Government officials have left open the possibility the incoming health and social services access card might one day be used for a range of applications and identity checks following an industry briefing on Wednesday.
Office of Access Card representatives confirmed that card holders would be able to add data such as date of birth to the card, and that it would be capable of running multiple applications.
The government's draft legislation for the access card, to be introduced to Parliament next year, requires it only be used for health and social services. However, Office representatives yesterday canvassed several scenarios where the card may one day be used by business and other third parties.
During the briefing, industry representatives questioned Office representatives on scenarios where pensioners might want to use their access card to prove their concessional status, such as at the cinema or on public transport.
Concessional status will not be visible on the card itself; instead the card must be placed in a terminal to have its microchip read, which will hold concessional status details.
Office of Access Card chief technology architect Marie Johnson said the Office was consulting widely with stakeholder groups on the project, including different levels of government.
Several of these groups are involved with public transport.
"Each of the state transport providers is looking at improvements in the way they deliver their own services," said Johnson.
"And we're consulting with them on what those new models will actually be, and how they would actually like to work with us at both a standards level and also a consultative level.
"So where they're up to? They certainly haven't finished, and we will be working with them over the course of the project."
The access card already promises to replace up to 17 existing health and social services cards. In public transport, around 20 types of concessional cards are used, said Patricia Scott, secretary, Department of Human Services.
There was potential for public transport ticketing systems to integrate with the access card, according to Scott.
"The docket on the tickets are actually purchased as monthly and yearly or weekly tickets and they could facilitate the use of docking the card to see the concessional status on the chip," she said.
The access card will be introduced from 2008, with registration required to access benefits from 2010. The government says the new card will reduce fraud and provide more security and privacy.
The government expects to issue around 16 million cards in the first two years of the card's life.
About 50,000 health service providers such as hospitals and pharmacies will use the card and be able to share data with government agencies like Medicare and Centrelink over a network of terminals.
The government confirmed the data to be stored on the card at yesterday's briefing. The front of the card will show the card holder's name and photo, while the back will show signature, card number and expiry date. The card holder may also choose to include their date of birth.
The card's microchip, which Office officials told tenderers must be of a minimum 64K, will have Commonwealth and user controlled data.
The Commonwealth will control name, title (if requested), date of birth (if requested), gender, residential address, photo, digitised signature, card number, expiry date, PIN (optional), concession status, health care agreement card number, emergency payment number, and veterans data.
Card owner controlled data will include organ donor status, health alerts, mobile phone number, and emergency contact details.