The government is looking for an alternative to Itsme login app

The federal government is working on its own login app as an alternative to the wildly popular Itsme. However, the same government has been Itsme’s largest shareholder for a year now.

With 6.5 million users, Itsme is untraditional for Belgians who want to register with Tax-on-Web, a public service, a bank or a telecommunications company. But the five-year-old app will face competition next year.

The federal government is working on its own login app as an alternative to Itsme. This was stated by the Federal Secretary of State for Digitization Mathieu Michel (MR) to Het Nieuwsblad and was confirmed to De Tijd. The new login system should be available within the next year.

20%

the interest of the state

FPIM, the federal government’s investment fund, owns 20 percent of Belgian Mobile ID, the company behind Itsme.

The government primarily wants to have a backup ready, says Michel’s spokesman. ‘What if Itsme is soon sold to a foreign private company? Or what if the app is down, for example the last day when citizens can submit their tax return? As a government, you have to anticipate such scenarios. ‘

Largest shareholder

That realization comes to the government too late. The Federal Participation and Investment Company (FPIM), the federal government’s investment fund, has since last year been the largest shareholder in Belgian Mobile ID, the company behind Itsme.

FPIM owns 20 percent of the group, which has traditionally been controlled by the four major banks Belfius, KBC, ING Belgium and BNP Paribas Fortis, as well as the telecommunications companies Orange Belgium, Proximus and Telenet. And since Proximus and Belfius are also controlled by the state, the government in practice weighs a little heavier in the shareholding.



If the government goes through with its plans, users risk getting stuck with two login apps. Not user friendly.

The new login app is part of the ‘digital wallet’ that the Federal Public Service Policy and Support (FPS Bosa) is working on, explains Michel’s spokesman. This digital portfolio is a much broader project, which also includes applications around digital certificates, communication with the public sector and MyData, which gives citizens insight into the personal data that the public sector has at its disposal. FPS Bosa has an annual budget of 50 million euros. That money does not just go to the alternative login app.



If you need your email ID again for an alternative login app, we’ll go back in time.

It is also doubtful whether the new login app will actually be made available in government circles. ‘It is still a proposal from FPS Bosa. But as always, this file must go through the process of inter-cabinet working groups, leaders of cabinet meetings, core and ministerial councils. ‘

Observers cannot see the government’s login app evolving into an Itsme killer. ‘In fact, she is not a solution. As a government and a citizen, you are suddenly faced with two login methods that are not user-friendly. One of the strengths of Itsme is that people can install it through their banking app. If you need your email ID again for an alternative login app, we’ll go back in time. ‘

Too high fees

Belgian mobile ID is even surprised. “A few weeks ago, we learned that the government is building an alternative,” says CEO Stéphanie De Bruyne. According to Belgian Mobile ID, it is precisely the collaboration with the government that has led to Belgium becoming a ‘reference’ in Europe in the field of digital identity.

‘In the development of the digital portfolio, we have always strived for an and-and-history where the public and private sectors work together with respect for their own roles and responsibilities,’ De Bruyne responds to criticism of Itsme’s monopoly position.

800,000

Invoice

Last year, the Belgian Mobile ID government charged the government around 800,000 euros for all possible services that Itsme provides to the public sector.

The relationship between the government and Itsme was recently sharpened by a discussion of costs. Governments that use Itsme as an authentication tool for their sites charge a Belgian mobile ID fee. It is legally limited to 450,000 euros. But in recent weeks, there has been criticism that Belgian mobile IDs charge governments too high a cost for applications that fall outside the legal framework.

The CovidSafe app, for example. Frank Robben, the senior official at the head of Crossroads Bank for Social Security and the eHealth platform, recently accused Belgian mobile ID of abusing its monopoly position to charge unreasonable costs for the covid app.

The extra bill would amount to hundreds of thousands of euros, according to a source even 800,000 euros. “There has never been much transparency about exactly what these costs are,” a government source said. ‘Only after negotiations was that invoice reduced by half.’

Belgian mobile ID declined to comment on the discussion on Tuesday and did not say how much it charged the government last year. However, the company states that the state enjoys significantly favorable terms as a ‘preference partner’.

According to our information, last year the Belgian mobile ID paid 800,000 euros for all possible services that the company offers in the public sector. Because citizens used the app just under 140 million times last year to log in to a government site, taxpayers amount to 0.006 euros per year. action. “It’s impossible for the government to make it cheaper with its own login app,” says one source.

The essence

  • State Secretary for Digitization Mathieu Michel (MR) announces that the government is working on an alternative to the Itsme login app.
  • Remarkably, for Itsme itself is already 20 percent in the hands of the government.
  • An alternative login app will serve as a backup for Itsme and is part of a larger government project around a digital wallet.
  • Itsme charged the government last year with 800,000 euros for its services.

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