Apple enables some users to store IDs in their digital wallets
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A fully digital wallet might be getting closer. Apple users in Arizona can now store their driver’s licenses on their phones and the company says the capability is coming soon to more states.
People should still carry their physical ID as the feature is rolled out, Apple warned; the only airport that accepts it right now is in Phoenix. But the development marks a shift in how we prove our identities and spend our money.
Maybe you’ve recently upgraded your wallet from an unwieldy George Costanza-type situation to a sleek card case. After all, you can do a lot with your phone nowadays — pay for groceries, take the New York City subway, show proof of COVID vaccinations. The only thing missing is your ID.
“The day is almost here when practically every transaction can all be managed through your smartphone,” said Eswar Prasad, author of “The Future of Money.”
True digital wallet adoption is just a few years away, he said. “Apple wants to make sure that it plays a central role between consumers, businesses and the government.”
Consumers, businesses and the government have a stake in digital IDs, too, said Akif Khan, an analyst at Gartner.
“Imagine you’re buying alcohol online. Online gambling is another one. You don’t need to prove your identity necessarily, but you need to prove your age,” he said.
This is where digital wallets are headed, Khan said. In Sweden, the BankID app is a popular way for people to pay for stuff and sign loan documents and tax returns.
But it’ll take some coordination in the U.S. There are 50 states, each with its own ID laws. And many different tech companies are developing these features, which could make adoption clunky for businesses.
“You’re potentially going to have to be accepting five, 10, 15, 20 different digital identity wallets in order to not exclude any customers,” Khan said.
Those customers need persuading, too. Americans have been slower to adopt mobile wallets than people in many other parts of the world.
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