Belgium to simplify administrative processes with 'digital wallet'

Belgium to simplify administrative processes with 'digital wallet'
The digital wallet would help simplify administrative processes. Credit: The City of Brussels

The federal government wants to create an online "wallet" for all people living in Belgium which would bundle all official documents, from visas to marriage certificates, to simplify administrative processes.

This would avoid ordinary citizens having to deal with the complex nature of the Belgian state when dealing with authorities for various processes, as all necessary information would be available on one digital platform, according to State Secretary for Digitalisation Mathieu Michel, who has put aside a €50 million budget for the initiative.

"Ordinary people should not bear the consequences of the complexity of our government, and as a government, we must ensure that it is easy for citizens to orientate themselves within these structures. The digital wallet will help in simplifying this," Michel's spokesperson Koen Peumans told The Brussels Times.

Peumans stressed that this switch to digitalise administrative processes and adopting the online wallet would not become mandatory, it would simply be an option for all people in Belgium.

"We have to take into account the digital divide that is still present, meaning those people who find it difficult to do things online can still communicate with the relevant authorities in the traditional way," he said.

Connecting existing systems

Rather than forcing the various government departments to implement new software, this system will simply connect all various methods, tools and data they use, Michel explained in an interview with Het Belang van Limburg.

Michel added that the digital wallet will allow people to identify themselves via their smartphones. The platform will also include communication tools, for example, one e-box, through which the various departments can communicate with people.

"That wallet will also tell you exactly what the governments in this country know about you," he said.

The newly created digital ministry will now analyse the weak points and will try to construct a bridging function between all government and administration services to implement the system by 2023.

So far, it remains unclear whether this digital wallet will be launched via an app or whether it will be a desktop-based website or both, but Peumans highlighted that "it's the basic idea behind this move that is important to consider today."

"Whether you want to apply for a driving licence or a building permit, you will just have to go to one place and everything will be organised there, rather than relying on ordinary citizens to know what level of government oversees these application processes," he said.

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