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NSW reaches 3 million mobile driver’s licenses amid advancing government digital ID


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From mobile driver’s licenses in Australia and Saudi Arabia to digital ID systems to facilitate online processes in Austria, Germany, Estonia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Azerbaijan, governments around the world are making progress digitizing credentials.

The Australian State of New South Wales has reached 3 million registrations of its mobile driver’s license within the Service NSW app, which is 53 percent of all license holders, ZDNet reports.

The state launched its digital driver’s licenses to public availability in late-2019, and it was granted the same legal status as a physical driver’s license last September, though license-holders are encouraged to carry their physical license as a backup, and efforts to extend its use beyond police and licensed venues have struggled. The DDL surpassed 30 percent of NSW drivers last October.

NSW Minister for Digital Victor Dominello said the milestone is an indication of public willingness to move beyond physical wallets.

The Service NSW app has been downloaded by 5 million people in total.

Saudi Arabia launches mDL

A digital driver’s license has also been launched in Saudi Arabia, through a partnership between the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority and the Interior Ministry, along with a digital version of the Muqeem resident ID, Arab News reports.

The mDL is available through the Interior Ministry’s Absher Individuals and Tawakkalna apps. An offline version is available for download, and ID details can be viewed through a QR code.

Austria and Germany each move towards national digital ID

A pilot of Austria’s digital ID is launching in several cities under a pilot by the Federal Ministry for Digitization and Business Location that includes 200 different applications, according to Mayor of Europe.

Registration for the ID Austria credential requires an onboarding process with fingerprint or face biometrics through a smartphone, and the user must install the ‘Digitales Amt’ or ‘Handy-Signature’ app. The mobile phone-based digital ID can be used for electronic signatures and access to online applications, and citizens using it for civil applications will be given a 40 percent discount on fees.

Lower Austrian capital St. Pölten is among the cities the digital ID is being piloted in, but only to citizens applying for a new passport who do not opt out. The test is scheduled to conclude in autumn of 2021, followed by general availability.

An eventual expansion to private sector use is planned.

The Bundestag, meanwhile, has approved the introduction of a German national digital ID system allowing people to prove their identity through a mobile device for a range of applications, including banking and online shopping. The new law allows Germans to scan the chip in their physical ID document as part of a two-factor authentication process, along with a six-digit PIN.

Scannable ID documents issued in Germany include national identity cards, digital (eID) cards and electronic residence permits, though the notice posted by the Bundestag notes that not all mobile devices will be able to scan them.

Estonian e-residency centers launched

Five issuance centers for digital ID cards for Estonian e-residency have been launched by BLS International to allow people around the world to launch digital businesses in the country, United News of India reports.

The new centers are located in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Brazil and South Africa, and will charge an average application fee of €18 (roughly US$22), with higher fees for additional services.

E-residents of Estonia can apply for business bank accounts and credit cards, declare taxes and sign documents digitally, in addition to opening an online business. The system had brought in around $35 million in direct tax revenues since its launch in 2014, as of July 2020.

Pakistan eases inheritance with biometrics

Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has launched a system for Pakistani ex-patriots to obtain documentation for inheritance through biometric verification, according to an announcement from the country’s High Commission in London and reported by the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Legal heirs can go through a five-step process operated by NADRA’s Succession Facilitation Units, avoiding what had often been a lengthy procedure involving the country’s court system, according to the report.

Malaysia launches online registration portal, NDI reaches 30M

The National Registration Department (JPN) of Malaysia has launched an online system known as JPN eServices to enable people to register births, retrieve birth records, apply for MyKad and register marriage, among other services.

The Edge Markets reports that the country had signed up 30 million people for its National Digital Identity initiative as of March, as the country digitizes a growing range of services.

“The Digital ID would serve as a Verifiable Platform of Trust that would benefit the private and public sectors for identification purposes when online digital transactions are performed,” explained Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

Azerbaijan launches online biometric verification

Azerbaijan’s government has signed an agreement with AzPul LLC, a non-bank credit organization, to identify clients online with biometrics to secure small loans, AzerNews writes.

The agreement with the institution was signed by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies’ Data Processing Center. A Ministry announcement noted face biometrics will be used to generate an electronic signature to secure digital transactions.

The Ministry also emphasized the efficiency and security of the automated processes, and said the proposed solution can be used in both the public and private sectors.

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