'Simplifying services': Belgium among first in EU to launch digital wallet

'Simplifying services': Belgium among first in EU to launch digital wallet
Credit: The Brussels Times / Belga / Schaerbeek

Simplifying the administrative procedures for people in Belgium has increasingly become a priority for the Federal Government. The roll-out of the digital identity wallet, called MyGov.be, marks a major step in this process.

The MyGov.be application is a virtual wallet for official documents and an electronic point of contact for submitting requests to the administration. All government departments in the country can integrate their services into the app to facilitate citizens' administrative procedures.

"In Belgium, we live in a complex institutional model, which is why making life as easy as possible for our citizens is so important," said Mathieu Michel (MR), Secretary of State for Digitalisation, during a press conference on Tuesday to mark the launch.

The application went live early on Tuesday morning and can now be downloaded for free from the usual platforms. This makes Belgium one of the first EU Member States to launch a European digital identity wallet after the publication of the European eIDAS 2.0 regulation – an updated eIDAS regulation that provides for the interoperability of national electronic identification systems.

People living in Belgium can choose for themselves whether to download it. Once downloaded, a profile can be registered via Itsme or using an identity card and the eID system. The safety of the app is guaranteed by limiting registration to these platforms.

What can the application be used for?

The Belgian digital identity wallet brings together various government services as well as official documents online. Firstly, the application will include the eBox – the Federal Government's secure electronic mailbox with around 3.55 million citizen users and 683 incorporated services. This is an assembly point where citizens can digitally receive, keep and manage their government documents.

It will also serve as an electronic wallet where users can find all their government documents such as birth and marriage certificates and identity data online.

The application launched on Tuesday has been dubbed the '1.0 version of MyGov.be', as only a limited number of documents are available at the moment. These include Covid vaccination certificates and the ISI+ card for those who are not entitled to an electronic identity document but are covered by Belgian social security (e.g. children, cross-border workers).

"This will make life much easier for parents," said Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit). "Parents were previously given just one physical card, meaning a decision had to be made on who would keep it." This can cause complications, especially when parents are divorced, but now both parents can have a digital card.

Constantly evolving

The design allows the application to be constantly updated as more government departments make their services available.

By 2025, the digital eID and the digital driving licence will also be incorporated into the app, meaning people will no longer need to carry around their physical cards. Other vaccination data will also be added, which can be used when travelling to countries with mandatory vaccination. The My Benefits platform will also be integrated, allowing people with a low income or people with a disability to prove their social status easily.

Eventually, by 2026, the European Health Insurance Card should also be incorporated, which entitles people to receive the same standards of care abroad and ensures reimbursement for necessary care in EU countries and some non-EU countries. "Eventually, this application will help ensure people have the necessary documents with them at all times," Michel explained.

Citizens can also use MyGov.be to request certificates and official documents via a virtual counter. It can already be used for authentication purposes, while a later upgrade will allow people to use it for digital signatures, as well as to share documents.

The first version of the wallet was tested at the beginning of the year by over 100 citizens. "It marks the first step towards a comprehensive app for interaction between government and all Belgians," Michel said. It has also been tested by several security partners, while all data on the application is encrypted.

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