Evaluation SuisseID Project 2009-2015

In 2009, temporary funding was approved for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) projects in the scope of economic stabilisation measures, with the aim of creating ICT location advantages for Switzerland. The Federal Council and parliament identified a need for action with basic components that are essential for a modern business location. Measures ranged from the advancement of the digital signature to SuisseID as the standard of secure authorisation and signature in electronic business communication.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO was entrusted with implementing the SuisseID project. After completion of the project SECO ordered an independent evaluation from the Institute for Economic Studies Basel (IWSB). The aim of the evaluation was to identify new information about the decisions made and measures realised during the project term 2009-2015. The evaluation should highlight strengths and weaknesses of the chosen approach for future projects with a similar background.

The IWSB evaluation has three parts:

  • Implementation Analysis
  • Effect Analysis
  • Possible Solutions

The analysis of the implementation and effect helped to assess the various objectives, measures, and results of the SuisseID project; solutions and recommendations were then drawn. The most important insights are briefly summarised hereafter.

Implementation Analysis: The operational and technical objectives were largely met. All the technical specifications were realised within budget and a short time frame, and the product was placed on the market. The companies SwissSign AG, QuoVadis Trustlink Schweiz AG and Swisscom AG all created a SuisseID, while the Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication FOITT was responsible for the needs of the federal administration. This division of labour allowed promoting the technology without the Confederation having to take an entrepreneurial risk. From the beginning, the launch and promotion of the SuisseID by the federal government was a temporary measure. Since 2011, the association SuisseID has managed the SuisseID business. The Confederation did therefore not have to make a long-term commitment. However, the objective of having 300,000 people with a SuisseID by the end of 2010 was not met. At the end of 2010, there were roughly 190,000 SuisseID holders. It was only possible to circulate the other subsidised SuisseIDs at a later point.

Effect Analysis: SuisseID has not been able to be established until today, even though the project's objectives were largely met. For one, there were fewer users than expected, but also there were not enough applications. The main reason is the still unsolved problem of a double-sided market. On one side are the holders of a SuisseID, on the other the application providers for a SuisseID login or electronic signature. SuisseID providers act as intermediaries and should bring the two sides of the market together. Other factors that also hinder distribution are the application verification process complicated by to regulatory obstacles; costs; periodic renewal or federalism.

SuisseID has influenced the industry for electronic signatures and identity, even though it has not been established yet. More than one hundred software companies and public administration offices all over Switzerland have worked on SuisseID, thus substantially increasing the knowledge about certificate-based authentication and electronic signatures. This knowledge is essential and will be useful for the further advancement of electronic business transactions.

Possible solutions: These are addressed to the Confederation as well as the private sector.

  • Confederation: The number of SuisseID users may have been increased significantly if had been mandatory with any eGovernment service of the federal administration (e.g. for digital signature). Although the Confederation subsidised SuisseID, they rarely implemented it. Offering access to eGovernment solutions exclusively with SuisseID and digital signatures could increase their use.
  • Private sector: A possible solution could be the differentiation according to functionality and a pricing policy that charges the greatest benefiters with the costs incurred. According to the IWSB the market strategy should aim at building a sound foundation of frequent users. SuisseID remains a product of market orientated providers.

The organisation SuisseID has already appreciated the solutions put forward in IWSB's evaluation. They presented their plans for a new version of SuisseID in a press release on 4 October 2016 (see “Further information”).

Further information

Press Release of SuisseID, 4 October 2016

The umbrella organisation SuisseID presented the new SuisseID which will be put on the market in 2017. "There will be significant changes to the current SuisseID version. The new SuisseID will be easier to use, more mobile and user friendly. No installation or USB drive is needed, and it has a modular set-up so the user can obtain only what they really need. The new business plan is an interesting change. The new SuisseID will be free of charge for the users. Online service providers, companies and administrations will be charged with pay-per-use fees or a lump sum, so the future SuisseID will be paid by those who save a lot through its digitisation."

Last modification 16.12.2016

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