Citizens in eleven cities in Belgium are trialing electronic identity cards, which on the outside resemble a credit card. If the six month trial is successful cards will be issued to the remainder of the ten million population of the country and everyone over the age of twelve will have a smart card with multiple applications.The card, which uses Sun Microsystem Java technology, provides the traditional functions of an identity card such as name, photo, date of birth. Future applications include payments and reservations for events. It is also expected that card holders will be able to put their own electronic signature to digital documents such as declarations or application forms, which will have the same value and legal status as the documents that are nowadays signed by hand.
The benefit to the Belgium Government will be a secure electronic way to access all eGovernment applications. The technology will also allow services and applications to be modified as the user’s needs change and e-Government develops, without incurring additional costs of replacing cards. The electronic identity cards are seen as crucial in the government’s quest for a simplified administration.