Germany: Nobody should have to go to the office just to collect a PINccc

February 1, 2024

Bitkom calls for the immediate reintroduction of mailing by letter

Going to the office just to reset a PIN or collect a new one? – Since the end of last year, the PIN for the online function of the ID card has no longer been sent by letter. Instead, you have to make your way to the registration office again and collect your PIN there. This affects anyone who wants to activate the digital functions or has simply forgotten their PIN. The digital association Bitkom demands that both the initial sending of a PIN for the subsequent activation of the online ID function and the resetting must be possible again without having to go to the office. Otherwise, the use of the associated electronic identity function would effectively stagnate at its current level. This so-called “eID” plays a key role in many processes that previously required a handwritten signature. Sending documents by letter had fallen victim to a cost-cutting measure by the German government. Bitkom drew attention to this in a statement today. “Digital identities are already an important way for banks and fintechs, among others, to open accounts or securities accounts – and they will continue to gain in importance. In order for the eID of the ID card to be used for online identification with government agencies, it must be user-friendly,” says Susanne Dehmel, member of the Bitkom Executive Board. “The German government should enable PIN resets by letter again, regardless of the current pressure to save money.”

Until the end of last year, it was possible to reset the PIN for the eID simply and conveniently by letter. For cost reasons, this option was discontinued at the turn of the year as part of the budget cuts, meaning that citizens have to go to the citizens’ office in person for a new PIN if they have forgotten it or did not request it when their ID card was issued. In a survey of 1,007 people aged 18 and over last autumn, 53 percent of eID users stated that they had forgotten their ID card PIN at least once. At the same time, 61 per cent would like to use the eID function more often. Dehmel: “The German government is jeopardising the success of a central project of its digital policy with this citizen-unfriendly cost-cutting decision.”

In addition to reactivating the eID PIN reset letter in the short term, Bitkom also proposes offering other solutions in future and creating a corresponding legal framework for them. These could range from the integration of local companies and the use of reference identities from the house bank to video identification procedures.

Methodological note: The information is based on a survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital association Bitkom. It surveyed 1,007 people aged 18 and over in Germany, including 115 users of the eID function of the ID card. The survey is representative.

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