Google Wallet takes next step with US biometric passports

By Chris Burt

Google Wallet is rolling out support for American biometric passports, according to an X post from code leaker Assemble Debug.

The post, spotted by Android Police, specifies that the feature will only be available in the U.S. to start.

Users scan their passport with Google Wallet to add it as an ID pass, and can then perform identity verification by connecting their phone to an NFC scanner or scanning a QR code generated by the ID pass. They are still recommended to carry a physical copy of their passport, however.

The feature is not currently live, but expected to be included in an imminent update.

Code for integrating passports was shipped with the beta version of the digital wallet, and Apple Wallet has reportedly already begun building a similar capability into its APIs.

A feature guide at the time of the beta release stated that the feature is intended for use at “select TSA checkpoints.”

Tom’s Guide notes that digitized passports could in theory also be used for age or identity verification, like digital IDs stored in Apple Wallet, but Google has yet to comment on this possibility.

Your passport to everything (brought to you by Google)

Google Wallet also added support for 29 more banks to its payment feature in June, and is up to 170 added this year alone, indicating the focus remains on payments, for now.

Mobile driver’s licenses from several states are already available in Google Wallet; however, like Georgia, Arizona, Colorado and Maryland, so some Americans have already been using it at airports.

Google Wallet has also integrated access control credentials from HID Global.

In Europe, where member states are working towards launching interoperable digital wallets for all citizens, they will store national ID cards that function as travel IDs within the EU, and are also being implemented for access to restricted content online.

The potential market, therefore, is neither specific to the U.S. or travel, but in theory could extend to include every application that people can present their passports for, including online financial services and government interactions. With no equivalent to the EU Digital Wallet, the Americas seem headed towards a system where digital IDs are served through mobile wallets provided by the usual tech giant incumbents.

Source: Biometric Update

Chris Burt is managing editor and industry analyst at Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt.

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