Jun 10, 2022

Opinion: NFC Is Central To Digital Identity Solutions

The Trend Is Clear; NFC Technology Enabling More Identity Information Sharing   

Given the ever-changing nature of the way the world does business and goes about its day-to-day activity, it’s no surprise that convenience is a priority. Improved convenience (and improved consumer experiences) using NFC technology is a rising trend worldwide. The list of identity applications being used or tested is quite large including various “passports”, mobile driver’s licenses, digital currency, and health cards.

The COVID-19 pandemic created the need for vaccine verification, thus leading to the creation and implementation of vaccine passports. The European Union (EU) is a world leader in these passports, which allow for travel and social activities throughout the EU based on digital COVID-19 certificates on smart devices. A vaccine passport requires users to report their vaccination status, negative COVID-19 test status, or positive COVID-19 test status in a certain number of days.

Similar to how vaccine passports became more widespread in their usage, another standard method of identification has become digitized with the digital driver’s license. Apple first implemented the digital driver’s license in Arizona, with the intention of making a driver’s license available on your Apple Wallet nationwide across the United States. The digital driver’s license is another measure supported through NFC technology to provide users with a convenient form of identification.

In March 2022, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to help “outline the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying policy” including the possible issuance of a US central bank digital currency. Other countries are further ahead than the US. The Executive Order is an important step that other countries are also completing to varying degrees that will help create a streamlined digital currency. The potential for the use of NFC in this implementation could help to create safeguards and support the identification process.

Another area we are seeing a rise in potential NFC use for identification is in healthcare.  The trend here is around the use of health smart cards. Existing health smart cards are paper or digital versions of clinical information that can be stored both physically and digitally on any smart device. Smart health cards can identify and help you easily share your clinical information with an organization that asks for it. Your medical and health information is kept securely for your use.

However, health smart cards do not maximize their potential with NFC, as they now use QR codes, a less secure technology.  This could become a problem as highly sensitive healthcare data is stored on health smart cards. If the previously listed developments are to serve as an indication of future developments, health smart cards transition to NFC-based technology seems to make sense in the future.

As these exciting new identity developments continue to progress, it is important to remain up to date on all things NFC. To learn more about the NFC Forum and NFC technology’s latest developments, register for the NFC Forum’s educational June Open Forum.