certME digital identity. From usage, to security and sustainability

certME is the first blockchain identity solution compliant with the eIDAS Regulation, developed 100% in Romania by the certSIGN team, which allows users to perform digital enrollments with service providers and which connects a natural person with their electronic identity. The benefits are multiple for both individual users and service providers whose onboarding processes are greatly simplified. We can find out more about these, as well as about usage scenarios, personal data privacy and more from Augustin Jianu, Product Owner certME, invited to Radio Guerrilla in a special intervention.

What is certME?

When we talk about certME, we talk about digital identity, the solution consisting of a mobile application that users can use to enroll and authenticate to various service providers, where identity verification is required. In short, certME is the digital equivalent of the identity card in the physical world, a digital identity with a substantial level of assurance according to eIDAS Regulation no. 910/2014.

How does certME differ from other identification and enrollment methods available on the market?

“There are many differences and one of them would be the reusability of the data. That is, for example, if you do a KYC process with one service provider and then you have another service provider, you have to do another KYC process and so on. For seven service providers you have seven identity verifications. In the case of certME, you do a verification only once and then you use the results of that verification with any number of other service providers”, pointed out Augustin Jianu.

What would be some actual examples of using certME?

The certME solution can be used in various online processes such as contracting a loan, enrolling or identifying in relation to a state institution, in order to obtain a tax certificate or even a construction authorization – more complex usage scenarios than simple payment of an online fee.

As a specific example, at the current time the solution is implemented at the City Hall of the Municipality of Sibiu, the citizens going through the interaction with this institution a simple flow composed of the following steps: accessing the service portal of the city hall, selecting the “connect with certME” option, scanning the displayed QR code and entering their own account within the portal, from which they can access any service provided by the institution.

How can an individual or a company benefit from certME services?

For natural persons / end-users, the certME solution is free of charge and extremely easy to obtain, by simply downloading the application available in the App Store and Google Play, installing it and going through the video identification process, after which they become owners of a digital identity certME.

In the case of a company that wants to benefit from this solution, following a discussion with the certME representatives, integration instructions will be provided for its own service portal, thus being able to later authenticate and enroll customers with the help of certME.

Can we talk about sustainability in the case of such a virtual service?

YES! And two elements are distinguished through which certME contributes to the achievement of the companies’ sustainability objectives, namely video identification and reusability.

“First of all, we are talking about that video verification, people no longer have to go to a physical counter and this fact reduces the number of locations that a company must have open, reduces the customer’s travel from his/her home – or wherever he/shewould be – up to a physical office. And this, obviously, greatly reduces the carbon footprint. […] The second aspect is the one I mentioned earlier, namely reusability, the fact that you only do one identity verification once and then the results of that verification are used in several places, with several service providers. That basically means that the carbon footprint related to that video verification is divided by the number of customers who actually use the certME service,” explained Augustin Jianu.

More precisely, if we have ten companies, banks, town halls, etc. who use certME, they share the costs, efforts and carbon footprint among themselves. And the more companies, organizations or institutions are enrolled in this ecosystem, the more their carbon footprint decreases – an extremely important differentiator for certME compared to other video verification solutions on the market.

If the certME solution is free for end users, who covers the usage costs?

Companies that choose to integrate this service and use it for customer authentication and enrollment pay for each enrollment they benefit from. Specifically, when requesting the user’s data, the person sees in the certME application installed on their mobile device that institution/company X wants to access a series of personal data (e.g. name, surname, personal identification number) in order to create an account, the user accepts the request (or rejects it, if the activity was not initiated by him/her) and at the time of data transfer from the user to the institution/company, the latter pays the cost of the operation.

How does certME stand out in terms of security and privacy?

“We have a unique concept in Romania called self-sovereign identity – it sounds sophisticated, but what it really means […] is that the user is in control of his own data. So the identification data of the person is only in his mobile application, only on his mobile device and only he can say who can access his data, when, for what and what data. So as far as privacy is concerned, we have a product that is unlike anything on the market, the data is not in a centralized database somewhere, each user manages their own data,” our colleague emphasized.

Regarding security, in the case of certME, this is ensured by a private, non-exportable key, which cannot be copied, cloned or removed from the mobile device and which is inextricably linked to the person’s fingerprint or facial identification with depth perception.

Moreover, certME is based on a blockchain protocol that ensures the traceability of data access and data confidentiality, speaking here of a protocol patented at European level through the European Patent Office, a proprietary technology of certSIGN.

What are certME’s future plans?

Although the legal framework that regulates such solutions at the level of the European Union has existed since 2014, the market – especially at the level of our country – is still in its infancy. But our attention is directed to the European digital identity wallet in which users, beyond their identification data, can also store other elements such as a diploma, a bus ticket, a medical certificate, etc. Practically, anything that is currently issued in paper format, in the not too distant future will be able to be issued and used exclusively in digital format.

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