I just came across this article on Business Week “Use Your Driver’s License as a Debit Card“.
The intent is to use your drivers license for payment transactions. By coupling your license number to your bank account, they make your drivers license suitable for payments. Just swipe it, enter your personal code and the money is transfered. This way the shop owner doesn’t have to pay credit card companies those exorbitant fees and can carry less plastic around in your wallet.
Sounds like a good idea? Yes and no. Yes, since you don’t have to carry yet another card for doing payments. No, because they are overloading the drivers license to do stuff that it wasn’t made for.
We all know the the verification process for the US drivers license is shaky yo say the least on most states. The REAL ID act tries to improve this situation by introducing extra measures. But in the end, the verification process remains faulty. It is just less faulty but still faulty enough. Piggy backing a payment authorization is not such a good idea. You could couple the bank account of John to the drivers license of Jeff. And what happens if your drivers license is revoked? No payments anymore?
Their aim, reducing the number of plastic in your wallet, is worthy. Their modus operandi isn’t. Piggy backing one type of identification and authorization on to another type is often dangerous. Not always bad, but often questionable.
Why not introduce a blank card that can store multiple virtual ID cards like your credit card, drivers license … You just pick and unlock the one you would like to use. That reduces the plastic weight while still separating identities and authorization when needed and when you wish. Sounds like user centric identity in your wallet.