Canada and the Netherlands Are Testing Passport-Free Flights

Known Traveler Digital Identity (KTDI) will be launched in 2020

What if you could travel without your passport? This idea shouldn’t be excluded nor considered impossible. On the contrary – it is possible with KTDI. 

One of the most extensive tests of Digital Identities in the real world was launched in Montreal. You can now travel hassle-free between Canada and the Netherlands without a passport.

They two countries have launched a pilot project called the Known Traveler Digital Identity (KTDI). Managed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the project will enable travelers to carry their passport digitally.

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How Will It Work?

Travelers need to download an application on their phone. Encrypted by the blockchain technology, this app will store the passport of the traveler digitally. The encryption enables the safety and reliability of the information stored, without relying on a trusted third party.

This information will be shared with the border police and the airlines even before the traveler arrives at the passport. However, the information is shared only after the person approves it, revealed WEF in a statement. The identity of the passengers at the beginning of the flight and upon arrival is then confirmed with the help of their fingerprints and facial recognition technology.

The passenger’s identity is continuously digitally verified throughout the journey. Over time, the objective is to allow users to “work their way up” to a “known traveler status.”

Essentially, the identity details stored on a chip on your passport will now be encrypted and stored on the smartphone of the passenger.

The Objectives

Fighting fraud and data leaks

The primary aim behind this project of WEF is to streamline the entire passenger management flow and to prepare for the incoming explosion of air traffic in the aviation industry and to eliminate the chances of fraud.

The ‘secret sauce’ behind this project is that travelers can control access to their personal data, not government agencies or travel brands. Based on the Linux’s Hyperledger Indy, a distributed ledger built for decentralized identity, KTDI is seen as a paradigm shift.

David Treat, managing director and global blockchain lead at Accenture, one of the technology advisory partners to the project, said:

“We’re all wildly frustrated by data hacks, data breaches, our identities being stolen — and that’s largely a result of where our identity data is stored today.”

He also explained that the excitement around digital identity being underpinned by biometrics is

“(That) there is now a solution pattern crystallizing where users can be in control of their own data. They can decide with whom they want to share it, and for how long, and revoke that access at a later point.”

Preparing for the increasing influx of passengers

Boarding passes are already used on mobile, on applications or as PDF. The introduction of a digital passport will be useful when the time to adapt to the increasing influx of passenger arrives.

According to the Director of Mobility at the WEF, Christoph Wolf, “by 2030, some 1.8 billion people will be flying overseas, up 50 percent from 2016.”

He further added that “current systems do not allow airports to handle so many people. This project proposes a solution.”

The project is seen as a solution to this expected growth in air travel, given that

“(By) using inter-operable Digital Identities, passengers benefit from a holistic system for secure and seamless travel. It will shape the future of aviation and security.”

How Soon Will it be Rolled Out for Travelers?

Although testing is currently underway, the first paperless itinerary is expected to roll out in 2020.

It is early to say how KTDI will be accepted. While it will provide safety and efficiency via facial recognition, it can also spark mistrust when it comes to handling personal information.

However, in addition to WEF, KTDI is also backed up by tech giants like Vision Box, Accenture, and IDEMIA which can be seen as a sign that the project will turn out to be successful.


Nikita Mittal

An avid technical writer with more than 8 years of experience, Nikita is an engineer by profession and writer by passion. She writes all things about the cryptocurrency and blockchain.

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