The authentication of persons and the production of identity documents have undergone major changes in recent decades, as the intensification of human displacement, including migratory flows, calls for solutions permitting better visibility of people movement.  At the same time an increasingly interconnected world is calling for solutions that authorize the electronic exchange of information between citizens and public authorities. Added to this is the need for states around the world to know their citizens and to organize democratic and transparent elections. These developments call for increasingly accurate and secure identity management – the main authentication challenges for governments being identity theft and counterfeiting – which in turn, demand perfectly functioning IT infrastructures and forgery-proof documents.

An offering covering the entire value chain.

Zetes has developed a comprehensive product and service offering ranging from live citizen enrolment to the issuance of identity documents. This offering, enabling states to entrust highly complex projects to a single supplier, is one source of success for the People ID Division. At the same time the offering is structured to permit implementation of just one or selected steps in the chain. This approach allows for considerable flexibility, although complete management by a single supplier permits data to flow in closed circuit, providing additional guarantees of end-to-end security.

ABIS (Automatic Identification Biometric System) systems, which detect duplicates in databases established from voter registration operations, occupy a central place in the Group's offering. Zetes has extensive experience in the field, with more than 20 projects successfully completed within allotted budgets and deadlines.

In this way the Zetes offering meets the needs of states and governments, for whom an accurate view of the populations residing on or passing through their territories is essential. In particular this includes:

  • organizing democratic elections
  • controlling migration flows
  • administrative management
  • human resource management (e.g. civil servants, police, military personnel).

The proposed solutions also satisfy the strict requirements of international standardization organizations such as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and IATA (International Air Transport Association).

Market-specific offerings

Zetes covers the various segments of the people identification market. Each solution is backed by all the processes in the value chain, with Zetes taking responsibility for all or part of these, depending on the customer's needs.

ZetesVox gathers the whole range of solutions related to the electoral world: voter enrolment, constitution of electoral lists, voter verification and eVoting.

ZetesPersona meets the primary need of population identification, with the establishment of civil registers and/or the issuing of identity cards.

ZetesOrbis provides answers to identification needs beyond national borders: e-passports, visas and border controls fall into this category.

ZetesSana is for States that are introducing social security and health care systems, which need to be supported by a strong authentication of those claiming for insurance cover.

ZetesVia identifies both drivers, with their driving licences, and vehicles, ensuring correct identification and registration.

A resilient model

Zetes' People ID business model is based on 'Build & Operate' (BO) and 'Build & Transfer' (BT) contracts. BO is the model of choice for government contracts for the issuance of identity and travel documents. This model has been validated over many years, with the long-term cooperation between customer states and Zetes strengthening the security and robustness of each solution.

Build & Operate

The authorities concede the production and/or customization of these documents to Zetes for a period of 5 to 10 years or more. This enables Zetes to invest in local infrastructure, creating jobs in the country and permitting knowledge transfer. Employees are trained and benefit from Zetes' experience for bringing the new site into operation.

  • No upfront investment by governments

To determine the price per document, Zetes inventories all the elements necessary for implementing the project: buildings, security, machinery, equipment, software, services and logistics.

It also evaluates the operational costs of hiring and training operators and the cost of know-how transfer.

Zetes also bears the entire infrastructure implementation costs. Governments do not need to make any initial investment (capex). If the client requests, a BO model can be finalized at the end of the contract period by transferring all the hardware and software components to the authorities. In this case we talk of BOT (Build, Operate & Transfer). 

  • Financial strength of the integrator

To be able to offer this model, which is still relatively unique to Zetes, a company must have a sound financial footing. As a listed company, Zetes' financial management is transparent and the company has the funds to support such investments in foreign countries. It derives its income directly from the sale of e-documents to citizens. The viability of a project is determined by the length of the contract (minimum 5 years) and the estimated number of e-documents to be issued each year within the set time period.

Zetes has, to date, 9 BOT projects under way in Belgium, Israel, Portugal, Ivory Coast and Gambia.

Build & Transfer

In a BT scenario, the authorities engage Zetes to execute a project over a short period of time, usually under one year.  This contract type is very common for biometric enrolment of voters, military personnel and civil servants, and for ABIS-type projects.

In this model, Zetes delivers

  • hardware and software components
  • deployment
  • support and Services
  • project management
  • operator training
  • technician training.

The government is usually in charge of field operations and operator payments.  Unlike the BOT model, BT requires an initial investment by the government, for a service usually delivered to its citizens within a very short time frame. 

Security first for citizen data

Person identification touches on the sensitive concepts of privacy and confidentiality. It is therefore imperative to provide maximum assurances of security both in the management of data and in the documents themselves.

This translates into several measures:

  • "Live enrolment": based on fixed and/or mobile kits, Zetes solutions operate 'in one place, once only' when collecting biographic and biometric information.
  • Data encryption, both during the transfer of information and by restricting access to certain data in a document to its owner only.
  • The use of advanced materials and techniques in document production and personalization to ensure their non-reproducibility.
  • Secure management of sensitive information, guaranteed by ISO 27001 and other certification.
  • Special personnel recruitment procedures and specific security authorizations

Zetes invests continuously in this area to guarantee to authorities and citizens the highest degree of protection of their data. In 2016, Zetes began building work to upgrade its Zetes Cards identity documents personalisation site in Belgium. This work, most of it at the very heart of the data centre, reflects, and at times reinforces, the extremely advanced security standards Zetes is required to work to in the course of its certifications.

Central to the Zetes offering are software developments that permit the secure capture, communication, management, storage and verification of personal data. But the architecture of Zetes' solutions also calls for hardware components that meet the requirements of ergonomics, deployment and, above all, security. Over the years, the company has launched:

  • mobile biometric enrolment kits, the latest version of which is more compact and lightweight, making it easily deployable in harsh field conditions;
  • fixed biometric enrolment kiosks, more robust and suitable for use in airports, embassies and consulates and similar environments;
  • e-gate stations, allowing border identity checks that are both fast and secure;
  • an electronic voting solution (Secur-eVote), which makes the voting process itself impervious to manipulation.

Success built on an excellent reputation

In its home country of Belgium, Zetes manages the issuance of electronic identity cards, residence permits for foreigners, the Kids-ID, e-passports and driving licences. These successful projects in Belgium have allowed Zetes to expand throughout EMEA. Zetes has prioritized this geographical area because demand in Europe and especially in Africa is very large. It has invested significant resources in business development, knowing that sales cycles are long and require sustained effort. In addition to Belgium, Zetes is intimately involved in the electronic identity card solutions for Israel and Portugal.  Zetes is strongly present in Africa, with many African states keen to set up national population registers as development policy tools. Africa's states have understood the value of biometrics for strong authentication of their citizens.

Zetes has deployed its solutions in Togo, Burundi, Gabon, Cape Verde, Benin, Chad, Guinea-Conakry, Israel, and Sierra Leone. The company's good reputation is based on the success of these projects. This accumulation of customer references is essential for guaranteeing growth in this division.

Most bids for identity and travel documents require major certification and references.  Zetes is therefore well positioned to continue its advance.

Africa: the urgent need for national and civil status registers

The challenges facing the African continent in terms of identification are numerous. As well as needing to issue highly secure identity documents such as e-passports, visas, ID cards and driving licences, the continent is faced with problems which are specific to itself, like the need to identify voters and social security recipients.  Various projects emerge, each requiring significant investments in time and financial resources. Underlying all these needs, however, is the basic problem of the embryonic state or absence of national registers, with all the concomitant shortcomings in terms of citizen access to fundamental rights and the exercise of democracy. This issue, which has been known for a long time, has drawn renewed interest in recent years, particularly with the creation of the IAPA-CRV program (Africa Program for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics), in partnership with, among others, the United Nations (UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA) and the WHO. The project to provide all citizens of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) with a common biometric identity card highlights yet again the need for centralized, secure databases holding complete social status information.  Identity is therefore at the centre of the concerns of the African continent. With its portfolio of solutions, its references and its direct presence in Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Togo and South Africa, Zetes still has plenty of opportunities to develop its business in the region.