An interview with Ulrich Walter, De La Rue. 

Silicon Trust is delighted to welcome UK-based ID solution provider De La Rue as a new member. With over 3,500 employees and 10 manufacturing sites globally, De La Rue is the world’s largest commercial manufacturer of passports. Established over 200 years ago, the company has been driving innovation in the ID sector since the production of its first passport in 1915. The VAULT caught up with Product Managing Director Ulrich Walter, to get an insight into the company and its philosophy.

Mr. Walter, what role does identity play for today’s society?

Identity is one of the most important rights in the modern world. It provides protection, peace of mind and freedom for citizens and their governments. It is enshrined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – that every person should have a legal identity by 2030. For every individual, identity is a validation of who he or she is. But it also secures that person’s rights, ensures their entitlement and access to social insurance benefits and public services and allows them to travel. Still, over a million children a week are born without getting a birth certificate. Fixing issues like this are critical to everyone in society

What does identity mean for the citizen?

In the modern world, our identity needs are many and complex. With an effective identity management system, a single citizen identity can be used across multiple applications, in order to provide an individual with entitlement and access to rights and benefits in their own country and across the globe. They also help to facilitate travel and enable inclusion in many civil and government programmes.

Furthermore, an “e-identity” provides citizens with a digital identity, which is the core for online identification solutions in order to use governmental and commercial services – an ever growing important aspect of today’s ID world.

A solid, secure identity management system not only provides citizens with more entitlement and more freedom, it also protects them. With the increase of cyber threats, citizens and governments are becoming acutely aware of the need for identities to be secure – across both physical and digital representations. We have spent over 200 years preventing counterfeit – it is in our DNA to stay one step ahead of people who attempt to create fraudulent documents.

How can technology enable a sustainable platform for secure identities?

We believe that flexible identity systems allow for effective governance and a healthy, stable society. Authorities can keep an accurate count of the population, understand who those citizens are and what they’re entitled to. This enables governments to plan and provide for social benefits, education, healthcare and policing, and to effectively allocate their country’s resources. Today there is a strong shift towards ‘digital identity’, which provides appropriate access to unique credentials from a single foundation. In addition, a range of highly protected documents can be issued, and a citizen’s identity can be managed in a secure, adaptable way. But central to any successful identity management system is a secure and accurate data management system.

How important are developments in the travel industry?

The landscape of international travel has changed dramatically in recent years, due to the ever-expanding global population, increased travel, economic growth and a rise in personal income. Effective identity management facilitates the secure passage of citizens around the world, but also guards against potential abuses. Terrorist activity brings with it a threat to identity, including the risk of terrorists travelling illegally under a false name. Economic, political and social problems have also led to an increase in illegal immigration and trafficking. De La Rue believes, that these threats can only be tackled by making borders more secure and by keeping the management and protection of citizens’ identities at the fore.

There is a lot of talk about digital IDs and mobile platforms. Do secure documents still play a role in identity management?

These are fantastic innovations, and are increasing consumer choice and flexibility. Central to any solution will always be the joint issues of security and durability. Despite the innovations we are seeing, the identity document is still central to managing citizen identity. Being compliant and up-to-date with the latest identity security measures provides nations with credibility and legitimacy on the international stage. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has set compliance deadlines to ensure global standardisation and interoperability of travel documents at borders. Furthermore, free entry to countries is further facilitated by regional agreements in areas such as the European Union and the East Africa Community. Finally we should not neglect the requirement for offline identification, e.g. at remote border posts, at street-side police controls or simply the need to place a stamp in a passport when crossing borders, despite all e-visa and other related initiatives.

How is De La Rue positioning itself in the identity segment?

De La Rue positions itself as a global specialist in complete, integrated, end-to-end identity management solutions. We draw on our extensive experience and expertise in this field, and our knowledge of the issues facing citizens and governments. In the past few years we have dedicated a considerable amount of our R&D investments in our identity related capabilities. Our products integrate digital systems with the physical document itself. However, we understand that every nation’s requirements are unique, so each of our identity protection solutions is completely tailored to your specific needs and challenges. Roughly speaking, we have three main areas of expertise in the secure ID space: Digital Solutions, where we have created a complete, comprehensive digital identity management solution which simplifies what was previously a series of highly complex work streams, into a single sophisticated but user-friendly system.
Secondly, our range of secure identity documents, which are tailored to each nation’s requirements. They are designed to counter specifically identified threats, using a sophisticated, seamless layering of protective features.

And finally, in terms of service solutions, we create fully bespoke packages that provide each country with an on-going support and advice service. This ensures that a country’s specific needs and circumstances are addressed before delivery, during the implementation phase and throughout the full operational life of an identity management solution.

We believe it is critical that every customer can be sure they will get the very best solution for their needs, so in addition to our fully integrated service offering, we can also provide some of the key component elements of an end solution – from the secure paper that is used to create Identity documents like birth certificates and passports, to the delivery of polycarbonate bio-data data page solutions.

What made you join the Silicon Trust?

The Silicon Trust is an excellent, well-established platform to exchange knowledge with many expert companies along the secure ID value chain. We are looking forward to being a part of this community, participating in the debates and working together to further educate governments around the globe about the benefits and challenges of introducing identity management programs.

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