SEOUL — South Korea will demonstrate and commercialize a mobile driver’s license service using blockchain technology. Unlike other similar smartphone-based digital identification services, the app-based license will have the same authenticity as the physical plastic card version that is accepted anywhere as a personal verification tool.
Three mobile carriers — SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus — have launched a digital driver’s license service through “PASS,” a personal identity verification app, in June 2020. The PASS digital license has been used by affiliated organizations. Banks and many government organizations have yet to introduce the service.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said in a statement on May 3 that it would work with the National Police Agency to demonstrate and commercialize a blockchain-based digital driver’s license service. The demonstration will begin by the end of 2021 for commercial service in 2022.
“This digital ID card is a service that will completely change the paradigm of the conventional identity authentication industry,” Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol was quoted as saying. He said the new service has three different aspects from conventional services — self-sovereignty, decentralized identity (DID) system technology, and utilization in daily life.
The demonstration will be based on the ministry’s experience of creating a digital identification service for government workers. The app ID card service used a DID system instead of a centralized identity (CID) system in which the host can track and monitor users. The DID system ensures users’ self-sovereign over privacy. Users can choose to share their identity or not.
“We have chosen the DID system because of users’ privacy. We do not want our system to track where people are going and what they are doing,” Shin Min-pil, an official at the ministry’s digital safety bureau, told Aju Business Daily. “It’s because we want citizens to trust us and use the convenient wallet-free service.”
When commercialized, a person has to visit a police station or other related administrative offices to be authenticated and issued with the digital version of a driver’s license. PASS’s current service requires the uploading of the photograph of the physical license.
“The new service can be used just like a physical one. A person can use it for identification before getting on a domestic flight or for personal authentication while using a mobile banking service,” Shin said, adding the app license service would reduce the hassle of verifying the age of users whenever using an age-restricted service.
The ministry thinks the blockchain-based license will pioneer the global personal digital identity authentication market. “Starting with the digital driver’s license service, the government and private companies will eventually have to provide various identification services that integrate mobile ID cards,” it said.
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