Why Smart-ID is a smart idea

Written by Xolo
on January 07, 2019
  • Smart-ID is a free to use app which lets you log in to Estonian e-services, authorise payments from your bank accounts and digitally sign documents.
  • It's been a login option with Xolo since November 2017.
  • You only need your ID card once - when signing up for the app.

The basics

Smart-ID gives you an alternative login and digital signing option to your Estonian ID card, or Mobile ID. You can sign into Xolo, the Xolo app, and your banking services (LHV, Swedbank and SEB) using Smart-ID and your Estonian banking services using Smart-ID.

It allows you to sign in, authorise bank payments from your Estonian accounts, and digitally sign documents, including your business’ annual report. Xolo added Smart-ID as a login option in Nov 2017, to make life easier for all of our e-resident customers.

You'll need your Estonian ID card handy to sign up and start using the app, but that's a one-time thing. Once you're up and running you'll never look back, and more and more Estonian services have been adopting Smart-ID since it’s inception, so it’s a must-have for all Estonians and e-residents.

What is Smart-ID?

Smart-ID is an excellent app helping you access your Estonian e-services. Created by SK ID Solutions, it provides a much easier and more effortless login and digital signing option, compared to the combination of your ID card, reader and ID card software.

The ease of use of Smart-ID can't be overstated, with the simple interface and intelligent use of push notifications providing a smooth experience. It also means using your ID card, card reader, or even ID software will be a rare occurrence.

For the time being, you'll need your ID card to sign up with Xolo Leap, as we need you to authenticate yourself and digitally sign 3-5 documents. Once you get into the day-to-day running of your business, Smart-ID is a great option for logging in and accessing your account. And now you’re able to digitally sign documents with it, you’ll rarely need your ID card at all!

It's available for both Android and iOS devices (including smartphones and tablets), and we'd really recommend downloading it from your respective app store, if you haven't already.


Why should I download it?

In the recent past, there have been issues with Estonian ID cards, which affected citizens, residents and e-residents alike. These were related to a potential security vulnerability of the cards, and required all affected cardholders (around two-thirds of all cardholders) to update the certificates on their card. This should have been a simple process, which could be done remotely with your card reader and ID card desktop application.

However, due to the incredible demand, and workload for the servers, updating the certificates became a difficult and at times impossible task. This left people without working ID cards, unable to sign in to their banks and other service providers like the Estonian tax board, Statistics Estonia, and Xolo. Thousands of ID cards were replaced free of cost by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board because of the failed update process.

The simple solution for this already existed - Smart-ID. With Smart-ID, you won't lose access to your banks or services, even if there are issues with your ID card. And once you've signed up for Smart-ID you can use it for three years, regardless of whether you lose your ID card or if it expires during this time. This means much less stress in case of any more problems in future!

And this is even more relevant for e-residents, who need to travel a lot further to replace their ID card in case it stops working. They also can't access Mobile-ID, which would be the alternative option for Estonian residents.

On top of all this, it's just as secure as your ID card and reader. With Smart-ID you create your own 2 PIN codes for logging in. Once you've created them, you simply have to remember them. As long as no-one knows your PIN codes, no-one can use Smart-ID to access any of your secure online services, even if they get access to your phone.

Also, in case you're a Mac user, you'll already know about the issues you face trying to use your ID card and card reader. Macs can be incredibly temperamental when it comes to card readers and ID card software, and this can be frustrating. This is another reason to consider Smart-ID as an alternative. It won't let you down or stop you from simply accessing your bank or making payments.

And it's been getting better…

Smart-ID has consistently grown in popularity since it’s launch, and recent changes have made it almost indispensable.

Smart-ID can now be used as a means of authentication, payment authorisation and as a legally binding and recognised digital signature. In case you had an account prior to this big update in late 2018, you can now easily update your Smart-ID account by following the instructions in the video below. And yes, you’ll need your ID card handy again, but it only takes a minute and it is absolutely worth it!


Also, it's entirely likely that the problems with physical ID cards aren't finished yet. The Estonian government is considering extending the validity of ID card certificates from 3 years to 5 years, which in the long run could prove to be a good decision. However, this will mean all e-residents needing to update their certificates once again, and more potential technical and compatibility issues arising.

If this happens, having Smart-ID will be a godsend, and with more downloads and more users, the case for Smart-ID to be capable of digital signing will only become stronger.

What if I lose my ID card?

In case your ID card is ever lost or stolen, your Smart-ID app will carry on functioning, whilst you go through the process of getting a new card.

This is particularly helpful if you're an e-resident, and you need to travel to collect your card.

Is it available to everyone?

Absolutely. If you're a citizen, resident, or e-resident of Estonia, you can use Smart-ID.

And it can be accessed anywhere with wifi or mobile data access, so you'll never be without it.

What about Mobile-ID (Mobiil-ID)?

In case you aren't aware, Estonian mobile phone companies offer a similar service to Smart-ID, called Mobile-ID.

Mobile-ID can be accessed from any mobile device with an Estonian SIM card, and allows you to log in to your Estonian e-services, authorise payments, and make digital signatures.

Obviously, there are a few drawbacks of this. It's only available with an Estonian SIM card, and firstly, if you're not in Estonia you can't get your hands on one. More than this though, even if you can get one, you're tied into a phone contract which you're paying for but unlikely to use.

This is where Smart-ID comes in as a more helpful alternative, as it can be downloaded on used on any Android or iOS device, regardless of your SIM card.

Does it cost anything?

Nope. It's free to download and free to use, for all applicable users. Smart-ID transactions are paid for by the companies who let you use their e-services.

So, how do I get started?

Well, first things first, download the app. You can get it in the Apple app store, Google Play store or the Smart-ID website.

Once you've got it downloaded, you can register for an account. You can start this in the app, and then you'll need your ID card and reader to finish the process. This is a one-time occurrence for the registration, and you won't need your ID card to use Smart-ID in future.

And that's it! You can start using your Smart-ID account straight away - test it with Xolo, the Xolo app, LHV, or any of your other Estonian e-services.

You can see more information about downloading the app on the Smart-ID website, and in our own FAQ.