Future of IDs in Washington

Nabanita De
5 min readMar 11, 2019

This Startup weekend, I had an opportunity to work on a very Interesting issue, faced on a regular Basis — Having to carry a Physical ID at all points, for Identification. Although carrying Driving Licenses and State IDs have become a common chore of the present, lets back up a little bit to think about the last time you were on the verge of losing your ID and all the thoughts that ran through your head, at that point. Given a choice, will you still prefer a Physical ID or would love the option of a highly secure Virtual ID?

Pitching at the Startup weekend

Now lets quickly think about the Immigrants or people not born in US and have traveled to this country for work/education/travel, possibly the only acceptable Identification they carry would be a Passport. How feasible is it to carry it everywhere, especially since it is such an important document and the only way to uniquely identify someone? To get a state ID, a person needs to pay 50 dollars to the DMV and if you lose one, you pay another 20 dollars. Washington has a population of about 7 million people residing currently, 14.3% of which are Foreign born. If you do the math, you are looking at Industry of about 50 million dollars, which is totally untapped. Think about how much money would one be saving if your ID was virtual and Global.

Losing your only ID can be very scary due to a lot of points and if you think, carrying Physical IDs are easy and convenient, lets evaluate a couple of scenarios where it falls short. Often times, when you are at a club or a bar, where the lighting seems to be dark, its not uncommon for your ID to slip off your pocket or bag. Furthermore, since the lighting is considerably dark, its completely possible for IDs to get interchanged. Infact, someone I know was once handed someone else’s passport at a popular Nightclub when she lost hers and think of the possible security implications it carries. After talking to the ID checkers at Bars and Clubs, a very common trend observed is that manually having to check IDs generally slows down the process of ID checks and creates long queue as compared to having an age verified system, where User was already verified of their age and all they needed to show is their picture. Furthermore, it cuts down on people trying to scam the system with a Fake ID. The second misconception a lot of people seemed to have was that Washington required IDs to be checked at all points by law, however according to this site — https://lcb.wa.gov/mastrvp/rvp-faq, a complete different story is projected.

The feasible solution to this solution that I worked for this startup weekend is IDFree, a mobile app, comparable to Uber for ID-Check. We donot do the ID-Check, we just provide the platform, for organizations to ID-Check the first time physically and instead of storing the ID online, storing a verified tag against personal’s name along with their Bio-metrics in an encrypted Database.

We outsource ID-Check and Age verification to each Organization or Venue registered with us. When the Customer goes to that particular bar for the first time, they need to provide a Physical ID for verification to be enrolled in the app as verified as 21+, on the organizations’s Database. The Image provided along with the fingerprints using the Fingerprint sensor, by the Customer, at the time of Physical verification becomes immutably stored in the organization’s Database (just like a Blockchain Transaction) and for all the next times, the Customer comes in, he/she needs to provide the same biometrics — his/her fingerprint and face to re-enter, without needing to carry the Physical ID. Combining two biometrics makes sure people cannot fraud the system by handing over their phone to their friends to re-enter as the request to re-enter using his fingerprint, picture on the phone and him in person, only lasts for 15 seconds and expires, if it isnt attended to, immediately.

How it works
Screenshots of the Initial Interface

Based on Customer Research, empowering organizations to still be able to verify creates a position of power, which Businesses would like to maintain, since letting an Underage enter can cause serious fines and that kind of trust would take time to build on any kind of system. Making this experience, free to Customers makes most sense, since that is the only way one can push towards to the Digital age. However, the monetary value of this platform can be obtained through Subscription models for Businesses, since signing up with a particular organization/venue with a physical ID can be thought of a way to entering their Loyalty program. So each time, a customer shows up and checks in with this app, to verify their age as a basic requirement for entry to the bar or club, this can be used to have better insights on the number of customers hitting the venue per day, per hour or even create a rewards or loyalty program for small Businesses, where they can offer services to their frequent customers like Priority check-ins and skipping queues, priority serving while at the bar, customer retention by pushing Day specials, events or even advertising to other users who have signed up on the app, ID-Free. Just by walking around bars and Clubs in Cap hill in Seattle (one of the most Liquor centric places in Seattle), one would be surprised to realize the need for Loyalty point services that Famous Bars or Clubs, wish to implement at low costs. Having this system would be a win-win for both Customers and Businesses on this platform.

Mock Screenshot of a possible rewards program

The future of bars, clubs or other dining places is just smartphones where your IDs, credit cards and all other necessarily information is safely secured using your Biometrics on your phone. Our app is a step towards that reality. While government is slowly working towards virtual IDs, as suggested by this site — https://www.gemalto.com/govt/traffic/digital-driver-license, Meanwhile the easiest way to get to this future is through crowdsourcing.

If this idea interests you and you would like to get an early preview of this app, feel free to connect with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nabanitaai