The Baird Government plans to transition NSW towards using digital licences over the next four years. Photo Contributed
The Baird Government plans to transition NSW towards using digital licences over the next four years. Photo Contributed Contributed

First smartphone licences due next year

BATTERY-SAPPED young adults might struggle to buy a beer in 2018 as the NSW Government pushes forward with its digital licensing system.

Work has begun to transition licences for recreational fishing and responsible service of alcohol and gambling qualifications to the new digital format that will eventually replace physical cards with identification through the licence-holder's smartphone.

Services Minister Dominic Perrottet said the digital licences would be available in mid-2016.

"Customers are doing more and more transactions on their smartphones: from cafes to banks, businesses are offering customers the opportunity to access their services, loyalty programs and payment systems through smartphone apps," he said when announcing the proposal.

"There are currently over 123 different licence types and we issue over 2.8 million plastic cards each year, costing us tens of millions of dollars in printing."

Five licence types will be added in 2017, but digital drivers' licences are not due until the end of 2018.

The digital licence would store extra information about the holder that could be useful in an emergency, such as blood type and next-of-kin contact details.

But questions have already been raised about how to stop police officers searching through phones for other information during traffic checks.

The NRMA said it would keep an eye on similar proposals unfolding in Iowa and Delaware in the United States, where the question of police access to smartphones has already gone to the Supreme Court.

It also begs the question: What happens when your phone goes dead?

All is not lost for pub-goers with dodgy batteries.

Back-up physical licences will still be available on an opt-in basis, at least in the short-term.

-APN NEWSDESK


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