Summary: with everything becoming more digital, developments in the digital Identity space are going to become enablers and catalysts for hugely improved processes – in all industries, but also along the whole guest journey.
The pace of digital technology increasing its role in all our lifes was already pretty amazing until 2019. But then there was the pandemic, giving it another push. What usually needs 5 years plus, was done in about 6 months. Covid was a global “how to …” seminar for everything digital among all age cohorts and professions.
The amount of communication, interactions and transactions happening online knows only one way: up. And with this one problem became bigger and bigger: digital identity and credential verification. Numerous user accounts with passwords are hard to manage and therefore also easy to hack. Federated logins via social media are easier to manage but a nightmare from a privacy point of view. And such a simple thing like age verification is just not easy to do online, not to mention to prove ones real identity.
A Lot Of Untouched Potential
On the other hand, in many areas there is still a lot of potential for digital transformation, making processes more efficient and reducing friction. Who ever did a Visa application, a KYC procedure or the verification of documents of new employees in certain regulated industries knows this very well. These examples actually have something in common: it is rather important who it is. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, the more important the process, the less digital efficient it is done today. Either not digital at all or with some kind of video ident involved.
In order to improve this whole mess, various ambitious projects are going on all around the world. But to be aligned, interoperable, based on standards is important in order to be an efficient solution. The initiatives going on in Europe around EIDAS, the concurrent large scale pilots and the frameworks for digital wallets are a big push in this direction.
Besides the clear need and all the projects going on already, there is another big driver on the not too far horizon: AI. Or to be more specific, the general and free availability of tools to create close to perfect deepfakes. After a hopefully short time with a lot of spectacular scams being big news, the importance of being able to prove one’s identity and credentials will become strikingly obvious very fast.
And latest then it will be the time to make use of the available tools for plenty of new use cases enabled by them.
Tales from the (not to distant) Future
The friction involved in many steps in travel and hospitality is kinda strange – just think about how often one has to show passport & boarding pass in an airport. At arrival you have Uber – all digital, all smooth, all good. But then you are going to check-in at your hotel and you are back in a process which has stayed more or less the same for decades: you manually fill out a registration card, present (again) your ID and watch an stressed employee, hidden behind a screen, doing admin. This has to change.
Biometrics are going to smooth the process at airports – your face is your ID. ID verification might still be done at arrival, but only once and a token/credential of clearance is now on your phone. Which you can use to check-in on the way to your hotel, receiving then mobile NFC keys for your room.
With the push of a button you can allow the hotel to learn more about your preferences for this stay. Having these preferences in mind, the virtual concierge will suggest activities co-curated by local destination experts.
The digital city pass issued by your hotel authorizes you for a discount at many attractions. Renting a car is a breeze: with your digital ID and driver license all can be done online. Or, if you are in the right city (e.g San Francisco), you could even already use one of the autonomous robotaxis.
It is always you in control – in a way, now you are the API.