February 2020 – Following their introduction in 2009, Data Boxes (in Czech: “datové schránky”) represented the Czech state’s only major foray into the world of e-government services. Another example are ID cards containing an electronic chip, which serve as the only available state-approved means of electronic identification. However, according to Czech Ministry of the Interior data, only a fraction of ID card holders has activated the electronic identification functionality of their IDs, with more widescale use hindered by users needing a special card reader and software for formal communication with public authorities.

With a view to providing easier and more convenient access to public administration systems and other regulated services, the Czech Parliament has adopted legislation facilitating the introduction of so-called “Bank ID” in the country. This would enable the more than five million internet banking users in the Czech Republic to utilise existing bank identity authentication tools to also gain verified access to public administration electronic systems.

Consequently, bank customers will be able to use a familiar high security bank authentication interface to access public administration portals in order to file tax returns, apply for new driving licences, or even obtain statements of social security contributions. Businesses are also set to benefit from Bank ID – for example online gambling site operators verifying the identity of users, or online stores selling age-restricted products.

Banks would also gain access to information recorded in public administration registers with the aim of assisting the identity verification process and enabling better fulfilment of obligations under anti-money laundering legislation.

Participation in Bank ID will be voluntary for banks. Use of the system will be provided free of charge for customers, and no costs will be borne by the Czech state. However, banks will be entitled to charge fees to businesses for the provision of customer authentication services.

The legislation has already been passed by the Czech Parliament, and will come into force on 1 January 2021.