Linux Foundation Europe Announces New OpenWallet Foundation

Linux Foundation Europe, an independent trusted supporter and vendor-neutral home for open source projects in Europe, announced the official formation of the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF).

This new, collaborative effort will “develop open source software to support interoperability for a wide range of wallet use cases, including making payments, proving identity, storing validated credentials such as employment, education, financial standing, and entitlements — to enable trust in the digital future.”

Inaugural Premier members sponsoring the OWF “include Accenture, Gen, Futurewei and Visa. General members sponsoring the foundation include American Express, Deutsche Telekom / T-Systems, esatus AG, Fynbos, Hopae, IAMX, IDnow, IndyKite, Intesi Group, Ping Identity, SmartMedia Technologies (SMT), Spruce and Swisscom.”

Additionally, 20 leading nonprofits, academic and government entities “have joined the foundation, including Customer Commons, Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), Digital Dollar Project, Digital Identity New Zealand (DINZ),” among many others.

The OWF will “not publish a wallet itself, nor offer credentials or create new standards. Instead, its open source software engine aims to become the core that other organizations and companies leverage to develop their own digital wallets.”

The wallets will “seek feature parity with the best available wallets and interoperability with major cross-border projects such as the EU’s Digital Identity Wallet.”

Daniel Goldscheider, Founder of the OpenWallet Foundation, said:

“Wallets are critical infrastructure for payments, for identity, and for secure access. Open source – driven by collaboration among for-profits large and small, non-profits, and government leaders – is a great role model for infrastructure that is vital for digital societies and benefits everyone. With open source at the core of wallets, like it is at the core of web browsers, anyone can build a digital wallet that works with others and gives consumers the freedom to maintain their identity and verifiable credentials and share relevant data when, where, and with whom they choose.”

With such a consequential and diverse group of members, OWF underscores “how important it is to have an open foundation to support a plurality of digital wallets to ensure consistency, interoperability, and portability while protecting consumer privacy.”

Gabriele Columbro, general manager of Linux Foundation Europe, said:

“The world needs a place to store digital assets that matter, and the work of this foundation has the potential to redefine the credentials landscape globally, creating in turn much better digital experiences for people everywhere and new market opportunities. The EU has been a leading force in data privacy and consumer protection, and efforts like OWF offer a concrete opportunity for policy makers to “shift left” their engagement, enabling a continuous and transparent feedback cycle between regulations and regulated technology. That’s why we are honored to bring such a relevant group of cross-industry players together in OWF under Linux Foundation Europe. ”

The OWF is “the second project hosted by Linux Foundation Europe.”

Project Sylva was “added in November 2022 to create an open source telco cloud software framework.”

Launching in tandem with OWF is “a new report, Why the World Needs an Open Source Digital Wallet Right Now, from the OWF in partnership with Linux Foundation Research.”

The report notes:

  • Digital wallets are the world’s leading payment method for e-commerce and point-of-sale retail. In 2021, the value of digital wallet transactions came to $15.9 trillion.
  • Hundreds of digital wallets exist, but suffer from a host of problems, including vendor lock in, no interoperability, questionable security, and limited capabilities.
  • New wallets are underway, too, but without them all staying in sync, every country or organization that issues credentials could become a walled garden. IDs and wallets from elsewhere won’t work, disrupting travel, international students, and mobile workforces.
  • The future will include multiple wallets, which is why we need a world-class wallet engine to ensure that interoperability is built in.
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