By now, most of you have either used your smart phone to get onto a flight or seen others do so. Ticketless flying is becoming the mainstream way to travel, and it is alleviating a lot of travel stress. After all, you probably always know just where you keep your phone, but how incredibly easy is it to misplace those annoying paper tickets? They never seem to be where you thought you put them.
Now, one company wants to take ticketless traveling a step further. De La Rue is working on a digital passport that you can keep on your smart phone. The idea is to get through air travel and immigration without needing any sort of paper documents at all. Your ticket, your visas, your passport – everything could be stored safely on your phone. (Just make sure your battery doesn’t die from playing too much Solitaire during your international flight!)
The benefits are clear: having your passport with you on your phone at all times will make it much harder for you to lose and help ease the stress of travel, particularly for frequent international flyers. But there are also a lot of potential downsides. The company itself admits that there are a number of security factors that need to be taken into consideration before a digital passport could ever become mainstream.
Just think of all the data breaches that we hear about on a regular basis. If major companies can lose thousands of customers’ credit card information, just imagine the havoc that would occur if the same thing happened with passports.
It’s pretty clear that a digital passport won’t be happening in the next few years, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t ever happen. De La Rue points out that services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Venmo have found ways to make transactions through mobile phones pretty safe. If we can use our phones to transfer money around, why not use them to store our identification?
If and when digital passports become a reality, there will also be the challenge of getting governments around the world to accept them as a valid form of ID. That said, the whole world is going digital, so we will be curious to see what De La Rue comes up with and just how quickly they can bring their service to market.
In the meantime, if you need to apply for a passport, we’re still your people. Contact the Swift team to learn more about how to get a passport or visa in a hurry.