Bundesdruckerei GmbH (BDR) is a leading German high-tech security company that is based in Berlin. As providers of trust services in both analog and digital industries, the secure identities, data and infrastructures that the BDR provides, enable governments, private companies and citizens to act with confidence. BDR’s products and services are “Made in Germany”, and are firmly rooted in the reliable and lawful identification of individuals and institutions. Working as a security company on behalf of the German government, and with more than 250 years of experience under their belt, the BDR is paving the way for a secure digital age.

Here, Dr. Fabian Grabicki, and expert in Trusted Services with D-TRUST GmbH, one of the companies affiliated with the Bundesdruckerei, talks about BDR’s work and its relationship with the Cloud Signature Consortium.

What companies are involved in the BDR and what are the main focuses of those affiliated with it?

The Bundesdruckerei Group includes affiliated companies D-TRUST GmbH, Genua GmbH, Maurer Electronics GmbH, and iNCO Sp. z o.o. The Group employs a workforce of over 2,700 employees, and generated revenue of around €556m in 2018. The Bundesdruckerei also holds shares in Veridos GmbH, DERMALOG Identification Systems GmbH, cv Cryptovision GmbH and Verimi GmbH.

Berlin-based D-TRUST GmbH is a company of the Bundesdruckerei Group. D‑TRUST GmbH is one of the pioneers in the field of secure digital identities. Since 2016, the company has been listed with the German Federal Network Agency as a qualified trust service provider in accordance with the European eIDAS Regulation. The company issues qualified digital certificates for electronic signatures, seals and qualified remote signatures. It also offers other Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) products and services, such as its AusweisIDent service.

What services do you offer in terms of Cloud Signatures, and how do these help your clients?

Our sign-me product provides users with identification services that are based on various methods, namely on-site, video or ID card verification. Identified users can then remotely sign different types of documents via basic, advanced or qualified different eIDAS levels. The product is supplied as a software development kit (SDK) that can be integrated into standard document workflow systems or customer-specific workflows. It can also be used directly on its own web portal.

What are the benefits of using electronic signatures and in what way are they used by your clients?

Electronic signatures offer a vast range of benefits, especially when using the remote signature solution (sign-me). This solution is very convenient as you can basically sign anything from anywhere. It is very secure, as the service is eIDAS-compliant and provided by a qualified trust service provider. It is also very flexible, as it is not bound to any hardware (card), reading device or other middleware. All in all, the service saves you time and storage because you no longer need to appear in person while ridding you of paperwork.

What was the logic behind becoming involved with the development of the CSC specification? How has BDR contributed to its development?

It has always been BDR’s strategy to drive standardization. In this context, we have been able to put our expertise in security solutions, our good relationship with stakeholders, and our understanding of the demands of our customers to good work.

What is your relationship to the Cloud Signature Consortium and how has this helped your business? What has CSC helped to bring to your clients?

BDR is an executive and founding member of CSC. We have assumed a leadership role and are shaping the future of trust service technology. CSC is supporting our industry by jointly producing standardized solutions. We have also benefitted from several joint offerings with other members, in particular, with Adobe Sign.

Can you explain how BDR makes its sign-me service available both to its clients and users?

Sign-me can be used in three ways. First, the client can use its own workflow and then connect to our service via an API. The second option is for a client who already uses Adobe Sign; it can use the existing interface between Adobe and our service to complete signing. The third way is for the client, as an individual party, can use our web portal to sign its documents.

In which sectors have your services proved popular, and what products do you supply to clients in these sectors?

Many clients currently use the service to sign customer loan contracts and personnel leasing contracts with employment agencies or various insurance policies. A substantial amount of our business comes from use in internal processes in public companies and private institutions. Overall, the most interesting sectors besides the public sector are currently the insurance, banking and human resources industries, with the health sector also being expected to grow in future.

Can you give me any other examples of ‘success stories’ where BDR’s services have helped a company/sector and transformed the way they do business in terms of using e-signatures?

Let me share one of our success stories with our business partner Zenjob, https://www.zenjob.de/press/e-signature. In this case, BDR/D-TRUST offered Zenjob, an employment agency for working students, the unique opportunity to sign their contracts with prospective employees using sign-me literally ’on the go’. This solution is convenient, it reduces costs and storage and is more efficient. Another advantage is that both companies share a similar digital and technological background and mindset which made handling processes even smoother.

What does the next year hold for BDR? Are there any exciting developments on the horizon in 2020?

We expect to see some new features that will make remote signing even more attractive, such as in the area of second factor (Strong Customer Authentication/SCA). We also foresee a significant uptake of the market, at least in Germany, driven by legislation in the health sector as well as in the public sector (Law for the Improvement of Online Access to Administration Services/OZG). The new service offerings in the public sector will drive the penetration of digital identities and this, in turn, will result in increased usage of qualified electronic signatures, mainly by remote signing, in the private sector.

Many thanks to Dr. Fabian Grabicki for taking the time to speak with CSC.