People often complain about the large number of cards they have to carry with them in their wallets. Personally, I have 15 cards in my wallet including e.g credit/debit cards, loyalty cards, ID card, and a driving license. In addition, I have 15 other cards at home that I choose not to carry with me every day. Instead of filling your wallet with all these cards, it is now possible to replace some of them with a digital version, installed as apps on your mobile phone. Finland was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a digital mobile driving license called Driver (Autoilija in Finnish), with the public beta version being released in the first half of 2019.
Driver is an app launched by Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communication Agency, and it includes a mobile driving license and additional services related to vehicles and personal information. Traditionally, a driving license has been used to prove the right to drive certain types of motorised vehicles. Also, it has been a widely accepted method to prove your age and identity, even though officially it is not an ID card. Just like in the case of a traditional driving license, in the mobile version it is still up to the service provider or legislation to decide what type of method is adequate for proving one’s identity.
The features and benefits
Mobile driving licenses introduce benefits that cannot be utilised in a traditional plastic card format. The app is always up to date, including the latest picture of the license holder, and can generate notifications such as a forthcoming car inspection (MOT) date. You can also see a list of vehicles for which you are the holder or owner and you can view information about them including:
- Registration number
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Inspection (MOT) period
- CO2 emissions
- Daily/Annual car tax
- Overdue car tax
- Technical information
In addition, the Driver app can produce various ways to show the license holder’s personal information suitable for different situations. In many cases, the service provider does not need all your identity information, and a limited amount of personal data is enough. For these cases, the user can create different types of dynamic QR-codes to identify themself. These codes can then be scanned by the service provider using the same Driver app (normal QR-scanners do not work with these codes). The code is available for a maximum of 5 minutes, to avoid fraudulent use – more on that below. The following QR-codes can be created:
- To prove you are over 18 years old
- To prove you are over 20 years old
- To provide your photo and personal data including full name, date of birth and SSN.
- To prove you have a license to drive
The Driver app-generated QR code includes a key that can be used to fetch live information from the Traficom database during the time of scanning, thus the identity information is not in the QR code itself.
In order to guarantee security, strong authentication is required during the installation. The Telia Authentication Gateway, using Ubisecure’s technology, is used for mobile certificate (Mobiilivarmenne in Finnish) and OP bank (the biggest bank in Finland) users. Other banks’ users can also register the application. Identity information and the picture are then stored in encrypted format in the user’s phone, to enable offline usage for a maximum of two weeks. The user does have the option to remove their information from the phone if they want. There are several visual effects that prevent misuse in case of screen captures or videos. Visual effects include:
- Animated background picture
- Several hologram elements that react to movement (utilising the gyroscope inside the phone)
- The timestamp of the last data retrieve from the Traficom database
- A front-page that breaks into fragments when touched
How to get the mobile driving license
The Driver (Autoilija) app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play. The app runs on phones with iOS 10 or later and Android 7.0 or later. Using the app requires strong electronic authentication by means of a mobile certificate or banking codes and you need to be at least 15 years old. Also, you need to have a valid Finnish driving license and your electronic photograph must be available in the official register for passports or driving licenses. Your photograph should be available if you have provided a photograph for a driving license during or after 2013, or you have a valid passport or identity card.
It is important to note that the mobile driving license does not replace the traditional license at the moment – thus the driver has to still keep the physical license with them while driving. It is currently a voluntary scheme, and there needs to be a change in legislation before it can become an official document.
Testing in practice
I have tested the mobile driving license app in practice during a car rental. The rental company accepted it even though the personnel had not seen one before. There is a lot of potential in this app and Traficom has promised to add more features to it and to keep the security up to date in the future. It will be interesting to see how extensively the service providers will start to use the QR code-based authentication.
The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom is an authority in the permit, license, registration, approval, safety and security matters. Read more about the Driver app from the Traficom portal (in Finnish, Swedish and English) here – https://www.traficom.fi/fi/autoilija-sovellus