It’s me: new identity app could be about to replace passwords

Summary

The app, launched by the federal government and a consortium of banks and telecoms providers, will work via a simple code or fingerprint, and can be used for both shopping and administration

Who goes there?

A new digital identity app could soon replace passwords and card readers. The federal government and a consortium called Belgian Mobile ID have teamed up to launch the app, called Itsme.

Customers can already use the app to carry out online transactions, and it is being used by the partners in Belgian Mobile ID – Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC, ING, Orange, Telenet and Proximus – and a number of other organisations.

By 2018, the Tax-on-Web and MyPension e-government services should also be accessible via Itsme. Until now, users have needed to use an electronic ID and card reader or a more complicated procedure with tokens.

For every action, such as logging in, approving or signing, the user will have to enter a secret five-digit code or fingerprint on their phone. It will no longer be necessary to remember a user name and password for different websites.

While the government emphasised the security of the app, legal expert Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert raised a few questions in an op-ed for Knack, asking what happens when a phone is stolen, or whether the code can be cracked. “It’s beyond doubt that there are dangers connected to an application which harbours your online soul,” he said.