NSW drivers unable to add digital licence as high demand downs app capability

Service NSW is advising customers to return to the app later to add a digital driver licence, as it was 'a little busy' on Tuesday morning.

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Screenshot: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

The New South Wales government has finally made driver licences available through the Service NSW app, after years of touting the initiative as "coming soon".

The Digital Driver Licence is the digital version of the NSW Driver Licence, and it is now legal for use across NSW.

However on Tuesday morning, licence-holders wishing to switch to a digital copy were told to return later to the app, after a high demand resulted in the feature being unavailable,

See also: No more clerk with a rubber stamp: Service NSW touts its people as key to its success

"The NSW Digital Driver Licence (DDL) is now in a live environment and some testing is still underway. Customers who experience delays are encouraged to download the DDL at a later time," Service NSW wrote on its website.

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Screenshot: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

In attempting to add a digital version of their licence, users were presented with a message that read: "We're a little busy. Many people are loading their digital licences right now Please try again".

The capability follows the initial trial of the initiative in Dubbo in late 2017, which allowed participants to use their digital driver licence for proof-of-identity and proof-of-age to gain entry into pubs and clubs, as well as for roadside police checks.

metro trial of the digital driver licence then began in November 2018 across Sydney's Eastern Beaches, allowing more than 140,000 licence holders in the region to ditch the plastic identification card for the smartphone-rendered copy.

The government in late May then announced it had extended the trial to Albury in the state's south.

Earlier this month, Service NSW chief digital and product officer Chris Fechner told ZDNet the state-wide rollout of digital driver licences was yet to be confirmed, due to the agency taking caution about releasing the capability before it was ready.

"The release date is a not a decision for me, but our focus has been to make that product as good as it can be, and make sure it works for people first time," he said.

"It's about understanding how it's going to be taken up, the usage model it's going to have, whether it's going to be for the right to drive, whether it's for identity services, who's going to use it, how we pick it up, but also the scalability."

Fechner said the main reason for this is because the digital driver licence is the "highest risk item" among the different digital licences that the NSW government plans to make available.

"So, making sure it's right is our biggest priority," he said.

The initial go-live date was promised to be after the state election, which took place on March 23. However, the state government said it was allowing for extra time to test Service NSW's online platforms.

Citizens were then told during the NSW 2019-20 Budget that Service NSW was planning on rolling out digital driver's licences across the state in August.

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