Home Startups North Macedonia is a pioneer in digital identity solution in the public sector

North Macedonia is a pioneer in digital identity solution in the public sector

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Macedonian citizens will soon be able to digitally obtain documents from public institutions, remotely open a new bank account or obtain a prepaid or postpaid mobile phone account. All this will be possible thanks to a new project implemented by the government of North Macedonia and the digital payments and services company Mastercard. The country is launching a pilot project that includes a range of solutions that will advance the country’s digital economy aspirations.

On February 7, the Ministers of Information Society, Administration and Finance, Damjan Mancevski and Nina Angelovska, signed a memorandum of understanding with Vanya Manova, Regional Director of Mastercard for Bulgaria, Macedonia North, Albania and Kosovo, which will allow Mastercard to establish a modern digital system. identity technology in the country. The service will be available later this year.

A better experience for citizens and businesses

Mastercard’s partnership with Macedonian authorities aims to bring local digital identity and associated services, such as digital signing and verification of documents, which can be used in a number of everyday activities. By opening an app on the mobile device, users can scan their ID card or passport. In this way, the data is checked and the camera of the mobile device turns on and checks if it is the same person. Everything happens in real time. “This means that you no longer need to use USB sticks, tokens, paper documents or have a physical presence for the institution to identify you,” explained Damjan Mancevski, Minister of Society of information and administration. “It is essential to propel our economy. But to realize our potential, everyone must establish a digital trust service foundation.

Finance Minister Nina Angelovska hopes that this partnership will provide a digital identity service that will improve citizens’ daily experience while increasing the efficiency of public and private services on the path to greater economic growth, noted the Minister of Finance, Nina Angelovska.

“As this solution is interoperable, it means that Macedonian citizens will be able to identify themselves (to digitally stamp different documents, also cross-border) with companies and governments, which are not only in North Macedonia,” explained Vanya Manova , country manager. for Mastercard Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. The pilot project in Macedonia is part of a wider initiative by digital services company MasterCard and similar projects are also underway in other countries. “We have the opportunity to create a digital innovation hub by introducing locally, regionally and globally accepted digital identity and trust services,” said Charles Walton, vice president of digital identity. from MasterCard.

One more step towards the EU

The effort, the first of its kind, will build on North Macedonia’s recently created digital identity regulations and the broader European eIDAS (electronic identification, authentication and trust services) standards. Once launched, it will also enable seamless digital interactions between businesses and government agencies in the region and around the world. “For North Macedonia, this is also an important step towards European integration, as this technology and service is aligned with all European regulations and will allow citizens to identify themselves before any authority from an EU country. This will also enable business transactions between North Macedonian and EU companies,” explains Professor George Dimitrov, digital identity expert and board member of technology company Evrotrust.

According to him, to make this possible in just over a year, North Macedonia adopted new regulations on digital identification and also managed to create a centralized e-government portal that allows one point of unique access to different registers and thus allows the implementation of such technology is possible.

At the same time, Bulgaria is slowly moving towards offering its citizens and businesses a wide range of public services online. The main difference, according to Professor George Dimitrov, is that in Macedonia the process has been accelerated thanks to political will and the Macedonian government has been open to private products and electronic identification systems, such as the one proposed by Mastercard.

Questions and answers

Trending topics: What are the benefits and challenges of implementing this project in North Macedonia?

Charles Walton: The big advantage is saving time, reducing paper and providing ways to interact at a lower cost. Challenges bring together stakeholders – governance, technology providers, banks, mobile network operators – collaboration is never easy. I think the government’s support here is a big step forward in reducing this challenge, they have the will and the courage to proceed down this path.

How does this project compare to successful and positive examples, such as the Estonian digital identity?

Charles Walton: In fact, I think it can achieve this potential and much more, in the sense that Mastercard is doing it locally, but as part of a global initiative. This can even exceed what is done in Estonia due to the fact that we are interoperable on a global scale. I think this is a great advantage for advancing the digital economy in North Macedonia.

Do you think the Western Balkan countries have the necessary capabilities to handle sensitive and personal information, as envisaged in the project?

Vanya Manova: We absolutely believe that the Western Balkans is the right region and that is why we are here. Even though North Macedonia is not the largest country in the region, we, as one of the largest international companies, are investing our time, money and technology here because we see the potential. We also see the willingness of the Government and the Central Bank to implement and introduce all these changes in the legislation, which protects customers the most.

Does Mastercard have similar partnerships and are you considering similar initiatives elsewhere in the Balkans?

Vanya Manova: This is the first partnership between Mastercard and a government in digital identity. I sincerely believe that it will be a wonderful showcase for all the other Balkan countries, but not only that. We will make this showcase accessible to the whole world, because it is very relevant everywhere.

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