NSW gov plans verifiable credentials pilot

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NSW gov plans verifiable credentials pilot

As answer to "paper sandwich" conundrum.

The NSW government is planning to pilot its first “verifiable credential” later this year, as it looks to solve digital identity proofing issues that businesses still face.

In early 2020, the government revealed plans for a ‘copy solution’ for the digital driver’s licence (DDL) to extend the acceptance of the credential beyond police checks and licenced venues.

The solution was to allow business to take copies of a DDL instead of a photocopy of a physical licence, as is required in some situations such as buying a phone, hiring a car or taking out a loan.

But the government was forced to ditch this approach after failing to find a workable solution that improves privacy and, ultimately reduces the risk of identity compromise.

“Ultimately, a paper copy of the DDL is not an end-to-end digital product… a copy solution is a paper sandwich, and therefore a short-term solution,” digital minister Victor Dominello said at the time.

Instead, Service NSW began working on a ‘validation solution’ in collaboration with the banks in late 2020, that would hide unnecessary information depending on the identity requirements.

More than 18 months on, however, the government is yet to reveal its answer to the “paper sandwich” conundrum.

The Department of Customer Service would not say if a verification solution had been developed or was still in development, but said it is planning to pilot a “verifiable credential” in the coming months.

“The first pilot program for a verifiable credential will take place later this year,” a spokesperson told iTnews, adding that the “use of verifiable credentials and digital identity solutions will be opt-in”.

The government is also continuing to “engage with key private sector service providers, including banks, on digital solutions”.

Legislation putting the DDL on equal footing with physical driver’s licences has been in place since October 2020.

In November 2021, Dominello outlined the government vision for decentralised credentials that give citizens greater control of their digital identity.

A personalised digital wallet is expected to allow NSW residents to manage and share their credentials, and verify the credentials of others.

Service NSW also plans to embed face verification technology within its digital channels to eventually allow customers to prove their identity through a face scan.

As of April, the government had shortlisted a number of software optionsv for liveness check and face matching.

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