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Germany will allow Galaxy S20 owners to use their phones as official ID later this year

Samsung logo at a press event booth
Samsung logo at a press event booth (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Galaxy S20 users will be able to use their phones as official ID in Germany later this year.
  • The change is part of an ongoing partnership between Samsung and the German government around digital IDs.
  • It's enabled via the embedded Secure Element (eSE) security chip found in the S20 series.

Imagine a future where your smartphone is your ID. That futuristic (or dystopian, depending on who you ask) vision is soon going to be a reality — in Germany, at least.

As Samsung announced (opens in new tab) this week, the company has partnered with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Bundesdruckerei (bdr), and Deutsche Telekom Security GmbH to allow its Galaxy S20 series to become the first smartphones capable of serving as official ID in the European nation.

All of that's thanks to the embedded Secure Elements (eSE) dedicated security chip found in the Galaxy S20 series, which Samsung claims is the highest level of encryption currently available. It looks like Germany, at least, is confident enough in Samsung's tech to allow the company's phones to be the first to participate in its national eID framework.

Additionally, Samsung's solution is also compatible with EU eIDAS Regulations, a set of rules mandated by the EU to allow citizens of EU nations to use their electronic IDs across borders. So, it's entirely possible that we may see broader adoption of the standard in other parts of Europe as well.

Signing up to the eID program in Germany should be as simple as tapping your Galaxy S20 (and future Samsung phones with the eSE chip) to your NFC-enabled physical ID and entering a pin. The information will then be sent to the German authorities for authentication, and if everything works, the eID will then be stored on your phone, available for use the next time you're pulled over, or want to open a bank account.

Samsung is, of course, not the only company pursuing this vision. Apple has been known to be tinkering with iPhones replacing driver's licenses and passports for at least two years now. Google, too, is working toward the same goal.

Android R will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 to store digital drivers licenses and other IDs

3 Comments
  • I'm sure that will go over like a lead balloon. I can be pretty certain US government and military agencies are NOT going to adopt that.
  • Doesnt it sound like one of the Johnny English movie scenes "Toshiba, Spying For You"
  • This is a horrible idea. I would never allow a private company to be the sole guardian of my government-issued ID. Secondly, one of the benefits of a physical card ID is to be able to identify people. Being subject to a dead battery or other shortcomings of mobile technology simply won't provide that necessary identification when needed. What if you are incapacitated or deceased and cannot enter the PIN? I am no expert, but did Germany think of these things, or do they simply don't care?