California is poised to be one of the next US states to implement a digital ID, with officials at the California Department of Motor Vehicles already actively planning a pilot.
Ajay Gupta, the DMV’s Chief Digital Transformation Officer, has revealed that an initial pilot could start in late summer, and that a vendor that has partnered with his agency is currently working with convenience stores on the installation of digital ID scanners.
The vendor in question has not been disclosed, but its efforts clearly point to the ID’s use extending to retail, to authorize the purchase of age-restricted goods like cigarettes and alcohol. Gupta also said that Californians will be able to use the digital ID at certain airports.
The news comes after a Los Angeles Times report from May of last year indicating that state legislators had given the DMV authorization to trial mobile IDs. But further legislative permission will be need to expand beyond a pilot: For now, Gupta says the DMV has authorization to pilot a digital ID with a base of 170,000 end users.
While it certainly isn’t too late for California to become one of the first pioneers of state-authorized digital ID – perhaps including mobile driver’s licenses – it is notable that the home of Silicon Valley has fallen behind the likes of multiple other states including Georgia, Missouri, and most recently Maryland in getting the technology into the hands of citizens. Nevertheless, Governor Gavin Newsom has promised that California will “do it like no other state has done it,” and the DMV’s Gupta believes that younger generations will ultimately find that the idea of a physical wallets full of IDs is “beyond them”, as they’ll be so used to mobile ID technology.
June 14, 2023 – by Alex Perala