We’re creeping ever closer to a world in which you don’t need to carry a wallet.
The state of Iowa will release a free smartphone app in 2015 that can be used in place of a physical driver’s license. If the state moves fast enough, it could be the first in the country to release such an app, according to The Des Moines Register.
"It is basically your license on your phone," Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino said on Monday during a budget hearing. The app will be optional -- Iowans can still opt to use a regular driver's license card. (It’s probably also a smart idea to continue to carry around your original license anyway, in case your smartphone battery dies.)
A mockup of the digital driver’s license. The head will actually move a little.
Digital driver's licenses are just the latest thing moving out of our wallets and onto our phones. Money-transfer systems like Apple Pay and Venmo make it that much easier to survive without carrying cash or cards.
The Iowa DOT is promoting the driver's license app as a way to eventually limit fraud of all sorts, including the production of fake IDs. People will verify their identity using a PIN code to open the app.
The app is still very much in the development phase, Mark Lowe, director of the motor vehicle division for the Iowa DOT, told The Huffington Post. He noted that many of the security issues are getting worked out.
Lowe said that one of the greatest concerns that the public has expressed about the idea is that law enforcement officers might ask to see someone’s driver’s license app, only to poke through other things on the smartphone. Officers aren’t legally allowed to do that, Lowe said. But to make sure people feel safe, they're creating a button that will allow officers to see the license without gaining access to anything else on the phone.
Paul Steier, director of the Iowa Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, told HuffPost that the state may eventually allow people to only carry a digital license, doing away with their plastic card once and for all.
“We see that as an option -- that someone could say I only want my driver’s license digitally, please," Steier said.
The app could also become much more than just a digital driver's license. The plan is to eventually integrate a number of other services into the app, like weather and driving alerts, or even the ability to access your personal record.