From physical to digital: Will paper identity documents become a thing of the past?

From physical to digital: Will paper identity documents become a thing of the past? The journey to complete and global digitalization of identity processes is complex – but it’s already started.

Imagine a world without physical identity documents. How would it work? How would you ensure maximum availability and reliability? What sort of security systems need to be working behind the scenes to prevent spoofing? Veridos develops sophisticated ID ecosystems built for the digital future.

From physical to digital

Multiple countries around the world have already been making progress on digital identity documents. While full reliance on digital identity systems is still a little way off, partially digitalized documents designed to work alongside analog systems are already in use. Examples already exist of national identity cards, driver’s licenses, passports and other travel documents that contain biometric chips. These small chips can be read in seconds and contain all the relevant data needed to identify their holder.

In contrast to conventional physical identity documents, these partially digitalized hybrid documents allow easy transmission of relevant data via the internet – as everything is already digital. These provide the essential basis for efficient and automated eGovernment systems.

But the digitalization of official documents is not without its risks. A key concern raised by states considering adopting such a system is the fear that an unauthorized third party could penetrate the system to access personal information.

 

Groundbreaking international security standards

Biometric chips incorporate Basic Access Control (BAC), which ensures data such as the individual’s name and face is encrypted between the electronic ID and reader ¬¬– but can still be accessed by the authorized party without problems. Extended Access Control (EAC) expands on BAC to provide an additional layer of security that protects this sensitive data.

The BAC and EAC systems arrange a handshake between the chip’s microprocessor and the reader to ensure only authenticated, authorized parties can access the data. This is achieved using a public key infrastructure (PKI), which issues, distributes and verifies the appropriate digital certificates.

Taking security seriously

But this is just the start. As a renowned identity solutions provider, Veridos has built its entire business around trust. That’s why Veridos takes such special care to stay three steps ahead of forgers and organized cybercriminals.

Forgers and cybercriminals are continuously developing new and more intricate strategies of attack. Aware that the convenience of digital identity systems is lost the moment these are compromised, Veridos invests heavily in enhancing and developing new advanced physical and digital security features and technologies. This work is ongoing, involving a continuous flow of new and updated digital features throughout the document’s lifetime. This ensures criminals can never find their way in.

 

The necessity of eGovernment

Now more than ever, citizens and residents need to be able to access government services remotely.

The global COVID-19 restrictions, the health crisis itself, and the associated economic consequences have shown us how people depend on their governments for assistance in times of crisis. But in-person visits where identities are validated face to face are not always practical.

eGovernment services promise to improve accessibility and efficiency, while minimizing risk to staff and the public during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about a lot of things in society. Everything is becoming more digital – and efficient eGovernment systems must be part of that.

 

The full digitalization of identity documents is a logical priority – a matter of fundamental public interest

 

Moving towards digital identities and eGovernment

Moving towards digital identity systems while ensuring maximum security and reliability is a complex task, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

In fact, it’s already been done: In 2018, the Republic of Kosovo worked with Veridos to implement the world’s first nationwide mobile driver’s license. If requested, drivers can now present a QR code on their smartphone, generated directly by Kosovo’s secure backend system. This QR code allows an authorized official to validate their license and identity via a protected SSL connection.

 

A question of time

As impressive and promising as the Republic of Kosovo’s mobile driver’s license project is, it’s clear we will still be dealing with physical documents for some time.

The challenge lies not so much in digitalizing these documents and the not inconsiderable task of promoting widespread adoption, but developing the full digital ecosystem to support every aspect of their intended functionality.
But Veridos is proud to be embracing all these challenges. While the age of completely digital identities may not yet be upon us, the steady pace of innovation will ensure it comes sooner than we think.

Identity documents

Using a secure digital platform allows citizens to access eGovernment services, in addition, to use their identity documents digitally. Imagine a citizen's passport is about to expire. She can request a new one via the app securely from her home or on the go.

Watch how that's possible with VeriGO® TrueID - mobile face authentication for eGovernment services:

Inspired by the idea of digital documents? Got another idea you’d like to discuss?

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Example: ordering a new passport with VeriGO® TrueID

 

The digitalization of identity documents is a logical priority – a matter of fundamental public interest.

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