Over a million South Korean driver's licenses are now digital IDs running on blockchain tech

Over a million South Korean driver’s licenses are now digital IDs running on blockchain tech. Source: AFP

Blockchain-based driver’s licenses hit the road in South Korea

  • Over 3% of South Korean driver’s licenses are now digital IDs running on blockchain technology

Despite being launched just over two months back in May of this year, over a million South Korean drivers have already traded in their traditional driver’s license for a digital equivalent, with one notable difference — the new licenses are enabled by blockchain technology.

South Korea has been at the forefront of the blockchain technology renaissance that drew a lot of attention a couple of years ago thanks to the speculative trading potential of cryptocurrencies running on blockchain technology. But the potential of the underlying technology is vast, able to power processes and keep secure, verifiable records in a variety of fields, ranging from healthcare to automotive to banking.

While South Korea has had a lot of debate over the regulation of cryptocurrencies, the foundational values of blockchain-powered applications is well established in Seoul. The digital driving license represents the first form of digital ID being issued in the country according to CoinTelegraph, approved by the Ministry of Science and ICT last year. The new Korean driver’s license can be used together with the PASS smartphone app, which can be used to digitally renew and reissue licenses with minimal process serving in-between. The project was launched in May by the National Police Agency in partnership with the Korea Road Traffic Authority and the three major telecommunication providers in the country, SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+.

And the license is not just for road use, it is a legally recognized form of identification that can be used to authenticate an individual’s identity, as well as satisfy proof-of-age requirements where applicable, such as when purchasing controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco.

With over a million users at this point, Statista data indicates that more than 3% of South Korea’s tech-savvy driving community has switched to the new license. Users display the license via a QR code (barcodes are apparently also a secure option) seen through the PASS mobile app. For non-Korean permanent residents and expatriates, their Korean driver’s license will be in English.

This isn’t the first blockchain-based driving license project either– Australia has been studying digital driving IDs, and has even implemented the tech in some Australian states. The secure and trouble-free format of digital IDs has been catching attention, but even in friendly regulatory countries, not everyone is for digital identification.

This is by no means the only blockchain project underway in South Korea: the country is outlining pilot projects to store data on distributed ledger frameworks, such as collecting data on the nation’s 3.6 million diabetes patients or introducing an online voting system on the blockchain in time for the 2022 elections.