Finland is the first country in the world to allow its citizens to manage digital mandates and act on behalf of another person or organization in digital and physical services.
Mandates are provided with Suomi.fi-e-Authorizations, which is free to use for public, private and third sector service providers and end-users in Finland.
The service is built and shared as an open-source and can be utilized by other countries and organisations to provide similar e-Authorization-solutions.
The ability to act on behalf of another legal entity in digital services does not only increase digital productivity, but also enables to bring those who are not able to use the digital services by themselves to the helm of digital services.
Suomi.fi e-Authorizations provides mandates for all possible business cases and scenarios as well as their use cases, depending on which services the mandate is being used for.
Mandates are provided either by base registry-based checking of a person’s authority, or from a unique Mandate Register. The Mandate Register is based on so called Mandate themes (currently approximately 200 different themes available), which are defined nationwide jointly with the service providers of different areas (for example, Health sector). Citizens are then able to grant mandates in Suomi.fi-service on matters regardless of service provider and the digital service itself. The development of the new mandate themes is on-going national process.
The end-users benefit quickly from the fast-growing number of digital (and physical) services allowing them to mandate other citizens and organizations to use digital services on behalf of them. The Finnish citizens have already created nearly 4 million digital mandates in less than two years and there are over 2 million authorization queries per month (December 2019).
For service providers (currently nearly 1000 organizations) using the Suomi.fi-e-Authorization, the service brings significant cost savings. For example, The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) has estimated that getting citizens to mandate others to use their digital services instead of visiting service locations saves up to 6-8 euros / visit, thus creating major savings just by allowing the end-users to move to digital services also when the end-users cannot use digital services themselves.
Upcoming features in 2020-2021 include for example support for cross-border authorizations (within EU-countries) and support for new base registers (associations and trustees).
Suomi.fi e-Authorizations is developed with scalable agile methods (based on Population Register Centres Lean Digitalization Framework) and adapting the principles of user-centric design. Suomi.fi e-Authorizations -service is fully open source and available at GitHub (https://github.com/vrk-kpa). The service is constantly developed, and the latest source code is frequently published to GitHub.
National legislation makes it mandatory to include e-authorizations to all public sector digital services where citizens could benefit from the possibility to mandate other citizens to act on behalf of them.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Suomi.fi-e-authorizations is a unique solution in Europe (and even globally) both conceptually and within the legal framework and the use of centralized government funded service for both public and private sector in order to provide better digital services for Finnish citizens.
Suomi.fi-e-Authorizations provides new ways for public and private sector to provide digital services also for situations which previously required travelling to service locations, thus cutting down the unnecessary use of cars, especially in the Finnish countryside where distances are far.
The possibility to create digital person-to-person mandates has turned out to be especially useful inside families and friends. For example, elderly parents can now authorize their children, friends or other trusted persons to pick-up the prescription medicines from any Finnish pharmacy instead of having to travel themselves to pharmacies.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The Suomi.fi-e-Authorizations-service has been developed since 2015 and deployed from 2016. Currently the use of e-Authorizations is growing rapidly and further development is ongoing until 2021.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The service is continuously developed based on lean and user centric model. Service providers (public, private, third sector) as well as citizens are part of the development process through several channels providing invaluable new ideas and needs (online citizens development community, stakeholder workshops, research and end-user testing, testing of the public-beta releases etc.).
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Citizens benefit by getting better digital services regardless of service providers.
Public, private and third sector organizations gain major cost-savings while providing better services.
Nationally, the e-Authorizations service speeds up the digitalization of the whole country and is one of the key services enabling the Finnish entrepreneurs to be able to use all public services digitally by 2023, as drawn in current policy statement by Finnish Government.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
During 2019 (January-November)
Nearly 1,8 million new digital mandates have been made by citizens in Suomi.fi, summing the total amount of existing digital mandates to nearly 4 million.
Nearly 16 million authorization checks have been made, meaning the same number of users using digital service instead of other service channels (phone, paper post, service locations). This reflects the savings of at least 60 million euros so far this year jointly for service providers.
Service usage has increased approximately 5 % per month during last 12 months and predictions show the same growth rate also in year 2020.
In 2019 Finland took the first place in the European Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and excels especially on digital public services. With the creation and successful deployment of Suomi.fi-e-Authorizations Finland became “the first country in the world to allow people to electronically authorize another person to make important decisions for them”.
Challenges and Failures
The biggest challenges with e-Authorizations service are not technological rather than legal.
The fast-growing use of the service brings up new development needs that would benefit the society but require changes in current legislation in order to be deployed. Since the process of creating new legislation is not us lean as the development of the service itself, the benefits do not come in use as quickly as they could.
The Population Register Centre is responding to this gap by having proof-of-concepts, prototypes and test-environments that can be run by limited number of users. This helps legislators to see the functionalities in use and therefore understand easier what kind of legislation changes are needed.
Conditions for Success
The success of e-Authorizations and all other Suomi.fi-services in Finland is based on the chosen development method, substantial funding, open-source solutions, user-centric design and supporting legislation.
The iterative development, investing to service design instead of technology and the lean agile development model that creates lots of room for innovation have proved to be successful.
The Population Register Centre runs the development by its own staff but procures all developers, designers, testers etc. from the market, and the work is done jointly in Population Register Centre offices.
In general, the solution could be replicated in other countries to provide similar e-authorization services.
In Europe, the new Single Digital Gateway-act requires member states to create a set of cross-border digital services fully digital by 2023.
One key enabler for delivering cross-border digital services in European Union is the possibility to act on behalf of a company and other citizens.
For example, currently Finland and Estonia are already exchanging digital e-prescriptions cross-border, making it possible for Finns to pick up their medicines from Estonia and vice versa. In the future, also the mandates could be delivered in a common cross-border way, making it possible for Finns to pick up their children’s or mandators medicines in Estonia and vice versa.
Since 2019, the Population Register Centre has been involved in a joint pi-lot-project with European Commission and few other member states to define a common model and vocabulary for representation of mandates and powers.
Suomi.fi-e-Authorizations has accelerated the digitization of multiple public and private sector organizations and their services in Finland and proven to provide benefits for its citizens.
The substantial funding, legal framework and the possibility to generate common solutions for both public and private sector centrally are essential.
Also, focus on user-centric, lean, open-source based development has turned out to be successful, at least in Finland.