The Linux Foundation‘s European off-shoot has formally launched the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF), a new collaborative effort designed to support interoperability between digital wallets through open source software.
The launch comes some five months after the Linux Foundation first revealed plans to set up the OWF, shortly before it spun out a region-specific entity called the Linux Foundation Europe which is where the OWF will now officially reside.
Alongside today’s launch, the OWF and Linux Foundation also published a new report to highlight the importance of a more open digital wallet ecosystem, noting that the total value of all digital wallet transactions was $15.9 trillion in 2021. The market is significant, as is the need to help companies avoid vendor lock-in, which is one of the OWF’s core selling points.
It’s worth stressing that the OWF won’t be building a digital wallet itself, or developing new standards — it wants to create the technological core that any other third-party can use to power their own digital wallets.
The OWF was the brainchild of Daniel Goldscheider, CEO of open banking startup Yes.com, who spearheaded the project’s initial development as it was incorporated into the Linux Foundation.
“We are really focusing on the layer between the standards and the wallets, we will not create standards, and we will not create a wallet, we are focusing on open source software on top of those standards, but underneath the wallets,” Goldscheider told TechCrunch.
Europe boundThat the OWF has elected to set up shop under the auspices of the Linux Foundation’s European operation is notable. Indeed, Europe is spearheading a broader push against the “walled garden” ethos of big tech, and is currently forging ahead with new rules to enforce interoperability between messaging platforms, while the U.S. is carving out similar plans via the ACCESS Act.
Specific to the OWF’s goals, however, Europe is also looking to incorporate digital wallets into its existing eIDAS (electronic identification, authentication and trust services) regulation, effectively giving all EU citizens a single digital identity to carry out transactions and verification across all companies and public administrations. The European Commission also recently set out the specifications required to develop an interoperable Europe-wide Digital Identity Wallet based on common standards.
And it’s against that backdrop that the OWF has launched with the backing of a host of parties with a vested interest in a more open digital wallet infrastructure.
Initial OWF sponsors and “premier” members include Visa, Avast’s parent company Gen Digital, Accenture and Huawei’s U.S. R&D subsidiary Futurewei Technologies, which apparently pay a €200,000 ($213,000) annual fee that gets them voting rights on the Technical Advisory Committee and Outreach Committee — rights not afforded to those on lower membership tiers. Indeed, “general” members pay up to €50,000 per year depending on how many employees they have, with initial participants including American Express, Deutsche Telecom, Swisscom, Thoma Bravo-owned Ping Identity, Spruce, Esatus, Fynbos, IDnow, IndyKite and Intesi.
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