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Smart-ID: Advanced electronic identity goes mobile

In the Baltic states, the push to develop a new eID solution for online banking resulted in something far more powerful: an ultra-secure, mobile-based system for authentication and digital signing that requires no special SIM card. It can be adopted by any online service provider, is free for users and naturally, has caught on like wildfire.


Customer challenge

Banks hit an eID bottleneck

In 2016, tighter security regulations were forcing banks operating in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to rethink the way customers would log in and use services. The options available left much to be desired.


These banks had already been looking for ways to make their services more mobile, but the final shove came from the EU’s new PSD2 directive. It required that most commonly used method for online customer ID at the time, the code card, be phased out.

Alternatives already in use, such as the nationally-issued ID cards and bank-issued PIN calculators, demanded specialized card readers or expensive roll-outs. The one mobile solution in play, Mobile-ID, wasn’t widely popular as it required users to pick up a special SIM card and pay a fee.

In need of a mobile-based eID that was secure as well as effortless for customers, the banks asked SK ID Solutions, a pan-Baltic trust services provider, to commission a project. SK ID Solutions turned to Nortal.


Key player in Estonian eID infrastructure

Nortal has been an important partner in developing the eID system based on chip cards (ID cards), SIM based Mobile-ID and the mobile application Smart-ID that is not connected to a physical chip.

Over the past decade, we have helped to build and modify existing eID solutions and integrate them to provide services. We have contributed significantly to making eID a natural part of the e-government infrastructure. Nortal supports all aspects necessary for the successful implementation of electronic identity, whether this involves eID infrastructure, trust services, digital signatures, authentication solutions, establishing policy, supporting the legal environment or nationwide eGovernance.



eID made easy

Nortal’s contribution to the Smart-ID project was significant. Competencies we can use for other clients are extensive.

We employ the biggest and most experienced eID technology team in Estonia. Our team has vast experience in development of trust services and complete certificate authority solution. We have provided various signing and validation (incl. end user applications, local and service-based solutions for e-service providers) as well as authentication solutions (eIDAS node development, Mobile-ID service, ID-card).

Our know-how of legislation and requirements are extensive. In-house, we have the top experts of the EU’s eIDAS regulation that have in-depth understanding of requirements of panEuropean digital signatures and their authentication schemes. We are also very future-oriented, always being updated on the latest trends and future perspectives of electronic identification (such as using biometrics, online identity verification, cloud signing etc).


How Smart-ID works

  • A joint effort

    In its approach to this project, Nortal had to look beyond what was ordered and required by the banks. Smart-ID would have to be beneficial for the entire eID ecosystem, designed in such a way that it could fit anywhere.


Smart-ID launch marked a watershed moment for business in the Baltics

Thanks to its unmatched ease of adoption and use, the app was picked up at lightning speed, gaining over 1 million users in the region — more than one in six  residents — within its first 18 months. That number continues to climb.

The service went far beyond its initial goal of solving a practical problem for banks, quickly growing into a popular tool for authentication and digital signature throughout the private sector. Dozens of non-banking service providers, ranging from utility companies to pet stores, are now offering their customers the advantages of Smart-ID.

Smart-ID is eIDAS compliant QSCD (Qualified Signature Creation Device), it can be used to give electronic signature equal to handwritten signature anywhere in the EU. That’s an important consideration for SK ID Solutions, which is hoping to expand it to other European countries that need a next-generation answer to their eID needs.

The rise of secure, electronic identity in recent years has boosted the power of individuals and businesses to operate in the online realm. Now, thanks to the development of Smart-ID, that power can be put into the pocket of anyone with a smartphone.


SmartID statistics

  • SmartID statistics

    The launch of Smart-ID in February 2017 marked a watershed moment for business in the Baltics.

  • Kalevi Tammistu

    Account Manager and Lead System Analyst

    With more than 10 years in the ICT sector, Kalevi Tammistu knows that the successful implementation depends on the balanced and systematic development of four pillars: technology, value adding e-services, changing human behavior, and building inclusion.