Belgium unveils virtual digital identity card to extend itsme app functionality
Belgium Secretary of State for Digitalization Mathieu Michel has unveiled the creation of a new virtual digital identity card to expand the capabilities of the itsme app.
The digital identity app was first launched five years ago and has since been used by 6.5 million Belgians, according to The Brussels Times.
The use of the itsme solution saw incremental adoption rates across the country during the early stages of the pandemic, as it was the main tool through which citizens could prove their vaccination status (via the Covid Safe Ticket feature).
More broadly, Itsme allows users to securely identify themselves on a site or application, as well as approve banking transactions, sign documents online, and prove their identity in a variety of other scenarios.
“The highest level of identification must be guaranteed by the State. It is a sovereign function,” Michel said on Tuesday.
“Virtual identity should be a prerogative of the Federal State. Identity should not become a regional competence.”
The new virtual card released by the Belgian state would fit into this picture, integrating within the itsme app.
At the same, the minister warned against becoming dependent on a single company for the issuing and management of citizens’ digital identities.
“Where other countries are wondering how to use recovery funds to create European digital champions, we must avoid a situation where public funds are used in Belgium to compete with solutions that the state itself has contributed to developing,” Michel told 7sur7.
In fact, itsme has been growing steadily over the course of the last two years. In July 2021, the company raised €24.7 million (US$29.3 million), reportedly to take further steps toward providing a European digital identity.
Biometric Update has reached out to both Michel and itsme and will update this article should they provide further comments on the matter.
In the meantime, Belgium is in the midst of releasing new biometric passports. The country has also recently approved the establishment of a biometric database for migrants as part of the EU Entry/Exit System.