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Iowa Aims To Become First State With A Driver’s License App

Another piece of the elusive “digital wallet” falls into place.

Iowa Aims To Become First State With A Driver’s License App
[Photo: Flickr user irina slutsky]

Payments companies have been hawking the dream of a digital wallet for years, hoping to replace plastic cards with sleek and ideally more secure smartphone interfaces. Now another wallet standby is set to go digital: the state-issued driver’s license, which Iowa will be implementing as a smartphone app starting next year.

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“We are really moving forward on this,” Paul Trombino, director of the Department of Transportation, told Gov. Terry Branstad during a budget hearing. “The way things are going, we may be the first in the nation.”

Traditional licenses will still be available, Trombino said. But he argued that a license app, with PIN verification, would be more secure. “Having this really allows people to protect their identify,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register.

Paul Steier, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s bureau of investigation and identity protection, tells Fast Company that a smartphone driver’s license brings the benefits of real-time data updates to both drivers and law enforcement officers. Changing a home address or suspending a license, for example, will be far easier to manage. “It takes away a lot of problems we have today with people physically needing to come into the DMV,” Steier says. In addition, he says the app would eliminate the cumbersome process of verifying identity with multiple agencies when moving to a new state or applying for new state services.

DOT leaders expect initial development of the app to cost $20,000. Then, if next year’s pilot tests are a success, Steier says he hopes to apply for grant funding to support the rollout and coordinate with other state leaders. “We don’t want to develop something in a tunnel. We want to work with the DMVs and law enforcement to develop something that could be used across the country,” he says.

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Along with 30 other states, Iowa already allows drivers to display electronic proof of insurance during traffic stops. The driver’s license app would serve as valid proof of identity in those situations, as well as at security checkpoints in Iowa airports.

[h/t: Des Moines Register]

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About the author

Senior Writer Ainsley Harris joined Fast Company in 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.

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