The Pocket Singularity: the Emergence of a Phone-ID Union

We’re doing more and more things with our smartphones.  With Apple Pay and Google Wallet, the traditional leather wallet already seems antiquated when stacked against the convenience of a mobile payment solution. So why not use them to store our driver’s license?

Motorists in Iowa may be among the first in the nation to be able to whip out their smartphones to access their licenses at traffic stops.  The Iowa Department of Transportation is developing a smartphone app that would allow drivers to access a digitally encoded license that would take the place of the conventional plastic ID card.

“It’s on your cellphone so you can carry it around with you,” Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino says..

“From a law enforcement perspective I really don’t see any advantages,” says Sgt. Scott Bright with the Iowa State Patrol. “The first thing I thought about is if we’re making a traffic stop, is that violator looking for their cellphone before we stop the car.”

Bright also doubts that officers could scan the information from a digital license without carrying the cellphone back to the squad car.  However, when paired with a mobile ID scanning solution, such as the VeriScan SL42 package, the ID would be able to be scanned in the field, eliminating many privacy concerns.

Computer security experts say the digital license could be more secure than a plastic license you might lose or leave lying around. But that doesn’t mean there’s any real need for this yet.

So with all the objections, what’s the point of a digital driver’s license? Andrea Henry at the Iowa DOT concedes there isn’t exactly a clamor yet for this innovation.

“However, we do know that customers are demanding services through their mobile devices more and more. It’s really about just keeping up with technology,” Henry says.

MorphoTrust USA, the technology company developing the app, is pushing that concept to other motor vehicle departments around the country. Jenny Openshaw of MorphoTrust USA says customers do want to be able to renew their driver’s licenses online and sees this as the next logical step.

“I think that the digital driver’s license doesn’t so much solve a problem as it fulfills a need and a desire on the part of the American consumer to have everything that is important to us in electronic form and on the mobile device of our choice. People are more likely to leave their wallet at home these days than their cellphone,” Openshaw says.

This process of wallet digitization is happening.  People demand convenience, ease of access, and efficiency.  It is only a matter of time before the digital revolution takes the driver’s license as well. And officials must be ready.

At IDScan.net we regularly work with state police forces on mobile scanning solutions.  As we move into the age of the digital ID, contact us to maintain compliance and compatibility.