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South Korea will roll out digital IDs as banks promote blockchain driver's licenses

South Korea may soon abandon plastic and tangible forms of ID in favor of substitutes powered by blockchain technology.

Photo by Daniel Bernard / Unsplash

South Korea may soon abandon plastic and tangible forms of ID in favor of substitutes powered by blockchain technology.

Why use blockchain?

In South Korea, the prevalence of smartphone ownership is pegged at more than 88%. However, some estimates put the number as high as 95%. And in response, internet companies, the government, the police, and banks have introduced programs targeted at getting rid of plastic license cards and social security ID cards. They now embrace digital substitutes that are blockchain-based.

One of the biggest commercial banks in the country, Woori Bank (1), declared that at the 2022 International Security Industry Expo, it will actively "promote the issuing and usage of mobile driver's licenses." Bank employees will start explaining to consumers how to get a blockchain-powered ID. These digital cards may be purchased right now utilizing machines at National Police Agency (2) and Road Traffic Authority locations around the country. This year, banks like Woori started recognizing smartphone-based driver's licenses as a form of identification at their branches.

Push for Blockchain ID begins

Suh Bo-ram, the Director-General of South Korea's digital government department, said in a Bloomberg story this week that smartphone-based ID cards will become the standard by 2024. The action follows closely on the heels of that report. According to Suh, the government plans to implement its solution in 2024. By 2026, Seoul intends to have 45 million of its 52 million residents using the cards.

Suh further affirmed the utilization of decentralized identity (DID) systems in the solution known as distributed identity authentication. The solutions were described as an "advanced strand of blockchain technology" by him. Under South Korea, DID solutions have been in development for a while. The government and the corporate sector are eager to create blockchain-based, contactless online ID solutions.

What's to be expected in the upcoming days

Tech behemoths like Samsung and LG have joined the battle, and some have even predicted the start of a "war" between competing blockchain-powered ID products. In July this year, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (3) declared that individuals countrywide might utilize mobile driver's licenses kept on its app after a successful launch in 2020. Kookmin Bank and IBK Industrial Bank, Woori's competitors, declared earlier this year that they would deploy DID services to give military members internet access to banking goods.