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TSA plans mDL acceptance for airports, starting with Apple

Secure Technology Alliance takes stock of growing US adoption
TSA plans mDL acceptance for airports, starting with Apple

The growing adoption of mobile driver’s license (mDL) technologies across the U.S. is about to accelerate, attendees of a new workshop organized by Secure Technology Alliance in Houston, Texas heard.

Held in conjunction with an American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and ISO-led regional mDL testing event, the workshop brought together experts in digital identity, authentication, and standards development.

The STA says mDLs are gaining traction in at least 30 U.S. states, slowly replacing traditional physical driver’s licenses, and the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) involvement in and support for these projects was confirmed.

“Smartphones carry everything, from payment cards to precious photos,” explains Christine Nizer, administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and chair of the AAMVA International Board of Directors.

“It is only natural that the devices are becoming a platform for storing identity credentials too.”

During the Secure Technology Alliance workshop, the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG) also highlighted the potential safety benefits of mDL for age-based purchases.

In addition, during a panel about early mDL adoption, TSA shared plans to begin accepting mDL use in airports at two state locations via Apple Wallet starting February (and two more in March) of next year.

The pilot will reportedly build on Apple’s plan of enabling iPhone and Apple Watch users to store their driver’s license and state ID in the Wallet app.

The goal will be to simplify the ID verification process to allow travelers to get through security lines faster.

Users will be able to tap their iPhone or Apple Watch with Apple Wallet on a QR scanner, to check both their boarding pass and digital ID and thus remove the need to use physical IDs.

Apple Wallets began integrating with state-issued mDLs earlier this year, with Arizona and Georgia first on the list.

Preparations are underway at the TSA to begin its phased mDL rollout, with Apple Wallet integration as its first step. The STA says the integration will allow people to begin using their mDL in their Wallet app at select security checkpoints in participating airports.

As for pilots already deployed across the U.S. the states of Utah, Maryland, Virginia and Louisiana are at the forefront of mDL adoption.

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