OWI Labs survey finds 61% of people ready to embrace digital-only driver’s licenses

The advantages of a digital ID outweigh the concerns over not having access if a phone’s battery dies, a new OWI Labs survey has found, as 61 percent of respondents indicated they would use a digital-only driver’s license.

The online survey of 299 U.S. residents, conducted on Thursday with Lucid, shows that the majority of users would be comfortable having their primary form of identification in a digital form.

The strong level of acceptance comes as some states in America are pushing to offer optional digital driver’s licenses, embracing the ubiquity of smartphones in the digital age. Iowa, in particular, is gearing up to offer Bluetooth-connected digital driver’s licenses next year, in a partnership with Idemia.

Because they are part of a connected device, digital driver’s licenses and forms of identification can be more secure than physical cards. For example, the smartphone owner would be able to accept or refuse requests from law enforcement to show identification, and police would be able to wirelessly authenticate that the digital ID is, in fact, legitimate.

At least 10 U.S. states are planning for or considering digital, smartphone-based ID cards for drivers, with Iowa on track to be the first to launch a statewide system in 2019.

Internationally, the Australian state of New South Wales plans to offer digital driver’s licenses stored on a user’s phone this year. The government already successfully trialed the system in 2017 with 1,000 residents in the town of Dubbo.

OWI Insight: This new survey shows most online U.S. residents are ready to make their entire wallet digital, after years of smartphone-based retail credit card payments and wireless money transfers with friends. Still, despite the willingness of Americans to embrace a digital ID, OWI expects the transition will be gradual for a number of reasons, including reliance on existing infrastructure built around physical cards. But most consumers clearly see the convenience of a smartphone-based ID, and governments and institutions will likely support added security and reduced risk of fraud, making digital ID cards seem an inevitability.