Your driving licence could be installed on your smartphone which, eventually, could see the disappearance of the plastic driving licence.

A tweet from the DVLA’s CEO Oliver Morley @omorley1 which teased ‘so here’s a little prototype of something we’re working on #drivinglicence’ last week (13 May) has sparked a series of headlines suggesting the end of the plastic card driving licence.

A digital licence?

It would follow the abolition of the paper part of the driving licence which was withdrawn last year and would further reinforce the government’s digital drive.

At the moment, it’s just a prototype but the tweet suggests we could be heading for a new era in the way driving licences are used and issued whilst from Apple’s point of view, it looks like they could be another step further to enabling us to leave our wallets and purses at home.

Like the way we can store our payment cards in the Apple Pay payment system, which enables payment to be made using your phone and not your card, Morley’s picture shows the driving licence could also be hosted in the same place along with passes such as tickets and loyalty cards.

Whilst the image shows an iPhone, we would assume the prototype would also be rolled out to other smartphones.

According to the image, currently the only information we have to go on, the phone stored driving licence includes your picture alongside your name, birth date, the date of issue for the licence and its expiry.

The plastic driving licence card also includes your address, signature and the categories of vehicles you are qualified to drive whilst the reverse also lists the valid from and to date of each vehicle category for which your licence is valid.

More or less secure than card?

The twitterati have been quick to respond raising issues such as security and the apparent ease of faking a licence.

Of course, it is likely to be connected to a database or other feature which would allow verification or a quick check system, similar to those in place for digital tickets.

And, there are arguments a digital solution would increase security as there would be no need to send a card in the post and risk interception en route.

Trials in other countries

According to the report in The Telegraph, digital driving licences have been trialled in the US state of Iowa and New South Wales in Australia.

When the likes of De La Rue, which prints many of the world’s passports, has said it is investigating the possibility of paperless passports, it would seem a digital driving licence is feasible and even likely.

The BBC, meanwhile, reports Morley as saying the smartphone driving licence will be an ‘add-on’ rather than a replacement for the card.

What if your battery runs out?

Smartphones are obviously not without their downside, as The Telegraph points out, what happens if your smartphone runs out of juice at the time you are required to produce your driving licence?!

Whilst motoring organisation the RAC think digitalising the driving licence makes sense, it also tackles the battery issue. RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Plans to take the driving licence digital make a lot of practical sense – after all, the paper-based counterpart licence and tax disc were both phased out, albeit with a few issues. It is not going to mean the photocard licence disappears anytime soon though. Drivers will still need to be able to prove their identity with a physical card in the event of their smartphone battery failing.

“A natural fear will be that anything digital is more open to interference and hacking, so the security of drivers’ identities must be at the top of the DVLA’s list as they develop this tool.”