Brits could be travelling paper-passport free in two years, an industry expert has predicted. Chris Briggs, senior president of identity at document verification company Mitek, told the Mirror he believes airport wait times will be drastically cut as frictionless tech is adopted.
The industry chief also said physical visas would become a thing of the past along with lengthy waits for passport renewals, before virtual documents are stored on battery-free devices, such as Apple AirTags. Digital IDs have been thrust into the spotlight this week thanks to an intervention from former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Conservative chief William Hague. In a new report the political heavyweights urged the government to adopt virtual forms of identification, so it could better understand their needs and better target support.
While the plan was lambasted by some - including Silkie Carlo, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, who called the proposals one of the "biggest assaults on privacy ever seen in the UK" - others see digital ID as the future.
Chris is helping to implement them in a number of countries with Mitek, an identity verification company which produces tech that scans and verifies thousands of different kinds of documents.
Soft and hardware originally designed to verify cheques is now helping to provide frictionless technology for border control trials in countries including the US and Germany. While Chris admits the tech is not "100% perfect in all cases", it is "very, very highly reliant" and can flag potential issues for manual review, theoretically weeding out difficult cases. Over the years this has been put to the test checking "very sophisticated forgeries" to prove it can detect different kinds of fakes, including issues with the font, typology, picture and originality of the document.
He told the Mirror that visa and paper passport-free travel would be commonplace in the UK by the middle of the decade, and that laws are currently being passed to make it a reality.