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The new organisation will promote open source software interoperability for digital wallets

This week Linux Foundation Europe announced the official formation of the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF). The announcement said the aim of the OWF was to “develop open source software to support interoperability for a wide range of wallet use cases”.

The use cases they will target include making payments, proving identity, storing validated credentials such as employment, education, financial standing, and entitlements. This, they say, will “enable trust in the digital future”.

Why this is needed

PayPal, Google and Apple are among the most popular digital wallet providers, but their various wallet apps don’t work well with each other. For example, an Apple Pay user can’t send money to Google Pay users. To address this issue, the OWF plans to create an “open source engine” that can power interoperable digital wallets across all possible use cases.

The OWF will not publish a wallet itself, nor offer credentials or create new standards. Instead, its open source software engine aims to become the core that other organizations and companies leverage to develop their own digital wallets. The wallets will seek feature parity with the best available wallets and interoperability with major cross-border projects such as the EU’s Digital Identity Wallet.

Gabriele Columbro, general manager of Linux Foundation Europe, explained the Euro-centric nature of the effort. “The EU has been a leading force in data privacy and consumer protection”, he said, “and efforts like OWF offer a concrete opportunity for policy makers to ‘shift left’ their engagement”. This he said, will enable “a continuous and transparent feedback cycle between regulations and regulated technology”.

Indeed, Europe plans to incorporate digital wallets into its existing eIDAS (electronic identification, authentication and trust services) regulation. This will give all EU citizens a single digital identity to carry out transactions and verification across all companies and public administrations.

A wide range of public and private sponsors

Sponsors of the OWF include Accenture, Gen, Futurewei and Visa. General members sponsoring the foundation include American Express, Deutsche Telekom / T-Systems, esatus AG, Fynbos, Hopae, IAMX, IDnow, IndyKite, Intesi Group, Ping Identity, SmartMedia Technologies (SMT), Spruce and Swisscom. 

In addition, 20 leading nonprofits, academic and government entities have joined the OWF, the foundation said.

Also read: Linux Foundation unveils Open Metaverse Foundation