US state testing driving licence app

US drivers in Iowa are a step closer to being able to have their driving licence on their smartphones, as a mobile version of the state-issued licences are first tested by government employees.

Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) employees are the first in the nation to use the MorphoTrust mobile driver license (mDL) software as part of a new pilot announced today by MorphoTrust USA (Safran).

MorphoTrust, the identity solutions provider to more than 80% of US motor vehicle agencies (MVAs), including Iowa, has delivered a test version of the secure mDL software to an appointed Iowa DOT user group who will assess and validate the solution for use in situations where physical licenses are typically presented.

Not ready for public use

“Although we’re not yet ready to release the mDL for customer use, the lessons learned in this pilot will demonstrate the use case for our mDL Application to be offered in the future as an option to all citizens across the state, and may help guide other states who want to launch similar digital identity programs,” Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino said in a statement.

The pilot test involves hundreds of state employees who will test the mobile app in various settings. The pilot will also test record updates to the Iowa DOT’s customer record system with the changes rendered on the phone in real-time. Information such as change of address, over/under 21-years-old status, organ donor status and change in driving status, endorsements, or restrictions, can be updated to the mDL immediately.

How the app would work

After downloading the app to a smartphone, a user will receive an email with instructions and a PIN number.

Users then key their email and PIN numbers into the app and confirm their identity by taking a ‘selfie’ with their phone’s camera. The app matches the self-portrait with the on-record photo on a user’s licence.

Swiping up in the app shows the front of the licence. Swiping down shows the back.

Same level of trust as with physical licences

The MorphoTrust mDL software carries the same level of trust as its physical counterpart, the driver license/ID card. The mDL software includes both visible and covert security features that are linked and layered in the digital image seen on screen. These features not only ensure a high level of security, they also enable the electric licence to be quickly and reliably authenticated when presented for identification purposes and protect against fraudulent reproduction.

In addition to PIN and fingerprint-based security features already built into phones used in the pilot, the mDL app can be secured using MorphoTrust facial recognition unlock technologies which requires the user to take a ‘selfie’ and use a custom PIN.

“Iowa is first to take advantage of MorphoTrust’s commercial mDL software – an innovation being used to develop the nation’s first secure mobile driver license,” said Bob Eckel, CEO of MorphoTrust. “And, just as the physical driver license is more than a picture on a card, so the mobile driver license must contain the same level of security and authentication ability for it to be useful and trusted.”