Apple‘s iOS 6 announcement was met with fanfare, especially over its new app Passbook. Passbook is a digital wallet where you can store loyalty cards, movie and concert tickets, and boarding passes.
While some developers view this as Apple’s gateway into mobile payments, others aren’t so eager to hop on that bandwagon. Regardless of where you stand on mobile payments, Passbook is going to revolutionize digital identification.
The app is advertised as the simplest way to get all of your passes in one place. The idea behind it is that apps are already integrating these scannable passes, including a payment app from Starbucks and Fandango’s movie ticket scanning app.
By using “pass,” Apple isn’t limiting itself to tickets or payments. Instead, anything that can get scanned could become a part of Passbook – including government-issued identification.
Think that the paper-happy government won’t be down with this? Think again. The TSA has been scanning boarding passes and IDs at Washington Dulles International Airport as part of a pilot program. Through the use of Credential Authentication Technology – Boarding Pass Scanning Systems (CAT-BPSS), TSA agents are able to match personal information on boarding passes with government-issued IDs.
This process is more efficient than having an agent check the ID visually with a light and manually circling the matched information on the boarding pass. It also provides government officials with the opportunity to collect and store massive datasets on travelers.
Bouncers at nightclubs are already using ID scanners to ensure that patrons are at least 21 years old. Scanners provide a layer of security that thwart people with fake IDs entering the establishment. “When you use machines to authenticate documents, you minimize the room for error,” explained security consultant Kiersten Todt Coon, president and CEO of Liberty Group Ventures LLC.
Anyone that’s ever been to the DMV to obtain or renew a driver’s license knows how inefficient the government identification system is. Citizens must present four forms of ID, such as a social security card, birth certificate, passport, and so on.
All of these items are physical evidence that you are who you say you are. If you’re unable to provide the proper identification, the burden of collecting new versions of these documents from various government agencies falls on you, not the DMV.
Even police officers performing routine traffic stops could benefit from digital verification. Instead of having to walk the license back to their vehicle and call in the information to the dispatcher, he or she could just scan the ID and free up the dispatcher to handle emergency calls, for example.
It could take years before the government starts to explore the feasibility of allowing citizens to store their driver’s licenses digitally in Apple’s Passbook, but it’s not far fetched to think that some day it might be possible.
Image courtesy of the United States Air Force.