UK travellers could soon be flying without the need for a physical passport as trials for digital documents are underway. One expert has predicted they could be introduced in as little as two years in a move that will reduce friction at borders and reduce waiting times.
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Chris Briggs, senior vice president of Identity at Mitek, said he believes airport waiting times will be drastically cut but the UK still needs to pass some legislation and get the public on side, as per Fintech Finance News:
Enacting legislation that will drive identity-linked functionality and deliver everyday utility for the general public, such as signing documents, proving eligibility and seamless travel, will be the catalyst for change.
The travel expert also said physical visas and lengthy passport renewals would become obsolete as virtual documents are stored on battery-free devices like Apple AirTags. Trials of the technology are already underway with successful testing happening between Toronto Airport in Canada and the Netherlands’ Schipol Airport.
The changes have not been popular with everyone though as questions of privacy and how personal data is being used has become a big concern for many.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Conservative leader William Hague recently announced their support for the initiative, which would encompass people’s passports, driving licences, tax details and more.
However, Silkie Carlo, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, called the proposals one of the ‘biggest assaults on privacy ever seen in the UK’, as per The Mirror.
Briggs concedes whilst the technology is not perfect yet, software and hardware is already in use in border control trials in the US and Germany and has been very effective. The UK's Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is currently processing legislation for digital IDs and the bill has already had its first reading in Parliament.
Benefits will also include increased identity security as forgeries will be much more difficult. The IDs are likely to hold all of a person’s significant personal information ‘like your address, or biometric information, like a fingerprint or face scan’, the DSIT has said, and can also be used for things like opening bank accounts.
Briggs anticipates that the same tech will be operating in the UK within two to three years, which will result in waiting times in airports being halved. Digital passports will also be renewable online, cutting out waiting times, which currently stand at 10 weeks, as per The Mirror:
In general you are seeing dramatic decreases in the amount of people that are required, as well as the amount of time that it takes to run people through those lines, which increases customer satisfaction as well.
- Fintech Finance News 'Fintech Experts Discuss The Idea of A UK Digital ID'
- The Mirror 'Travel expert says Brits will soon no longer need paper passports at airports'