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Forget Passport Booklets: De La Rue Developing Technology That Puts Passport Into Smartphone

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Physical passports could become a thing of the past as De La Rue, a British banknote manufacturer, has begun the development of a paperless technology for this travel document.

As physical wallets have found their way onto digital platforms, like Apple Pay and Google wallet, it doesn't come as a surprise that the next step would involve producing paperless passports.

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of De La Rue, told The Times that the company has begun its research on paperless passports. The idea is to abolish the need for passengers to carry around physical documents.

Gone will be the days when travelers suffer an anxiety attack as they scramble looking for that pesky little booklet in their luggage while others wait in line for their turn at the check-in window. Those who want to travel will only need a smartphone containing their digital identifications. This could be a more efficient way, given nowadays, people carry around their phones all the time.

The technology will take a couple of years to finally reach the final stage of research and before a global release.

However, as early as now, experts have warned that such a passport comes with great security risks. Identity theft has been a constant problem faced worldwide, despite security measures taken to protect physical passports. More so, an online passport is said to be more at risk, because everything on the Internet seems to be easily accessible by capable hands.

"Digital passports on your phone will require new hardware on the device in order to securely store the electronic passport so it cannot be copied from the phone," says David Jevans of Proofpoint, a security company. "It will also have to be communicated wirelessly to passport readers, because doing it on-screen like an airline ticket QR code can be copied or spoofed."

Governments will also have to agree to use the technology and adapt more concrete laws regarding online transactions.

De La Rue isn't the first innovator in paperless documents as Australia has been researching cloud passports. Essentially, people's identifications will be stored in the cloud and can be accessed through the airport's electronic facilities. This joint project with New Zealand is done in hopes of attaining efficient management of their respective travel industries.

Photo: Ryan Maple | Flickr

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