Market analyst IHS Inc. estimates that some 1.4 billion driver licenses are currently in circulation around the globe, a figure that is bested only by national IDs. The number of smart driver licenses, however, is minuscule representing only 12% of all driving credentials issued by year’s end 2012.
Smart national IDs, or eIDs, are popping up in countries the world over, begging the question, what’s the holdup with e-driver licenses?
As IHS explains in a recent report, electronic driving licenses (eDLs) are pivotal in fraud and forgery prevention and can also help streamline administrative processes by adding electronic fine collection or storing traffic violations on the license itself. Smart credentials also allow for other functionalities to be added as needed, including storage of medical information, voter card data or travel documents with ICAO compliance.
While the benefits may be obvious, IHS states that eDLs are still a ways out with global penetration expected to grow from 12% at present to just 20% by 2018. There are a few reasons for this sluggish adoption, not the least of which could be sparse automotive penetration in a number of national populations in the Middle East, Asia and other regions.
Asia, for example, currently maintains the largest installed base of eDLs, accounting for nearly 85% of globally issued eDLs in 2012. This statistic is deceiving, however, as Japan is the key market in the region, representing nearly 40% of the world’s installed base of eDLs in 2012.
Meanwhile, IHS expects the market for eDLs in North America – where border relations are a hot-button issue – will be largely driven by Mexico, though the United States and Canada are also projected to contribute. In the United States and Canada, IHS posits that eDL rollouts will be limited to a small number of states, particularly those situated around the United States-Canada border.
The expected rise in adoption from 12% today to a projected 20% at the end 2018 is a step in the right direction for the smart credentials, but nonetheless shows a lack of ambition. Even with the projected rise in adoption, driver licenses will still represent the lowest smart card penetration of any issued credential at the end of the forecast period – a fact that, as IHS suggests, represents a missed opportunity.
“By adopting smart driving licenses, so much more can be achieved,” says Filomena Berardi, senior analyst of Financial and ID Technologies for IHS. “For example, penalty points and convictions could be automatically recorded. With the addition of biometric data, insurance and health information could also be stored on the card, meaning that if a driver was involved in an accident or pulled over by the police, the information would be readily available. This is merely the tip of the iceberg, and the use cases for eDLs are endless.”