Belgian Mobile ID

It's all about scalability: itsme® app moves business to the next level with a transition to the cloud

An agile, cloud-focused approach expedites modernization and expands market reach in Belgian Mobile ID's enhanced itsme® digital ID application.

  • Solutions in this case
Executive summary

A pioneer in digitalization, Belgian Mobile ID provides safe, streamlined, and smarter identity authentication through its one-of-a-kind itsme® application. To maintain its edge in a multi-faceted and mostly unchartered market, the company transitioned to the cloud as a feasible, future-proof solution to scale with new business prospects.

  • Challenge
  • Approach
  • Results

The Challenge

As it set out to extend the itsme® application into new countries and enhance its functionality in line with evolving third-party protocols, Belgian Mobile ID was roadblocked by its existing on-premises set-up and burdensome development process. For a quicker path towards its business objectives, the company needed a more integrated and scalable approach, moving from a local data center scenario to centralized data in the cloud. And with the application’s unique position at the forefront of an emerging market, the solution needed to be developed on the cutting-edge of technology – without any existing models as reference.

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Belgian Mobile ID is no stranger to innovation, having made a name for itself with its stand-out itsme® digital identity application. The app allows end-users to safely, easily, and reliably confirm their identities; login, approve transactions and sign documents using their mobile phones without the need for physical bank/ID cards and card reader. This time-saving service securely digitalizes ID information and allows users to safely share it, whether to sign documents, make online purchases, or log in to public services, with one single code. At the same time, the process enables the company’s third-party partners to streamline their own processes for more improved usability on their sites or to create new business thanks to a digital and mobile identity. itsme® has today more than 1,8 million users and has already been adopted by the banks, insurance and other financial services, the Belgian government, but also other sectors as health, HR, real estate, telecom operators and accountancy.

Seamlessly connecting the main elements of digital identity (authentication, verified identity data, consent management and document signing) through the itsme® application while serving a wide range of industry verticals, Belgian Mobile ID must continually advance in market expertise, performance, and reach. As such, the pace of evolution needed to continue advancing the application became too rapid for its existing systems to support.

“We started with identification, authentication and consent management and then extended our service to include digital signatures for documents, such as legally binding contracts,” says Belgian Mobile ID COO, Remy Knecht, “Then we looked to go international, expanding our services into other countries. To achieve this with our existing infrastructure, the first step would be to set up data centers for every country, but that’s not scalable.”

In order to widen its application’s reach internationally and enable the company to efficiently grow with each new business opportunity, Belgian Mobile ID needed to transition itsme® from an on-premises infrastructure and classical java development environment to cloud-native technology. Additionally, the application’s bespoke technology in a relatively new market presented the unique challenge of modernizing the technology without a similar digital ID project to use as a baseline.

“One of the biggest challenges, on the technical and business side, is that we are doing things for which there is no reference,” continues Knecht, “It’s a market that didn’t exist – we’re creating it. We’re trying out new things and inventing new solutions. With our innovative services and technology, the solution is even more complex, and it’s difficult to find people who can solve any potential issues during implementation.”

With a clear vision of where the itsme® application would need to go, Belgian Mobile ID needed a technical team who could offer expertise on how to get there. The company looked for a partner with an inclination for collaborating on cutting-edge technology and who could guide its team through the migration.

Knecht explains, “We wanted to move from a classical infrastructure with a local data center to a cloud data center, which is a completely different set up. It also requires a different kind of expertise from a design and development point of view. That’s where Codit came into the picture.”

Close collaboration between development and engineering is part of Codit’s DNA.

Remy Knecht COO at Belgian Mobile ID

The Approach

To clear the path for upcoming business expansions as well as any potential future opportunities, Belgian Mobile ID worked with Codit to modernize the itsme® application using cloud-native technology. Rethinking both the application’s infrastructure and architecture, the Codit team leveraged Azure Cloud and DevOps to extend scalability and multi-layered protection to ensure security.

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A trailblazer in a recently non-existent market, Belgian Mobile ID needed a modernized solution that would grow with its inherently innovative business. After exploring the needs from both a technical and legal point of view, the company wanted to leverage the advantages of a centralized and scalable infrastructure and decided on Microsoft Azure as a cloud provider.

The Codit team built the solution with Azure DevOps, leveraging integrated API management pipelines to migrate into the Azure cloud environment.

“Due to the security and scalability needed for this application, the solution was quite complex,” explains Robbie De Sutter, Azure Architect at Codit, “all the new technologies being created, all the set-ups, are really pushing the limits of the technology that we’re using. This solution is a complete suite using an application gateway to get into the Azure environment, employing the API manager, and utilizing the app service environment, which contains the different components of the itsme® application.”

De Sutter continues, “The migration was one part infrastructure, one part architecture in the sense of software development, making sure that the application components know they are running in the cloud, that they can cope with any temporary issues that might occur in the cloud (such as connection interruptions) and that data is compatible with the cloud.”

After first architecting what the cloud should look like and how it should integrate with the existing on-premises systems, the next phase was to get the application running into the cloud.

During the migration, the Codit team needed to account for specific functions already part of the digital ID processes, such as encrypted information from physical devices, which needed to be translated or migrated into the cloud.

Entrusted with connecting sensitive data and managing personal identities, security in the modernized application was a top priority. With experience in establishing safeguards in modernized solutions, the Codit team built on its expertise to heighten security even further with several layers of protection.

Starting from the foundation, the itsme® application’s app services environments were integrated into a virtual network, using private endpoints rather than public to ensure security. Additionally, the Codit team established security groups on top of the network, implementing internal and external firewalls and fortifying the application with multiple layers.

As part of a strenuous security check, the team performed pen (or penetration) testing on the technical integrations. In these trials, Codit engaged computer hacking specialists, known as white hat hackers, to assess the application’s vulnerability through true-to-life security threats, confirming that the solution’s components would withstand attempted data breaches.

The Results

Thanks to a modernized itsme® application rearchitected for the future, Belgian Mobile ID can now quickly adapt its offering to address evolving needs and seize new business opportunities. The company is already tapping into its application’s newfound scalability, implementing critical technical integrations like improved third-party compatibility and enhanced security, as well as widening its reach into new countries.

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The resulting agile architecture provides a framework on which Belgian Mobile ID can implement faster development in the itsme® application. Equipped with this future-proof solution, the company is reaping the reward of its newly scalable application through several business-expanding projects.

“Before, it was too difficult to modernize or rapidly improve the application with new functionalities because it wasn’t on the cloud,” says Robbie De Sutter, Azure Architect at Codit, “The cloud-native environment has now opened it up to developments like new performance-enhancing technical integrations.”

Many of these technical integrations are already under way and nearly complete, such as ensuring compatibility with the Cloud Signature Consortium standard used by Adobe Sign, resolving complexities with Open ID Connect, and enhancing security for mobile operators.

The modernized solution not only offers facilitated improvements on the application side but has also cleared the path to extend itsme® services to new countries now and in the future.

“We’ve already launched in Luxembourg, offering the complete gamut of our services. And this country is serving as a pilot case for further international roll out,” explains Belgian Mobile ID COO, Remy Knecht, “We took this modernization as an opportunity to not only serve Luxembourg but also to make sure that our system can support any international phone number and identity. With that pre-work already complete in our system, we’re now ready to connect with any additional country’s identity providers and more efficiently incorporate them into our application.”

A word from the client

“Because Codit closely follows the quick-moving evolution of cloud technology, its team offers much more applicable expertise than others who have simply been in the market for 30 years. We need that kind of mindset and perspective to help us execute our ideas on the cutting-edge of technology. ”

Remy Knecht COO at Belgian Mobile ID

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