The European Commission announced a digital identity wallet program on Thursday to allow Europeans to access public and private services via mobile phones, as the COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the need for user-friendly online services.

The move also aims to address privacy and data protection issues related to digital wallets provided by Apple, Alphabet’s Google, Thales, and financial institutions.

Digital wallets will allow Europeans to digitally identify themselves when accessing public and private services (such as accessing bank accounts, applying for loans, filing tax returns, and registering for universities).

Margrethe Vestager, EU technical director, said: “European digital identity will enable us to do things in any member state as if we were at home, without any additional costs and fewer obstacles.”

Thierry Breton, the head of EU industry, said: “EU citizens not only want a high level of security, but they also want convenience when dealing with national administrations, such as filing tax returns or enrolling. European universities with official identification.”

European Union documents claim that the use of e-wallets can bring up to 9.6 billion euros (approximately Rs. 84,930 crore) in revenue to the EU and create up to 27,000 jobs in five years, confirming Reuters’s June 1st.

The committee stated that by reducing emissions related to public services, e-wallets can also have a positive impact on the environment. Digital identity wallets are not mandatory for Europeans.

EU countries must develop the best practice technical architecture, standards and guidelines for the use of digital identity wallets by September 22.

Currently, 14 European Union countries have national electronic identity programs.

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