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Canada, Netherlands test paperless passport

The Canadian and Dutch governments are testing a paperless passport that you can access with a retina scan and your smartphone.

The Canadian and Dutch governments are working with Accenture and the World Economic Forum on a pilot project that will one day replace your passport with a digital wallet.

At some point it means you might be able to leave your passport at home. The Known Traveller initiative is the brainchild of the World Economic Forum, a non-profit agency that seeks to promote closer global economic co-operation.  WEF and Accenture, (NYSE:  ACN)  a Fortune 500 business  services consultant, are working with the two governments to test the technology and systems needed to make it work.

The initiative uses blockchain technology to create a record of personal information and the approvals by government agencies. Blockchain is so-called because it allows transactions to be shared among users. Once entered they cannot be changed which makes them secure.

The idea behind the pilot is similar to a Nexus card, which Canadians use to make traveling to and from the U.S. easier and faster. Nexus holders go through a vetting process by both governments and once approved can bypass customs lines, airport security and also have special lanes at border crossings.

The WEF-Accenture initiative is going one step further. It is looking at ways to store passport information in a way that would be available  on a traveler’s phone or tablet.  They are using software created by a Portugese company called Vision Box. Vision Box is a an identity management multinational headquartered in Lisbon  involved in security of government services including travel and border control. It uses blockchain technology and biometrics – such as finger and retina scans – to store and protect the information.

The Canada-Netherlands pilot program  allows passengers to fly between Toronto and Amsterdam with a face scan as enough to identify them when  boarding and clearing immigration on arrival. They do not need to show their travel documents or go through any further checks.

An airport retina scanning device used to confirm a passenger’s identity. Credit: Vision Box photo

Eventually, travelers will enroll in a process that is much like Nexus which also includes a retina scan during the application. Once their identity is approved by both governments they become a Known Traveler and are issued an electronic  Passenger Data Envelope.

The initiative  includes collaboration with Air Canada, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

This another example of the way that Blockchain technology is energizing business processes. Many companies are exploring how Blockchain can help them streamline their operations or create new ways of doing things.  Government services,  banking, insurance, financial services, healthcare, and food safety, are just a few of the sectors where these experiments are under way.

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