazine) – a title largely owed to its electronic identity and digital signature solutions. Nortal has the unique experience of being one of the key architects behind e-Estonia and a trusted long-time partner for the state in developing and implementing the digital signature and identity ecosystem in Estonia.

What is the Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem?

Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem is an easily adoptable user-centric framework of legal regulations and infrastructure that enables governments and organizations to conduct legally binding transactions anywhere, anytime on any device. Introducing the ecosystem to a government enables to carry out a substantial part of legally binding transactions through digital means and as a result stimulate the economy and the cooperation between the state, the citizens and businesses, and also boost efficiency and decrease expenditure.



  • Aligns with known regulations
  • Supports multiple service providers simultaneously
  • Prefers open source and standardized technology
  • Provides multi-token support
  • Prefers the mobile solution


  • Easier to adopt with jurisdictions following similar regulations
  • No vendor lock, resilience against system disruptions
  • Easier to find expertise and cooperate with multiple partners globally
  • More flexible and reliable thanks to alternatives
  • First-class user experience and fast adoption

For a solution that is legally binding, enforceable and establishes trust in all parties involved, governments should opt to building their own Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem using the interchangeable building blocks described below. 


Digital Signature and Identity Ecosystem building blocks

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Legal framework

Fundamental for regulating and thus operating all the building blocks of the ecosystem. Taking the most comprehensive regulatory framework as a basis (e.g. eIDAS being the industry standard in the EU) is advised.

02 / 05

Identification service provider

Enrolling digital identities into the ecosystem. This can be done in minutes using an online identity verification service. Various services are offered in the market and can be used simultaneously.

03 / 05

Identity token

Holds the cryptographical keys used for identifying the entity and creating the digital signatures. Either a smart card, SIM card, or a mobile application solution (e.g., Smart-ID) can be used at the same time for safeguard and that way provides flexibility for different use-cases.

04 / 05

Certification Authority

A trusted organization that validates a person’s identity and forms a connection with their token by issuing a certificate. Multiple Certification Authorities are available in the market and can be used simultaneously. The legal framework regulates operation of the Certification.

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Software for digital signing and validation

Allows seamless integration to existing business flows to enable process optimization and digitalization through simple and user-friendly applications and/or interfaces. Many of the current software and tools have been tested and proven in Estonia and the EU, creating a decades-long track record. They are ready for use, free, and customizable for your specific needs.


Digital signing process


John and Joe both sign a document using their tokens and send it to Jane. Jane uses the Certification Authority to confirm John’s and Joe’s signature validity. Digital signatures and authentication can be integrated seamlessly into work processes to become an intrinsic practice.




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Interested to hear more? Get in touch!

Kalevi Tammistu

Kalevi Tammistu

eID Account Manager

With more than 15 years in the industry, Kalevi Tammistu knows that the successful implementation depends on the balanced and systematic development of four pillars: legal regulation, technological infrastructure, value adding e-services and changing human behavior.

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