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Smartphones the new Australia Card?

The announcement by the NSW state government that it is moving some of its licences to mobile devices doesn’t seem to have any immediate impact on photo retailers’ ID photo business.

Domenic Perrottet outlines a brave, efficient  new world where we carry all our 'licences' (digital 'identification papers') on our mobile phones.
Domenic Perrottet outlines a brave, efficient new world where we carry all our ‘licences’ (digital ‘identification papers’) on our mobile phones.

The New South Wales Minister of Finance and Services, Dominic Perrottet (pictured right), made an announcement at the end of November that from mid-2016, holders of recreational fishing licences, and Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) competency cards would have the option of displaying their licence on a mobile device. Physical cards would initially continue to be available (although it wasn’t clear whether an extra fee would now be required to stay with the analogue option).

The change doesn’t impact photo retailers because NSW fishing licences don’t feature photo ID, while ID photos for RSA and RCG cards are taken at NSW Government Service Centres when proof of identity is also gathered.

Likewise, photos on NSW drivers licences, which the NSW Governmennt announced will be able to be displayed on a mobile device from 2018, are taken at RTA offices.

(In all these cases, picture quality is barely acceptable and far lower than required of passport photos.)

‘Customers are doing more and more transactions on their smartphones: from cafes to banks, businesses are offering customers the opportunity to access their services, loyalty programs and payment systems through smartphone apps,’ said Dominic Perrottet when announcing the proposal. ‘There are currently over 123 different licence types and we issue over 2.8 million plastic cards each year, costing us tens of millions of dollars in printing.’

The digital licence would store extra information about the holder, with benign examples provided including blood type and next-of-kin contact details. Glenn King, the head of Service NSW, the government organisation which handles new licences, said law enforcement bodies from other states must be ready to accept the new technology.

‘If you take for example the Victorian police, they’re looking for the card. And while we want to enable this from a technology perspective in NSW in terms of both having it on the device (and) also the checking device, the Victorian police may not,’ he told The Australian.

The longer-term agenda seem to be a kind of all-encompassing digital dossier on NSW citizens which they will have carry at all times on their phones: ‘This platform will work across web and mobile systems, providing our citizens with a single digital wallet where multiple licences can be stored.

‘Digital licences will be available on an opt-in basis and customers will be able to choose to get their licence digitally, as a card, or in both forms.’

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