Iowa to launch smartphone driver’s license

Sometime next year, residents of Iowa will be able to download an app that will act as their driver’s license.

People will still be able to stick a traditional plastic driver’s license in their wallet or purse if they choose, Trombino said. But the new digital license, which he described as “an identity vault app,” will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers during traffic stops and by security officers screening travelers at Iowa’s airports, he said.

Obviously, the major concern here is security. On the iOS side, seems like this effort would be a terrific dovetail with Apple Pay’s secure element. The app could be tied to the iPhone fingerprint sensor. A natural fit and great protection if your phone is ever stolen.



  • jamesez

    Except now you have an incentive to hand over your unlocked phone to police. Oh.

    • Dave Mark

      Thoughtful point, James. One possible solution would be to make the license app part of the locked portion of the interface, like the flashlight or camera. Still accessed via the fingerprint scanner, but without giving access to the rest of the phone.

    • Joseph Blake

      Yeah, this is why I still use paper insurance cards even though my state allows you to have an electronic version.

      I think to make this really useful, states and insurance companies need to work with Apple and Google to get this functionality built into the lock screen and passbook (and whatever Google’s equivalent is) along with NFC such as Dave suggested in the original post and below.

  • Terry Maraccini

    DUMBEST IDEA EVER Why would you give a cop your phone?

  • Denis

    “Obviously, the major concern here is security.”???

    Here’s a thought: if they can offer an app that validates your license if you enter a PIN code, then why do you need to hand your phone to begin with? Have the cop hand a phone over to you, enter your SSN, your PIN, and call it a day.

    This whole thing reeks of “Please let us browse your unlocked phone.”

  • dr.amp

    Secure Element is an EVMco (Credit Card) industry standard using Java Card technology using NFC. It is mainly used for processing tokens using bank cards encryption keys.

    Not every problem can be solved with it as you wish.

    Secure Enclave is where the fingerprint has reside and gets authenticated.

  • The app could just output a QR code that the cop scans with their device which then brings up the drivers license.