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SBB is logging out: SwissID loses «important customer»

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 02.02.2022
Translation: Eva Francis

As of April, SBB will no longer be using the login service SwissID. This is a major drawback for the Swiss e-ID.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is logging out. According to Inside IT, Switzerland’s national railway company will stop using the login service SwissID. This means that the central Swiss login service – a subsidiary of Swiss Post – is losing an important customer. What are the reasons for SBB’s decision? Economic reasons and lack of customer interest, as SBB tells Inside IT.

In an e-mail to customers, SBB writes: «In the future, we will focus on the proven SwissPass login of the public transport industry and offer a more clear and user-friendly login page.»

The switch will take place on 31 March 2022. According to Inside IT, SwissID will try to win back SBB.

SwissID: good idea, lacking popularity

SwissID is a good idea – in theory. The service offers all Swiss citizens a central login service. You can verify your identity in the app and use this verified identity for other online services. SwissID's business idea is that online shops, services, government bodies and all those who need logins on their portals accept SwissID as a secure login method.

For users, this means they only need one login. This would mean, instead of «log in with Facebook», it would say «log in with SwissID». Log in and your identity is verified and you can do things such as order debt collection statements or sign officially valid contracts.

SwissID wants to become the electronic ID card (e-ID) of Switzerland.

SwissID customers on 2 February 2022
SwissID customers on 2 February 2022

The problem? SwissID is hardly used in everyday Swiss online life and offers no significant improvement over other login services. SwissID customers include 9 of Switzerland's 26 cantons. That sounds impressive on a business level. But at a user level, it's a different story. Why would someone from Aargau want to log into the canton of Bern? They only need and use their home canton login and don't care about the rest. The same applies to banks. SwissID has around a dozen bank customers. Users might have accounts at one or two banks. As a result, people in Switzerland very rarely encounter the SwissID login in everyday online life.

The numbers confirm this. According to Inside IT, SwissID aimed to have two million users by 2020. The magazine cites data from Swiss Post, according to which 1.6 million users currently use SwissID.

SwissID is missing everyday use cases – Zalando, or the login on news portals such as Things that Swiss people use every day. But even if a benefit in everyday life was given, would people in Switzerland want it?

Data is valuable – login only the way to get there

Companies aren't interested in SwissID, even if the centralised login service managed by a trusted entity offers customers great advantages in terms of privacy. Similar to the login with Apple ID, SwissID could enable making purchases or logging in without disclosing personal data, as SwissID would be considered a trusted entity. This instance would hopefully be even more secure than the other login services.

The problem? Not only your purchases generate money for a shopping portal. Your data is valuable. If website operators want, they can sell your user data to third parties. This has to be stated in the terms and conditions, but hardly anyone reads them. Or you may be asked whether you want to share your data with «selected partners».

So if SwissID now managed your user data as a trusted central entity, shopping portals wouldn’t get all the data that’s interesting for data brokers. This would mean income is lost. Instead, the shopping portal would have to pay SwissID for the use of the service and couldn’t resell any data. In other words, SwissID offers no advantages to a commercial company and costs the company money.

Therefore, companies want to offer their own login service, to make sure all the data is with them and they have a way to make even more money.

So there you have it. Before anyone asks: no, does not resell your data.

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