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Finnish Government: a nationwide identity management solution from Ubisecure

The Finnish Government needed an identity management system to enable the strong identification of individuals and organisations for online Government services that scaled nationwide, and supported online power of attorney. Ubisecure provided the solution, now known throughout Finland as Katso.

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The Challenge

The Finnish Government is deeply committed to developing an advanced Information Society. The aim is to increase competitiveness and productivity, promote social and regional equality, and to improve citizens’ well-being and quality of life through effective use of information and communications technologies.

Part of the national initiative was to implement a standards-based identity management system to enable the strong identification of organisations in Government e-services such as tax and pension administration, municipal transactions and customs and excise. Unlike similar initiatives around the world, this project required the system to support “authorising someone to act on your behalf”. Such delegation of authority, or online power of attorney, needed to support both agents representing organisations (such as accountants), and agents representing estates (such as individuals representing deceased parties).

 

The Solution

The deployed identity management solution, named the Katso system, is built on the Ubisecure Identity Platform and is managed by the Population Register Centre.

As a representative of an organisation, users create a Katso ID online, manage organisation data, manage Sub-IDs and Authorisations. Organisation representatives and their staff, or any other authorised third-party, can then log in to over 100 government applications.

The Katso system has an enormous user base, as all Finnish companies need to have a Katso ID in order to use the online services provided by the Finnish government. Since initial deployment Katso has become one of the largest examples of digital identity management, authentication and attribute distribution solutions in the world. Katso has become the de-facto identity management solution used by all Finnish organisations to use Finnish online government services.

To understand the scale of the system, the population of Finland is 5.5 million (Nov 2018) and has 275,006 registered limited companies and 209,954 registered sole traders (July 2018).

 

The Benefits

The primary transformational driver for Katso is the reduction of visits people made to the Government operated physical point of service by moving the services online. It was estimated by the Board of Taxes that each point of service visit costs between 20 – 50 Euros. Online service transaction cost was estimated to be 10 – 50 Cents, meaning 99% reduction in cost equating to hundreds of millions of euros potential savings. Katso is the enabling platform for the online services. Katso ensures strong authentication of organisations and their representatives. Without proper authentication, the services cannot be made available online.

By digitalising government services:

  • The number of physical service points has decreased from over time to only 50 in 2018 [1]
  • The number of persons employed by the tax administration reduced 20% year on year since launch of the initial Katso system [2]
  • Visits to tax.fi service continue to increase year on year, for example 2016 increased by 7m over 2014 [3]

Conclusion

Katso is a standards-based identity management, authorisation and authentication solution for government organisations. Through Katso, government organisations in Finland have been able to reduce cost when conducting business with private sector organisations and individuals. Traditionally manual processes have been streamlined and brought online, eliminating significant personnel, support and branch office costs. Katso can satisfy a wide range of use cases for the organisations in the private sector.

Katso is a digitalisation success story. Using product components, the development of the whole infrastructure took only a few months from the starting date to the production date, and now over 444 000 organisations use Katso as their main identity solution when dealing with government institutions.

The Ubisecure Identity Platform can provide government organisations a tried and tested way to deploy identity management, authentication and authorisation infrastructure at the scale of a nationwide solution.

 

[1]List available at Finnish Tax office site: https://www.vero.fi/tietoa-verohallinnosta/yhteystiedot-ja-asiointi/verotoimistot/?showAll

[2] Chart available at https://annualreport2017.vero.fi/figures/staff-economy-and-customer-survey/

[3] Data available at http://finnish-tax-administration-annual-report-2016.tax.fi/

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Katso stats (2018):

  • 444,000 User IDs
  • 422,000 Organisations
  • 11+ million sign-in events
  • 99% reduction in cost by moving to online service vs physical point of service
  • 104 online Government services supported
Some of the online Government services using the Katso service include:

  • Tax Administration
  • Kela (Social Insurance / Benefits Institution)
  • The Finnish Centre for Pensions
  • Keva (Pension agency)
  • Customs
  • Ministry for foreign affairs of Finland
  • City of Helsinki
  • Police
  • The Unemployment Insurance Fund
  • Finnish forestcentrum
  • The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities
  • State Treasury
  • Ministry of Defence