The Importance of Contactless ID in a Post-COVID World

David Kelts, Director of Product Development, Mobile Identity, GET Group North America

As the world emerges from the global COVID-19 shutdown and adjusts to an uncharted “new normal”, all forms of contactless transactions are becoming increasingly necessary. Economies are reopening but the threat of COVID-19 resurging is forcing companies to continuously evolve and adapt. While convenience and fraud protection were previously driving demand[i] for high-assurance mobile ID technology and online identity[ii], the potential advantages[iii] of contactless ID now include health[iv] and personal safety[v].

To initially stop the transmission of COVID-19, states shut down the majority of their economies and required extreme new protocols for essential transactions. Now, as governments proceed with phased plans for safely regaining normalcy while maintaining physical distance, adopting contactless ID –presenting identity without handing over a card from your pocket[vi] — can limit the risk of virus transmission between ID verifiers (such as law enforcement officers, TSA Agents, airlines[vii], or retailers[viii]) and the card holder.  As government leaders continue to invest in ways to keep citizens safe, contactless ID should become a new standard, in conjunction with mask-wearing policies and recommending at least six feet of distance.

Government ID Issuers have a new role to play in protecting our society

To improve health and safety, retailers are moving age-based purchases to online delivery, checking ID through the front door glass, and offering drop-and-go delivery. The difficulty with this is that authenticating the ID and visually verifying the identity of the card holder is obscured by distance and the drop in accuracy is sharp. Fortunately, technology for contactless ID exists now[ix] and there is a better way to perform ID checking[x]. With a mobile driver’s license (mDL)[xi], we have the ability to distance these transactions, similarly to what has previously been done by taking payments to contactless “Tap & Go”.

While the benefits of expediting widespread adoption of contactless ID are increasingly apparent post-COVID, it is also important to do it in a safe and secure way that protects against fraud and identity theft and safeguards citizen privacy[xii]. Therefore, an mDL[xiii] used in contactless transactions cannot simply be a photo or mock-up of a license on a phone. Instead, an ISO 18013–5-compliant mDL creates the possibility of trustworthy, official, government-issued mDLs and IDs on our mobile phones. The government issuer e-signs the data and puts it under the control of the mDL holder (the citizen), to be used via electronic transfer—just like payment cards.  Unlike with physical identity documents, the mDL holder consents to share only the personal information that is relevant to the transaction.  The verifier (shops, restaurants, rental counters and everyone that relies on government ID) can verify eSignatures to receive only the data they need without ever physically handling the card holder’s mobile device or having to get close enough to check a physical ID card.

Government IDs can be securely issued to our mobile phones for us to use

In conclusion, contactless payment and ID are more necessary than ever and governments should adopt contactless ID for the public’s safety by rolling out mobile ID technology.  With government-issued mDLs, the possibilities of improving the safety, health, security, and privacy of our ID-proofing transactions are numerous.  The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown all of us how necessary and important this is.

Find out  how GET Group North America can support the contactless ID technology needs of both identity document issuers and verifiers here.






[vi] Item #7









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