January 3, 2011
Germany began issuing the new contactless national ID to citizens in November. The program is one of the first contactless-only electronic ID programs. It also employs a unique privacy scheme to protect cardholders.
National ID cards aren’t new in the European Union and many countries use smart card technology to power the credentials. But the contactless German ID is a bit of a departure from what other countries have done and thus necessitated a slightly different take on existing contactless smart cards.
The country expects to issue 60 million cards over the next 10 years to replace existing paper documents, says Rudy Stroh, executive vice president of the ID business and country manager for Germany at NXP Semiconductors. NXP is providing the chip–its 128-kilobyte SmartMX secure contactless microcontroller–for the German e-ID.