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NSW’s first digital licences pave way for "wallet-free future"

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Topics: Digital Transformation; NSW.

The first batch of digital licences in New South Wales are now available to download through the Service NSW app, with recreational fishers and hospitality workers the first to reap the benefits.

Recreational Fishing Fee (fishing licence), Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) competency cards are now available in digital form to citizens that want them, with physical licence cards to remain an option for all licence holders.

“If you carry a smartphone in your pocket and you’re looking forward to a wallet-free future, digital licences make so much sense – they’re easily accessible, safe and secure, and it’s one less thing to stuff in your wallet,” said Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet in a press release.

Digital licences will be kept secure using “multi-tiered security features similar to phone banking.” Sensitive citizen data will be stored in the NSW government’s data centre, GovDC.

Beyond a digital representation of the physical version, users will be able to update and view their licence account details, and see when their licences were checked.

“You can renew your licence and update your details with the click of a button, and there’s no need to visit a Service NSW centre or wait for something in the post. It’s all about saving time and making life easier, and these three licences are just the beginning,” said Perrotett.

He expects to see digital driver licences go live by 2019.

A flat battery will not become an excuse to not show a valid licence – citizens will be responsible for keeping their smartphone or tablet charged and accessible. Authorities will use a purpose-built checker app for verification.

The licences are available via the new “My Licences” digital wallet in the latest version of the Service NSW app. Eventually, citizens will be able to keep all licences in their digital wallet, reducing the costs associated with printing 2.8 million plastic cards each year

The initiative was first announced as an election promise in 2015, and supports the Premier’s plan to have 70 per cent of citizen transactions conducted online by 2018-19.

The Digital Licences Program also aligns with NSW’s preference for modular design and use of Whole of Government platforms, joining other recent rollouts including a new Payment Services Platform for MyServiceNSW, which was introduced in February 2016. The platform eliminated the duplication of payment infrastructure and provides a consistent payment experience across the NSW Government. It also paved the way for digital payment methods, allowing citizens with Android devices to pay for services using Google’s cashless Android Pay service in Service NSW centres.

South Australia also intends to be ‘cash-less and card-less by 2020’, and in March 2016 the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) approached the market for the design of a digital licence pilot.

According to Premier Jay Weatherill speaking to Nine News in August 2016, the DPC’s plan is to first trial National Parks passes and boat licences before implementing higher risk passes, like driver licences. Weatherill says driver licences are considered the ”Holy Grail” of digital licencing and the DPC is confident that they will go digital within the next 18 months.

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