by Arnaud Laurans, Gemalto

The smart card eDriver license scheme, which was piloted in Nuevo León last year, has proved beneficial in reducing identity theft, insurance fraud and has streamlined the driver license administration process. The success of the pilot has meant that the project is now set to expand further into the country.

Nuevo León

The capital city of the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León, Monterrey, is the third most populated area in Mexico. Known as the ‘City of the Mountains’, Monterrey has a population of 1.13 million and in 2005, had 840,000 valid driver licenses in circulation for some 1.5 million vehicles, when a state law was passed for the introduction of a new eDriver license program.

The challenge

Since the late 1990’s, the number of vehicles on the roads of Monterrey has more than doubled and identity theft has become a growing concern. The traditional driver licenses offered limited security features and were extremely vulnerable to fraud, one of the reasons why the Instituto de Control Vehicular (ICV), a decentralized public body and part of the local government of the state of Nuevo León, requested a new scheme in order to completely restructure the existing system.The new scheme had to offer a safe and secure way to make administration easier, while reducing the opportunity for identity fraud and providing a reliable platform for the safe exchange of private data among various government departments. Criteria were also set for the scheme to comply with official eID document requirements – so the document could be accepted as proof of identity in banks and other institutions – and were also expected to take advantage of the latest technologies, which could be upgraded in the future for multi-application use. The solution is comprised of a smart card platform that securely stores the driver’s information and a sophisticated card body with specific security features that makes it difficult to copy and counterfeit. The eDriver license is a microprocessor-based eID document, which entitles a specific person to drive a certain category of vehicle. The microprocessor securely stores a picture of the holder, his/her blood type and personal credentials (including biometric fingerprints) to enable a digital signature. The microprocessor also contains the history of the holder’s convictions, allowing the traffic authorities to easily monitor a driver’s behavior on the roads and could, in the future, be used for insurance companies to calculate policy costs. Driver enrolment and card personalization is done on the spot when a citizen applies for a new license. The original documents presented during enrolment are scanned and sent online with the collected data (picture, fingerprints and signature)through a secure communication network to a central database for checking and storage.

Citizen benefits

Since the implementation of the scheme, Monterrey citizens now have the peace of mind that a secure eDocument brings as the potential for identity theft has been radically reduced, and the cards can also be used as a trusted form of ID with banks and other establishments. The card also opens up the potential for future eCard schemes such as healthcare, which will serve to make the Monterrey citizen experience simpler, safer and more secure.

State benefits

The Nuevo León state now enjoys a fast, secure and user-friendly scheme for driver registration, which reduces fraud, streamlines administration costs and acts as a reliable ID document. The card’s efficiency in storing extensive driver information, such as details of previous accidents and traffic violations, is a big draw for licensing authorities and police alike.Data from the cards can be scanned into portable card readers using secure technology that saves time and eliminates the need for excess paperwork.

Visibly effective results

As well as proving useful for traffic authorities in the country, the smart card eDriver licenses are most importantly benefiting drivers in the fight against identity theft. Because the smart card stores its owner’s photograph and fingerprints, the license is a watertight credential, and people who want to obtain credit, cash checks or open bank accounts are using it as ID and banks are able to read the cards using their existing POS payment terminals.Another advantage for drivers is lower insurance costs, as swift and reliable access to drivers’ histories enables insurance companies to issue more accurate premiums.The state of Nuevo León’s Board for Transport and Roads is delighted with the scheme – “The electronic licenses allows us to collect information about drivers and their vehicles instantly, whereas before this process would take a lot of time, especially when data had to travel across municipality borders,” says Dr Hernán Villareal, the department’s executive director. He adds that the eDriver licenses also serve an additional purpose in protecting the public from one of Mexico’s more controversial driving issues – bribe-taking by unscrupulous officials. “With this technology, we know that tickets for traffic offenses can be issued remotely, which enables us to fight corruption.”Mexico is the second Latin American country to introduce the eDriver license after El Salvador. Following the success of the cards in Nuevo León, the states of Veracruz, Sonora and México are now switching to eDriver licenses as well.

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