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It’s Digital Education Stupid!

Sorry, “It’s the economy stupid” was a phrase coined by James Carville in 1992, when he was advising Bill Clinton in his successful run for the White House. In 1992, the US was experiencing an economic recession and the incumbent president, George HW Bush, was perceived as out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans. Its as basic as “Mom and Apple Pie!”

Let’s fast forward to 2023 and relocate to the anticipated “Digital Wallet World”.

I fear that the hoped for transition to Digital Wallets will not be as smooth as the transition to the cashless society. That happened fast and was driven ‘bottom up’ by people not wishing to touch cash due to COVID and then realising that it was actually a pretty painless way to pay and a cheap way to manage customer payments, even in corner-shops! It was really simple to use cash cards and safer than carrying lots of cash around. Over 40% of all debit card transactions in the UK, and around 8 out of 10 adults use contactless cards (according to UK Finance )

So how can get a similar transition to Digital Wallets? – Thus, the title of my blog……

With eIDAS1, education was really an afterthought. Even now if you ask the average EU citizen if they have heard of eIDAS, my guess is that at least 75% will have no idea who or what it is! Whereas eIDAS1 is primarily relevant to individuals and businesses that use or provide digital services across EU borders, such as e-commerce, banking, and public services, Digital Wallets can be of benefits to everyone.

So, we need to prepare a strong public education programme, and start very soon. So that public awareness and expectation coincide with the prospective deployment. One drives the other.

Like contactless payments we also need to shape the environment to make Digital Wallets appealing. So both users and the relying parties need to brought onboard.

I strongly suggest that the EU Commission and specifically DG-CNECT start action now. Educational vehicles, in the form of the Large Scale Pilots, can do just part of the job. They have not been allocated budget, and they are also focused on the EU’s vision of digital wallets, which is only part of the story. An EU wide organisation would need to be identified or created to start the education programs this year….

Should this be EU Commission driven or private sector? I believe if the EU has the vision and foresight, they could kick start the action and encourage other stakeholders.

As an independent foundation, and maybe with help, The Global Trust Foundation should lead the process!


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