The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is planning to enable the kind of people who use Apple Pay to also use their smartphones for storing their driving licences - with the scheme being tested this year prior to a roll-out in 2018.
According to the business plan, the DVLA: "During 2017-18 we will be developing a quick, easy and secure service to allow customers to view a representation of their driving licence on their smartphone. "
However, the aim is not to replace the existing card-based licences, but to run the scheme alongside it.
The business plan continues: "The driver will be in control of their data, and this can be used to share and validate driver information with trusted third parties through a secure website.
"This service will not replace the full driving licence. The digital licence service will only be available to driving licence holders who have authenticated themselves on gov.uk through the existing driving licence service.
"This service will be available 24/7, wherever the driver has a web connection. We will develop a private beta service by September 2017."
The DVLA has been working on integrating driving licences with smartphones for some time. Indeed, DVLA chief executive Oliver Morley teased the plans in May 2016 when he tweeted an image from his smartphone, featuring his driving licence, together with the message: "So here's a little prototype we're working on."
Back then, however, the DVLA said that it had no particular launch date in mind, although Morley admitted that the discontinuance of the paper counterpart did help make it possible.
It comes as the government prepares to invest a total of £200m - £100m from taxpayers, and the rest from industry - into research and research infrastructure to support the development of autonomous vehicles.
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