Mobile Driver’s Licenses Offer COVID-Safe Contactless ID Option for Pharmacies
In October 2020, the New South Wales (NSW) Road Transport Amendment (Digital Licensing) Bill gave digital licenses the same legal standing as physical ID cards. This allows, among other use cases, pharmacists in New South Wales to accept a patient’s mobile driver’s license (mDL) instead of a physical ID when purchasing restricted OTC medications such as pseudoephedrine[i]. With Florida poised to become the first U.S. state to widely offer trustworthy ISO-compliant mobile driver’s licenses to its residents[ii] in 2021, pharmacies in America are likely to soon follow suit.
Driven by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of contactless ID is catching fire. Authenticating a person’s ID without the need for a physical credential (or their mobile device) to change hands increases safety for both the pharmacist and their customer. Additionally, a mobile driver’s license gives control over one’s identity data that’s not possible with physical cards. While traditional physical identity documents provide verifiers access to all the citizen’s personal information, mobile ID utilizes data minimization which allows the mDL holder to only share the data required to complete a specific transaction. For example, pharmacies only receive user’s “contact information” (birthday, address, name, photo, and validity of the identification document). This is different from a liquor store, which would only require a user’s “over 21” status, photo, first name, and validity of the ID.
Mobile driver’s licenses provide a contactless “Tap & Go” ID transaction comparable to making a payment with the tap of smartphone. Similar to a credit card on a phone, for an mDL to be secure and effective you cannot simply show a photo, rendering, or mock-up of a license. Visual authentication is too easy to fake. Instead, ISO 18013-5-compliant mDLs are a trustworthy, official, government-issued driver’s license/ID on a mobile phone. The government issuer e-signs the data and puts it under the control of the mDL holder (the citizen), to be used via electronic transfer. Pharmacists (or any verifier) can authenticate eSignatures to immediately ensure the data is authoritative and not tampered with. Specific to the pharmacy use case, it is important to ensure an ID has not been tampered with so that only the intended recipient is obtaining medications.