Today, South Korea’s SK Telekom announced the commercial launch of a blockchain-based digital identity app developed with telecom companies KT and LG U+. Called ‘Pass’, the app enables verification of the user’s driving license to enable authentication for different services.
The identity authentication app has been around since 2018, and the digital driving license feature has been added in the recent update. Each telecom firm has its own Pass app and a person can only be registered with one of them.
An example of an application is a person proving they are of drinking age without sharing personal information like their address.
The solution is linked to the license verification system of the National Police Agency and the Korea Highway Traffic Authority. This allows a real-time verification of a user’s identity. The app also links to the device identity on which it is installed, thus preventing fraudulent use.
The user needs to show the license photo and the QR code the app displays for authentications when asked. Personal information, such as birthdate and address, are not divulged. For privacy, the driving license is encrypted and stored on the user’s mobile device. The mobile phone operators say they store the minimum personal data necessary to operate the service, and that data cannot be associated with a natural person.
“This is the first time in Korea to provide a nationwide digital driver’s license verification service,” said Lee Tong from SK Telekom in its announcement. “Pass mobile driving license verification service will be rapidly expanded in the future to expand the field of use. And mobile for financial transactions.”
The solution primarily performs the following functions — authenticate the user, the SIM card, the PIN and biometrics, validate certificates and allow digital signatures through phone numbers. While the initial use case involves driver’s license authentication, the three carriers plan to scale the solution for other authentication services.
Convenience stores and driving tests
An immediate use case has been developed for the identification of persons at CU and GS25 convenience store chains in South Korea. The goal is to prevent the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors. Using the Pass app, the store employee can scan the barcode displayed on the mobile app to verify if the buyer is of age to purchase liquor.
Meanwhile, Pass will also be used at the National Driver’s License Test Center for renewal and issuance of a license. The citizens will be given the license using the ‘Pass’ app instead of a physical card.
Other digital identity ventures
SK Telekom, KT, and LG U+ have been actively exploring blockchain-based digital identity over the past few years.
The three telcos are part of the Initial DID Association, a decentralized identity consortium hosted by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA). It uses the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.
Before the consortium had a name, the trio announced they were working with Samsung, KEB Hana Bank, Woori Bank, and IT company Koscom to build a self-sovereign identity (SSI) app.
Meanwhile, SK Telekom has a partnership with Deutsche Telekom for blockchain digital identity.