SDI4ECom Project Launched

Secure and self-determined digital identities in e-commerce

Research focus: Safety, Security and the Law

What happens to customer data when shopping online? In the SDI4ECom project, the partners PIA econda, PIA UDG, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, and the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg (HSO) research and develop concepts and solutions to give customers back control over their data and allow them to build their own shopping identities. The project is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Tourism of Baden-Württemberg.

Data is invaluable to businesses, especially in e-commerce. An individual customer experience and suitable product recommendations increase the fun and convenience of online shopping for customers and at the same time increase the relevance of the products displayed. This has a positive effect on a company’s conversion rate and sales. Accordingly, companies want to collect as much data as possible about their customers – but must adhere to strict data protection guidelines in order to protect their consumers’ privacy. Although strict privacy laws are designed to protect consumers, consumers do not have proper control over what data is collected from them and how it is used.

“Everyone wants a personalized shopping experience, and everyone would be willing to trustfully provide their data to a store or other service provider for this purpose. Current cookie banners do not meet this requirement in any way. In the interest of everyone, both customers and store operators, improvements must be made here.”
Philipp Sorg, CEO PIA econda

The SDI4ECom research project

The SDI4ECom project addresses this problem and develops the basis for a digital shopping profile that is built on secure, self-determined digital identities and can be used across Europe. Consumers can make self-determined decisions about their data, while companies can collect and use relevant data about customers more easily without violating data protection regulations. In this way, the project contributes to create a balanced and transparent relationship between consumers and companies in e-commerce, based on trust, data protection and sovereignty.

Self-sovereign identity and wallets: E-commerce application

At the heart of the SDI4ECom project is the self-sovereign identity (SSI) approach. SSI enables users to retain control over their personal data and determine for themselves what information they want to share with companies. Wallets serve as personal data storage devices that can be used to manage data securely and clearly.

The result is a win-win situation for consumers and companies: Consumers can protect their privacy, while companies receive targeted data that is necessary for personalized offers and improved customer experiences.

“When it comes to online shopping, users currently hardly have the opportunity to share their data and preferences in a simple and targeted manner. The SDI4ECom project sets a significant milestone in e-commerce with the implementation of self-sovereign identities (SSI). It allows users to manage their data and preferences independently, enabling individualized shopping experiences while protecting privacy. The project thus significantly contributes to promoting a secure and individualized online shopping landscape.”

Simone Braun, Professor for E-commerce at the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg

The solutions developed in the SDI4ECom project are to be used specifically for the e-commerce sector. With the help of the wallets, consumers can design their own shopping identities and determine which data they share with online stores. This leads to greater personalization and improved customer loyalty, as companies can respond more specifically to the needs and wishes of their customers. At the same time, data protection is preserved, as wallets give users full control over their data.

Changing the way data is handled in e-commerce

The SDI4ECom project has the potential to permanently change the way data is handled in e-commerce and to set new standards for data protection and consumer data sovereignty. By combining innovative technologies such as SSI and wallets with the expertise of the various project partners, a solution is being created that offers advantages for both companies and consumers. In this way, the SDI4ECom project is making an important contribution to shaping the future of online shopping and the digital world as a whole.

The project is divided into different phases enabling the development of self-determined shopping identities to be progressed step by step. In each phase, milestones are reached that contribute to achieving the project goal of an improved customer experience, a higher conversion rate and increased satisfaction. Once the SDI4ECom solution has been successfully implemented in the e-commerce sector, further fields of application could be opened up. The concept of self-determined shopping identities has the potential to be used in other industries and sectors where data sovereignty and data protection play a crucial role.

The consortium

The following partners with different competences are working together on this project:

PIA econda

As consortium leader and corporate partner, econda provides part of its infrastructure, including its customer data platform and personalization engine. The company’s main task is to make necessary adjustments to the infrastructure in order to successfully integrate the wallets and generate effective recommendations.


UGD is a full-service digital agency with expertise in user experience, content, design and accessibility. Together with HSO and the FZI, UGD will contribute its know-how to the conception of the usability & user experience of the wallet.

University of Applied Sciences Offenburg (HSO)

As a research partner, HSO focuses on usability & user experience (UUX) and contributes its expertise and knowledge in the field of e-commerce. Its tasks include analyzing usage contexts as well as designing, implementing and evaluating user experience, and investigating the effectiveness of various design options for promoting sustainable purchasing decisions.

FZI Research Center for Information Technology

As a research partner, the FZI focuses on the digital sovereignty of the various stakeholders. For this purpose, different design options are compared with regard to the process, the data structure and the access control. In addition, the connection of an SSI wallet to econda’s backend system for the e-commerce use case will be developed as a prototype. Another goal is to develop a data model based on questions and interaction data to clearly specify which data should be part of the wallet and which can be stored outside. It is also important to present the data in a structured way for a user-friendly experience and so that users can specifically and consciously select the data to be shared. With its contribution, the FZI on the one hand strengthens the digital sovereignty of users and on the other offers small companies the opportunity to get to know and understand their customers better without requiring permanent access to large amounts of data and thus minimizing risks for data protection and IT security.

About the FZI

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology, with headquarters in Karlsruhe and a branch office in Berlin, is a non-profit institution for information technology application research and technology transfer. It delivers the latest scientific findings in information technology to companies and public institutions and qualifies individuals for academic and business careers or the leap into self-employment. Supervised by professors from various faculties, the research groups at the FZI develop interdisciplinary concepts, software, hardware and system solutions for their clients and implement the solutions found as prototypes. The FZI House of Living Labs provides a unique research environment for application research. The FZI is an innovation partner of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and strategic partner of the German Informatics Society (GI).

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Valérie Hasler

Division Manager Communications
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Head of PR &Corporate Communications,

This press release was adopted by PIA econda and slightly modified. The paragraph “The consortium“ was extended by information on the FZI’s tasks.