NSW expands digital driver's licence trial to the Eastern Beaches

Although a state-wide rollout was originally slated for this year, the NSW government has announced a further trial of the digital driver's licence for a handful of beach-side addresses in November.

Those with New South Wales-issued driver's licences living in Sydney's Eastern Beaches will be among the elite few who will qualify for the metro trial of a digital driver licence later this year.

More than 140,000 licence holders in the region will be eligible to participate in the November trial that will see the plastic identification card ditched for a smartphone-rendered copy, available via the Service NSW app.

Participants who opt in can 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 in the trial area.

"Smartphones have become de facto wallets, and we're using cutting-edge technology so that drivers can use a digital licence in everyday scenarios," Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello said on Monday.

Drivers in Bondi, Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, Bronte, Clovelly, Coogee, North Bondi, Queens Park, Randwick, South Coogee, Tamarama, Waverley, and parts of Sydney city that cover postcodes 2022, 2024, 2026, 2031, and 2034 will be able to participate in the trial.

Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith said Sydney's Eastern Beaches region is "tech savvy" and has more than 350 licensed venues and licence holders, and commented also that his region is an "ideal" trial location.

The trial follows the passage of legislation earlier this year to enable the state-wide rollout of the technology.

Amendments to the Road Transport Act 2013, the Photo Card Act 2005, the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007, and the Liquor Act 2007 allow a driver to use their digital licence for proof of identity and proof of age to be used where the physical card previously was.

ZDNet revealed in February that the state government had pencilled in mid-2018 for the go-live date of digital licences, after trials in Dubbo had proven successful.

According to Dominello, since the trial kicked off in Dubbo in November 2017, more than 1,400 people have participated.

"The [Digital Driver Licence] will provide additional levels of identity security and increased protection against identity fraud compared to the physical driver licence," he said in a statement previously.

Drivers who opt in will still be provided with a physical card, but will not be required to carry it with them.

The state government made the first wave of its digital licences available through the "My Licences" digital wallet in the Service NSW app in late 2016, which enables NSW residents to renew their licence and update their details without needing to visit a Service NSW centre.

The rollout of the technology is still subject to an implementation plan, but once rolled out, the digital driver's licence will join the recreational fishing, responsible service of alcohol, and responsible conduct of gambling competency cards in the digital wallet. NSW residents are already able to renew their driver's licence and view, pay, and contest infringement notices via the Service NSW smartphone app.

South Australians have had the option to hold digital driver's licences on their phones since September.

The SA app presents driver's licences in real time, with expired or suspended licences showing a large orange or red bar at the bottom. It also has a "shake to animate" feature to show the licence is not a photo or a screenshot -- the screenshot function is actually disabled within the app.

The app generates a one-time barcode, which refreshes every 30 seconds, to prevent counterfeit licences from being used. Anyone, including pubs and clubs, can scan the licences to ensure that they are genuine.

To register for the trial drivers need to create a MyServiceNSW Account at www.service.nsw.gov.au and further instructions will issued by the state government in November.

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