Electronic identification would help foreigners when starting to work or study in Finland. In addition, it would enable new kinds of services that will improve Finland's international competitiveness.
Nixu together with Suomen Tilaajavastuu and Digital Living International are launching a pilot program called the Sandbox of Trust in order to develop a solution for reliable digital on-boarding and identification of foreigners. With the help of the pilot program, both the public and private sector operators will be able to test cost-effectively in an open environment new digital identification technologies, that work even on mobile devices.
At the moment there is no digital solution to identify foreigners coming to work or study in Finland. For example, a tax number is mandatory, but it requires a visit to the tax office in-person. Students from countries outside of the EU may apply for a bank identification or mobile ID only after they have arrived in Finland and received their social security number from a local Finnish register office.
In addition, the digital services are not available to foreigners who haven’t applied for a personal identification number in Finland. For example, the owners of unlisted companies operating in Finland cannot trade electronically in their shares.
Reliable identification of foreign individuals would also enable other services that increase Finland's competitiveness, such as setting up a company from abroad. In Estonia, this is possible with the help of the e-Residency-program which is estimated to bring EUR 1.8 billion for the Estonian Government by 2025 through direct and indirect means.
The pilot program’s use-cases were selected based on new business opportunities.
"Partners joining in the pilot program have an opportunity to reach out to an immense pool of potential foreign customers, which has not been previously easily accessible due to the lack of reliable digital identification", says Joonatan Henriksson, Head of Digital Business at Nixu.
With the program, Suomen Tilaajavastuu wishes to enable smooth foreign workforce mobility and the use of qualification register and digital services in the construction industry.
"With reliable electronic identification, we enable faster productivity of foreign workers while enabling the transfer of employee-related qualification data between the construction operators", describes Sami Sinisalo Tilaajavastuu's Chief of Product Management.
The goal of Edunation, a company that brings international students to Finland, is to create an electronic process that is as simple as possible, and which could be used for the study application process and for students to arrange all the things related to immigration even before they arrive in Finland. In the long term, this also helps to improve the student's residence permit process.
"We cannot be the world's leading country in exporting education if we cannot provide student application services digitally. To enable this, we urgently need a solution for reliable electronic identification but as a startup company we do not have the capabilities to build it on our own", says Peter Vesterbacka, the Advisor for Edunation.
The importance of the program is acknowledged on many levels. For example the Technology Industries of Finland organization has been supporting the program from the beginning. Markku Örn, the Project Director at Technology Industries of Finland says, "Finland's competitiveness and the ecosystem of digital companies need a solution for digital identity and strong digital identification, but it is not cost-effective to build multiple separate solutions. Therefore we hope that both public and private sector service providers would participate actively in the pilot.”
In August 2018, begins the first six-month phase of the program for which we have applied for funding from Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Five partners were selected to the pilot, and will be the first ones to utilize the new identification services. Partners will get the source code deriving from the pilot program.
"For the upcoming autumn, we hope agile service providers, that face the challenge of reliable electronic identification of foreign customers, to join us in the pilot ", says Pirkka Frosti, Director of Digital Living International.
Joonatan Henriksson, Head of Digital Business, Nixu
joonatan.henriksson (at) nixu.com
Pirkka Frosti, Director, Digital Living International
pirkka.frosti (at) digitalliving.fi
Sami Sinisalo, Chief of Product Management, Suomen Tilaajavastuu
sami.sinisalo (at) tilaajavastuu.fi
Markku Örn, Project Director
markku.orn (at) teknologiateollisuus.fi