Image | Denis Dervisevic

Just a few years ago, or more specifically, before the Internet became a part of everyday life, the identification we used was relatively simple. Over the course of time and with the evolution of new technologies, our identity has become increasingly digital. We still have a variety of cards in our wallets, such as an ID, driving license, health card, credit cards and even one for our gym membership. However, we also now have a digital life that exists alongside the physical world and we use passwords to check our bank details, make online transfers, login in to our social networks, access email accounts and even make arrangements with public services. Our digital life is not visible on plastic cards and neither is it stored in a wallet.

So how do we demonstrate that we are the same person in real life as we are in the digital world?  What is the common element between these two lives in our daily experience? The mobile phone. For many of us, our alter ego has become a personal item that we carry around with us and one of its main functions apart from communicating is to make life easier. The majority of people see it as an almost indispensable tool and it is a physical expression of digital identity.

Today, there are already a vast number of services that you can access online, first through PCs and increasingly through mobile phones. However, each of these services has a specific way of working, often long and confusing … so a simple and secure form of online identification and validation would be useful to access quickly and without much problems systems such as:

  • Online and mobile banking: to manage accounts without fear of data or money theft.
  • Health: often requires even greater privacy features than in banking, which has been a major obstacle to the creation of mobile health services, such as access to medical records, immunization records, monitoring of chronic diseases, etc.
  • Transport: people already use phones for their plane or train tickets, or to pay for taxis, but with stronger security systems one could also use their phone for the entire ticketing process.
  • Negotiations with the government: can you imagine being able to use the phone to validate your identity in when paying your taxes, renewing your driver’s license, or to pay a fine?
  • Retail: this sector could also see big advantages in adopting mobile identities, facilitating the purchasing process.

Barcelona Smart City


Image | Smart City

One of the first cities to incorporate this system of digital identity is Barcelona. Under the name Mobile Digital ID, the app makes it easy for locals to link up their digital identity and access all the services the City Council has made available, such as enquiries relating to the municipal register, vehicle taxes or towing. Carlos Grau, CEO of the company biid stated, “We seek to revolutionize the mobility industry by anticipating and deploying advanced solutions to make the world of electronic transactions from mobile devices safer.”

Barcelona has become a benchmark for the Smart City. It has spent many years working to provide safe access to new advanced services from mobile devices. Oscar Pallarols, director of Mobile World Capital’s Smart Living, noted that this type of service improves people’s digital identities by, “making life easier for citizens and giving them access to eGovernment services that are secure, accessible and reliable”

While people still keep their ID cards in their pockets, it is gradually moving from the wallet to the mobile phone.