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South Korea launches mobile driver’s license trial, plans mid-year general availability

South Korea launches mobile driver’s license trial, plans mid-year general availability

South Korea has introduced its mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) with a trial version carrying the same legal status as the physical ID credential, but stored in a mobile phone app, Yonhap News reports.

The digital ID is the first mobile credential released in the country for the general population, though Yonhap notes there are several ID cards that have been digitized for schools, businesses, and public officials.

The trial version with full legal status was announced by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the National Police Agency, and will be issued at 14 driving test centers and police stations. Issuance is not restricted to residents of the areas where the centers are located, however.

The government plans for the mDLs to be made available to all Koreans starting in July. They can legally be used for ID at public and financial institutions, car rental and ride-sharing services, airports, hospitals passenger terminals and hospitality sector businesses, and for age verification at convenience stores and liquor stores. Not all of these businesses are currently ready to accept mDLs, however, according to the report.

The mDLs are built to enable limited disclosures of personal information, and are also intended to facilitate online transactions. The credentials include QR codes for scanning and a time display that changes in real-time to prevent counterfeiting.

mDL holders who lose their mobile device storing the credential can lock it by reporting the loss.

Usage history is stored only on the individual’s smartphone, and not transmitted to a central server, authorities say.

The mDLs are issued following face-to-face verification, Yonhap reports, but the outlet also publishes a government graphic on the issuance process which appears to depict the use of selfie biometrics in one of the final steps. The report notes that the user scans the IC chip of their physical driver’s license with their smartphone, and then performs identity verification.

mDLs are currently in development in many countries around the world, with recent developments in the U.S. and Czech Republic.

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