[Money20/20] America May Soon Have a Mobile National ID, with IDEMIA’s Help

Jenny Openshaw, SVP Sales & Sales Operations, IDEMIA (left) and Megan Heinze, President, North America Financial Institutions, IDEMIA, during the panel ‘Can Secure & Private Digital ID Still Allow us to Enjoy Life?’ at Money20/20.

IDEMIA got a big share of the spotlight on the first day of Money20/20, and took the opportunity to discuss its escalating efforts in the pioneering area of mobile drivers licenses in the US.

The spotlight was shared with identity consultant Bianca Lopes, who moderated a discussion with IDEMIA sales SVP Jenny Openshaw, and the company’s North American financial institutions head, Megan Heinze. With Openshaw noting that in the US, drivers’ licenses are essentially “the de facto national ID”, the two IDEMIA execs explained that IDEMIA is currently working with 38 state governments on their drivers’ license programs, and that a significant part of these efforts entails the Mobile Driver License, or MDL, concept.

The idea is not simply to create virtual reproductions of physical drivers’ licenses, but to use biometric technology to make these enhanced digital IDs. As the IDEMIA executives explained, the app uses facial recognition to identify its user – a convenient mechanism, given that DMVs have the profile photos of all their registered drivers in their databases. It converts this facial data into a biometric template that is then stored in the Secure Element of the user’s phone. And with a liveness detection component built in, the app can effectively prevent spoofing attempts from would-be fraudsters.

That all allows for a highly secure digital credential that can be used not just to confirm one’s identity to a police officer or a car rental company, but to access new online services, such as remotely opening an account with a utility provider, or even filing your taxes – an actual application that is already being trialed in collaboration with the state of Alabama.

It’s a groundbreaking concept, and it’s going to take some effort to establish the regulatory infrastructure to support it widely. But Heinze and Openshaw emphasized IDEMIA’s efforts to make this a federated solution, and noted that multiple government agencies are now actively working on establishing standards for mobile ID. So America’s “de facto national ID” may soon go mobile.

October 22, 2018 – by Alex Perala