App & away: Smartphones could render passports obsolete

© Cathal McNaughton
A British banknote manufacturer has begun work on technology that can securely store passport details on a smartphone, meaning you’d never forget your passport again. Unless you forgot your phone!

In the digital age, with smartphones already storing sensitive documents such as boarding passes, paper passports are something of a relic from a past era. That’s the view that’s inspired De La Rue’s new project. 

Martin Sutherland, CEO of De La Rue, the world’s biggest producer of passports and also the company that prints banknotes for more than 150 countries, told the Times his company is developing technology that will eventually make paper passports history.

Sutherland admitted the plan, still in the early stages of development, would require government approval and cooperation.

De La Rue is not the first to dip its toes into digitizing secure documents.

Last year, Australia announced it is developing “cloud passports” that could allow holders to store personal information in the cloud.

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The technology would work by storing the identity and biometric data of holders online so it could be checked digitally.

Trials of the system for travelers between Australia and New Zealand are currently being discussed.