News Flash: Mobile Passport Pilot Underway

The World Economic Forum begins tests of digital passports stored on mobile phones

Will digital passports stored in mobile phones replace physical documents? The World Economic Forum has begun testing its proposed Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) scheme by enabling passengers enrolled in a pilot project to travel between Canada and the Netherlands using their mobile phone instead of a traditional passport.

The World Economic Forum says the KTDI is designed to speed up the flow of passengers through airports and reduce the risk of cross-border identity fraud. “By 2030, international air arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion passengers, up 50% from 2016,” notes Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility at the World Economic Forum. “Under today’s systems, airports cannot keep up with this growth. This project offers a solution. By using an interoperable digital identity and other KTDI technologies, we are offering travellers a holistic answer to secure and seamless travel.”

The initiative envisions that passengers arriving at participating airports will already have their identity data encrypted and stored on their mobile phone, instead of on a passport microchip. If the individual gives their consent, the relevant information would be sent to airlines and border authorities before the traveller reaches the airport, which would then use biometric technology – such as fingerprinting or facial recognition – to check the passenger has the correct digital ID.  Trials of the KTDI programme will run throughout 2019, as a precursor to the first digitally-documented end-to-end journeys in 2020.

If digital passports are to be widely used, the World Economic Forum says governments, technology providers, the aviation industry, border authorities and others will need to work together to establish global security and data protection standards.

For more information, please see the World Economic Forum blog post.