From dark ages to digital: say goodbye to frequent visits to Czech government offices

A new banking identification system for the Czech Republic is making it possible to access over 100 services online.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 11.01.2021 13:00 (updated on 11.01.2021)

Say goodbye to time-consuming visits to Czech government offices; a new digital identity system will allow those with a Czech bank account to access a number of government and private services from their online banking portal.

The new banking identification system let you file taxes and access over 130 services such as getting an extract from the criminal registry or checking on the status of a driver’s license and vehicle registration. Soon, people should be able to apply for driver’s license online as well. Once a user has properly confirmed their banking identity, documents can be signed electronically.

Banks must go through an accreditation process before they can offer the banking identification system. The Czech Ministry of Interior, which oversees the banking sector, will determine whether the bank meets the set requirements.

“Thanks to the involvement of banks, there will be a significant increase in the number of users of the state’s electronic services [in 2021]. That's great news; our systems are ready for this growth,” Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) said when approval was granted to ČSOB.

The banking identity service will be available to all bank clients who have internet or mobile banking, if their bank is involved in the project, Josef Donát from the law firm Rowan Legal told new server Seznam.cz. Rowan Legal has been hired by the Czech Banking Association (ČBA) to manage the project.

From an online banking portal people will be able to access the Citizen Portal (Portálu občana), the My Tax (Moje daně) portal, a number of government offices, some health insurance companies, and the real estate cadastre. In March, people will be able to participate in the census online.

It will also be possible to communicate electronically with the divisions of Labor and Social Affairs Ministry to apply for a social benefits or to register with the Labor Office.

The system can also be used to verify identity for online shopping and other private services. Utility providers, mobile operators, and other private entities should be joining the system during the year. Several online betting and payment companies are already participating. Private entities will have to pay banks to access the service.

Československá obchodní banka (ČSOB) and Česká spořitelna are the first two banks to implement the system and have already made it available to customers. ČSOB received approval from the Interior Ministry on Oct. 23, 2020, and Česká spořitelna on Dec. 4, 2020. Komerční banka received approval at the end of December, and is expected to launch the service sometime in January. Other major banks are expected to join throughout the year.

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The new system will require two-factor identification plus either a fingerprint or facial recognition scan. The service does not cost anything extra. The bank will then be able to confirm the  user’s identity to a third party, such as a government portal or an e-business, upon request and with the client’s consent.

The government or private entity contacted via the banking identification system will only receive confirmation of the client’s identity. No personal information will be transmitted. Banks also will not receive information from the government agency or private company, beyond what is in the identity registers.