The DVLA has begun trialling a new digital version of driving licences, accessible on smartphones. This will allow drivers to always access a valid copy of their present driving licence on their phone if they should forget to carry their physical licence with them.
Being able to view your driving licence on a phone follows in the footsteps of other digital identification methods, like electronic boarding passes and storing card details for contactless payments. The DVLA’s digital service will allow drivers and trusted third parties to share and validate licence information.
This will be useful for employers to easily and quickly check job applicants for the correct qualifications or any potential driving restrictions. Drivers dealing with insurance providers can also benefit from streamlined licence checks where necessary.
Always available online
Rather than replacing your plastic photocard, digital licences are intended to be an “add-on”, offering an alternative method to access your licence quickly and conveniently. One potential drawback is that your licence can only be reached as long as you have an internet connection, which could pose a problem in low signal areas.
Mobile analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight commented: “There are not many people in the UK that do not carry a smartphone with them every day, so it is a logical next step.” He also praised the advance level of security and existing framework for storing and using digital payments and identification.
Additionally, Chris Green – a technology analyst from the business consultancy Lewis – called digital wallets “a massively underrated and under-exploited resource.” As more and more people get used to this form of technology, he points out that people become increasingly comfortable relying on their smartphone to store key information.
If the DVLA’s current trial period is deemed successful, the facility is planned to roll out to the wider public from April 2018.