Streamlining Travel with Blockchain Identity Verification

No more fumbling with a passport, travel IT company SITA  thinks that blockchain may allow us all to streamline travel.

Traveling has definitely become a chore. Long lines, tight spaces, overcrowded travel hubs. A measure of patience and a little bit of luck go a long way. The travel tech company SITA has a proposal that can at least help with streamlining traveler identification.

The group has proposed using blockchain tech to power a single and secure biometric identification process. The goal would be to allow travelers to prove their identity utilizing a wearable or mobile device throughout the entirety of their journey. No more ID cards, passports, or driver's licenses.

In practice, a customer would create a verifiable token that would be stored on a device kept on their person, contained within would be biometric and other verifying personal data. The traveler theoretically could then simply be ID'd by some form of biometric scan coupled with the token. None of the traveler's information would need to be stored or viewed by local agencies as all of the verification would happen within SITA's system. SITA has been working with blockchain ID card start-up ShoCard to produce an early demo that will be rolled out this week during the Air Transport IT Summit in Barcelona.

Regarding the possibilities of this process and the applicability of blockchain to travel identification Jim Peters  SITA's CTO states:

Blockchain offers a revolutionary approach to computer applications. It fundamentally changes the way we design systems because we can now create decentralized, global, tamper-proof, distributed databases. It is very early days yet and the issues of scalability and adoption rates need to be examined.

But what our SITA Lab team is looking at today is how we in the air travel industry – airlines, airports and government agencies - can take advantage of the new era where the underlying blockchain protocols provide trust so that individuals or authorities don’t have to.

The concept is interesting. It is pretty amazing that we still use paper passports (with some light embedded tech) to traverse borders. SITA has released a white paper on the topic available on their website. Consideration remains regarding who would host the bio and other confidential information used for verification.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Joseph Bradley
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