Google is now beta testing its digital ID in Maryland, enabling interested Android users to store virtual versions of their driver’s license or state ID in the Google Wallet app. The news comes soon after changes in a technical document for the Google Play System hinted that a launch of Google’s digital ID system was imminent.
Interested users can register by uploading photos of the front and back of their driver’s license or state ID, and submitting a selfie video. It isn’t clear if facial recognition is used to match the images; in its support page, Google explains that, “A photo from this video will be submitted to your ID issuer for verification.”
The fact that Google is relying on the ID issuer for verification suggests that facial recognition is not in place, but the use of a selfie video in onboarding, rather than a selfie photo, suggests that there may be automated liveness detection in play.
Apple, meanwhile, uses a somewhat elaborate biometric onboarding system in its own wallet. It’s based on the kind of selfie-based identity verification that is becoming commonplace in the financial services sector in particular, in which a selfie image is automatically matched to uploaded photos of a physical photo ID. But Apple’s system also prompts the user to make certain head movements as a means of guarding against presentation attacks.
In any case, Google’s digital ID does have one basic mobile security requirement: the user must set up a screen lock.
As is the case with Apple’s mobile driver’s license, Google’s will be accepted by the TSA as official ID at certain airports. Users can verify their ID to confirm their identity via NFC, or by presenting their digital ID’s QR code to be scanned by an authorized agent.
The beta launch of Google’s mobile ID in Maryland comes after Apple’s launch of its own mobile ID in Colorado last month. Apple has a bit of head start, having debuted its mobile ID in Arizona in March and then brought it to Maryland in May.