News Flash: U.S. Drives Towards Digital Licenses

March 12, 2019

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U.S. states on the cusp of accepting driver’s licenses stored on smartphones

About a dozen states are testing digital driver’s licenses that operate on smartphones, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), which represents the bodies that issue such licenses. A report by USA Today says IDEMIA, Gemalto, Canadian Bank Note, Entrust Datacard, GET Group, HID Global and Veridos are among the companies working on such licenses. Meanwhile, Google is exploring how to add support for digital driver’s licenses into the Android operating system for smartphones, according to a report by xda.developers.com

The AAMVA hopes to issue standards to enable interoperability in the U.S. and Canada in about six months, according to USA Today, which says Louisiana has already given the green light to its digital driver’s license, the LA Wallet, developed by a company called Envoc. Once they have downloaded the app, Louisiana residents can use it for traffic stops or police checkpoints, as well as to verify their age when buying alcohol or tobacco.  But the LA Wallet is not yet accepted at airport security and in other states.

Digitisation “reduces dramatically the chances that the driver’s license is a counterfeit document and (verifies) that it belongs to you,” said Ian Grossman, a vice president at the AAMVA, adding that a digital license can be updated quickly with a new address or other changes. If the citizen’s phone is lost or stolen, the license can be wiped remotely before a new digital version is issued.

The USA Today report also notes that digitisation enables consumers to limit the information that is shared to that necessary for the transaction in hand. If a driver is pulled over by law enforcement, they could transmit their credentials wirelessly, via Bluetooth Low Energy or NFC, to the officer, allowing the driver to remain in possession of the phone.

For more information, please see the USA Today article and the xda-developers.com report.

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