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Fintech, mDLs and digital ID could be Apple’s ticket to Microsoft-like universality

Fintech, mDLs and digital ID could be Apple’s ticket to Microsoft-like universality
 

A fintech trade journal has connected some dots and more patents to define where Apple stands with U.S. digital ID documents. The emerging picture seems to indicate that it will not go the way of low-volume, high-cost and higher-margin hardware business.

Decades ago, Microsoft realized that “good enough for government work” is an excellent business model. Now it is Apple poking its nose under the federal government’s budgetary tent.

That might be a bit unfair. Microsoft has monumentally dominated government purchases of computer hardware and software for forever. If Macs were put on every desk at the federal government’s magazine, Public Roads, the sales would move the needle for Apple.

And, as the Apple article in Fintech Business Weekly notes, the California-based consumer electronics firm has some interesting and even surprising contracts. Its laptops were used to plan bombing runs in Iraq. Admittedly, there must be a better example of Apple’s government work. And there is.

Apple executives in the 2010s noted the growing acceptance of digital documents and contactless transactions. Their most visible answer has been its work with states and the Department of Homeland Security.

Programmers are creating the foundation for mobile driving licenses from all 50 states that can also be used to get through airport security screenings.

According to reporting by Fintech Business Weekly, Apple is working with DHS to evaluate digital ID technology. If the research eventually results in deliverables, look for systems that might be a bit easier to use in a busy airport and for those systems to give Apple an early foothold in the promising government mobile and security technology arena.

Google has in no way ceded this battle. And there are non-Big Tech players involved, like GET Group North America.

But Apple entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Transportation Security Administration to work on mDLs in 2019, Fintech Business Weekly has discovered. The results of that collaboration could be used in assessments of which mDLs the TSA accepts.

The agreement gave Apple the first crack at piloting mDL use in airports, and a TSA patent has been since reassigned to the company, as 9To5Mac points out.

Outside of airports, Apple’s work on mobile driving licenses is early in the industry and it could be big. Apple software could become the universal interface with bureaucracy the way Windows became the government’s back-office computing go-to.

And it will play a growing role in know your customer, too.

Dominance by Apple in KYC, mobile driving licenses and DHS identity verification is far from guaranteed. It is one of the richest companies in the world for its marketing acumen and knowing when to get into a new device market, however.

There might be little to market here for Apple, but shareholders have to be salivating at the thought of owning part of a cool-maker and a near-universal presence in people’s minds.

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