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Insight: Report from EC Conference - Schengen Innovative Technologies

On the 28th of March 2023, the European Commission, in collaboration with Europol and Frontex, held a conference on innovative technologies for strengthening the Schengen area. In this blog post the key takeaways from the subsequent report, issued on 26th July 2023, reveals the close alignment between the innovations the EC seeks, fit with an NFC-First approach to identity verification.

“EU-wide standardisation will lead to easier collaboration with industry.”

Well-implemented standardisation forms the basis of many successful innovations. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Doc 9303, allows for Near Field Communication (NFC) identity verification of documents from over 170 countries. Uptake of Electronically Machine Readable Travel Documents (eMRTD) by states is growing all the time, allowing for even more usage of NFC for the wide range of industries it is applicable too. Inverid’s remote identity verification solution ReadID is already adopted in a large variety of industries, including the Travel and Borders sector and will continue to be part of the ECs vision of an innovative Schengen area.

“Innovative solutions already exist, but uptake needs to be purposeful. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.”

ReadID has been proven for use in the Travel and Borders industry through application in, amongst others, the UK Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme, the UK Generic Identity Verification programme (GIDV), and Eurostar’s SmartCheck solution. These use cases all have a clear purpose, whether it be creating seamless travel for passengers or securely registering one’s immigration status with the government. When combined, these cases have successfully verified the identities of tens of millions of individuals, proving that NFC identity verification is an innovative solution with clear purposeful uptake and proven benefits. ReadID is not reinventing the wheel but perfecting it by creating the safest method of checks for businesses while guaranteeing compliance and giving end users an easy to use and trustworthy experience.

“Several Member States argued that the Advanced Passenger Information (API) Directive needs to be revised to include intra-EU flights.”

Inverid has produced multiple blogs on why NFC is ideal for the European Commission’s proposed revisions to the collection of Advance Passenger Information. This permits the remote passenger self-service model to reduce the burden and cost on airline and airport infrastructure. For intra-EU travel, remote passenger self-service is ideal, as passenger son these shorter haul flights often do not require check-in or bag drop by the passenger. An example of this kind of passenger self-service model is the Eurostar SmartCheck solution. The NFC First approach is further supported by the highest volume of intra-EU flights being underatke by EU nationals with NFC enabled ePassports and eID cards. This fully automates the exit checks at the British border in St Pancras Station thanks to Inverid’s ReadID technology and partner iProov’s biometric eGates. ReadID's NFC technology is easily integrated into partners, or travel providers (airlines, cruise lines, rail services, etc) own apps to support the seamless experience.

“Beyond aviation, there is an operational need for the processing of passenger data from other modes of transport (maritime, rail, coaches)”

There is one form of technology that is universal across all modes of travel- a passenger’s smartphone. When the solution of implemented in a secure manner, as we do, smartphones are an ideal way to collect passenger data, as seen with Eurostar SmartCheck. Aviation is not the only border crossing travel vertical that can benefit from streamlined processing of passenger information; it is achievable for every sector. Smartphone based technologies, being accessible to almost all passengers and travellers are the best building block to streamlining this process.

“Implementation of certain innovative technologies is impossible due to the lack of dedicated national legislation.”

Harmonisation of legislation is critical for the benefits of NFC-First verification, to passengers, carriers and governments alike. As decentralised digital identities, such as those that will be provided for remote access to public services within the EU in the form of upcoming EU Digital Identity Wallets, any state legislation that frustrates secure identity verification for the initial binding of a passenger identity must be addressed. Inverid fully supports and endorses the need to balance passenger privacy and efficacy and promotes national, EU and International standards for those supplying capability in this market, such as our eIDAS Qualified Trust Provider and Service Organization Control 2 (SOC2) Type 2 accreditations.

“Existing technological solutions can potentially be expanded to additional transportation modes, allowing for the monitoring of passenger flows at maritime and land borders” – Eurostar

“Advancement of technology allows for more compact and portable devices, making border management more mobile and flexible.”

Once again, the ultimate portable device is a smartphone. Even basic models of Apple and Android smartphones have NFC capabilities, meaning practically any passenger can benefit from NFC identity verification technology. Secure biometric verification can also be carried out with a smartphone as the quality of the cameras and algorithms have rapidly improved over the past decade. This combination allows for innovating physical processes as well as digital ones, such as eGates that can be walked through, without the need to scan a passport or ticket thanks to facial scans on the move, with the face associated with travel documentation and necessary approvals.

“A unified standardised approach to data collection (defined push timings, data requirements, data format and transmission protocol) is required.”

This unified approach has been proposed by the European Commission for the travel industry in the form of revised Advance Passenger Information collection. NFC is ideal for this, and other forms of data collection from identity documents. Inverid travel and Borders expert Jim Slevin has written a number of blogs on NFC’s effectiveness in this area. However, another important aspect that must be unified is the quality of data collected. A standardised approach in collecting data is only useful if it tackles the quality of data it collects. For example, incorrect readings from Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology can be costly to correct, cause stress for the end user if it affects their ability to access a product or service and does lead to difficulties for pre-approval by authorities. This is not a problem with NFC and ReadID. The personal data is read directly from the chip in the identity document, allowing no room for incorrect interpretations via OCR.

“The law enforcement community needs to be proactive in the uptake of emerging technologies, in order to respond to new threats posed by their misuse by criminals.”

Not only does NFC identity verification make data collection convenient for carriers and passengers, but there is a further value. A remote self-service solution permits the detection and action for fraud-signals at a much earlier stage not possible with traditional methods of data collection at the port. For example, if an individual is trying to book a flight with a manipulated document, ReadID will detect this during passenger information collection and the appropriate authorities will be aware instantly, ahead of travel. ReadID provides personal data from a trustworthy source thanks to the NFC chips inside ICAO compliant identity documents. These are issued directly from the individual’s sate and are much more reliable than traditional methods of identity verification that included bank statements and bills being used to verify an individual’s address. Businesses, travel providers, and governments from over 170 countries can rest at ease knowing that the information they receive from ReadID is genuine and from the ultimate trustworthy source, with fraudulent attempts detected instantly and no reading mistakes.

For more information on how ReadID can benefit your travel and borders business, book a business demo with one of our specialists.


Try it yourself for free

Interested in NFC-based identity verification? Our free personal app ReadID Me is available in the App and Plays stores. No personal information is shared with Inverid or other parties; it is a client-only verification.

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