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Ready to Travel? Health Passports Will Make It Possible

The travel industry is one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, with air travel suffering the biggest falls. According to the US Travel Association, international travel spending in the United States decreased by 76% in 2020, while domestic travel expenses declined by 34%. Meanwhile, business travel expenditures went down by 70%, and leisure travel by 27%.

Moreover, the global airline industry faces a $94 billion loss through 2021, as projected by the Airports Council International (ACI) World’s sixth analysis on the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact.

Until quarantine protocols are lifted, travelers to many countries need to attest to or even present proof of their health status and COVID-19 test results. With vaccine rollouts across countries, people might soon be required to provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination records as well.

Current systems, however, often rely on the manual checking of paper documents. Physically inspecting these papers is too time-consuming for airport personnel. Likewise, securing these requirements, and bringing multiple printed documents for travel clearance are often a hassle for passengers. There is also the risk of someone forging their printed results to get past border control, putting others in danger of contracting the virus if the fraudster turns out to be positive.

To solve these problems, many organizations across the globe have started trials on health passports. This technology is seen as a viable solution to simplify border control while ensuring safety among passengers. It has also been regarded as a key to drive economic recovery in the travel sector and other industries.


What is a Health Passport, and How Does It Work?

A health passport is an app or digital certificate that can be presented as proof of someone’s health status, COVID test result, or vaccination record without revealing other sensitive personal health information (PHI). It is often utilized to determine if a person is fit to travel, but it can also be used to gain entry into offices, restaurants, sporting and entertainment venues, and other locations requiring an individual’s health clearance.

Depending on the provider, some health passports can allow users to connect with travel providers, get a list of travel requirements from the country of destination, and schedule a test from affiliate laboratories. While most solutions enable people to link to their healthcare accounts to retrieve their PHI, some allow users to upload their test results or other health records manually.

Several health passport solutions have already entered the market during the pandemic. Still, some disparities need to be addressed to ensure a problem-free implementation.


Challenges in Implementing Health Passports

The major hurdles faced by health passport providers include data privacy and security, interoperability and scalability, and convenience.

  • Data Privacy and Security

A survey conducted by the Travel Again Project, an advocacy organization, reveals that 20.8% of business and leisure travelers are still reluctant to take COVID tests before and during travel and share the results.

Bad actors can easily circumvent weak network defenses to breach data and use it fraudulently. PHI is highly valued on the black market, making this data an easy target for criminals. In the 2021 Protenus Breach Barometer, a stolen PHI record can be worth up to $1,000, depending on its completeness.

Health passport providers must ensure that their users’ sensitive data is protected and used only for its intended purpose. They must block fraudsters at the point of enrollment by authenticating their claimed identity and deploying a robust login procedure to ensure that only known users can access their accounts.

  • Interoperability and Scalability

With many health passports undergoing development and testing, it is improbable to have a single solution recognized and adopted globally in the travel industry and other sectors. Therefore, technologies must be versatile to work with various systems implemented across institutions and international borders.

Consequently, health passports should link seamlessly with trusted digital health platforms to allow the secure and easy retrieval of the user’s PHI. Furthermore, they should enable efficient management and sharing of the data among locations the user will visit.

As organizations intend to use health passports to speed up economic recovery, these apps must also support a rapid and wide-scale rollout, catering to large volumes of users daily.

  • Convenience

Remembering usernames, passwords, and other knowledge-based authentication (KBA) methods when creating and accessing new accounts is inconvenient, error-prone, and frustrating for users.

Health passports should offer an easy-to-use interface with minimal friction with strong data security at every turn – from onboarding to login and accessing the user’s data from their online lab accounts and healthcare portals.


Digital Identity Verification as the Key to an Efficient Health Passport Program 

Mobile facial biometric identity verification solutions can meet the challenges of implementing efficient health passports. These technologies ensure the secure onboarding of users by authenticating their identity at the point of enrollment.

Consumers can simply use their camera-enabled mobile devices to perform the identity proofing process and active liveness confirmation in just a few seconds, minimizing friction as much as possible. To confirm the authenticity of the user’s provided valid ID, they can quickly take a photo of their driver’s license with the same mobile device and submit the information for automated driver’s license authentication.

Upon creating their accounts, users can enable passwordless login that utilizes robust multi-factor authentication (MFA) that binds trusted identity to the device. It provides a layered barrier against fraudulent attempts and denies access to the account if a person cannot satisfy the required login credentials.

Since mobile facial biometric identity proofing solutions can be easily integrated into commonly used mobile devices, they can support interoperability and scalability on an international level while eliminating the need for additional hardware and complex software installation.

Trusted providers like authID offer a suite of biometric identity solutions to aid health passport initiatives.

authID‘s Verified™ provides trusted identity verification at the point of enrollment, harnessing mobile technology, anti-spoofing liveness confirmation, and automated identity document authentication to filter out fraudulent identities.

Verified™ extends the value of a proofed identity through FIDO2 strong authentication and passwordless login that helps organizations increase identity assurance with quick, low-friction user experiences on trusted mobile devices.

Verified™ delivers mobile facial biometric authentication offering a greater assurance than knowledge-based authentication (KBA) or other less efficient two-factor authentication (2FA) technologies. It ensures enhanced account security and captures biometric audit trails, confirming the owner’s identity and consent when logging into their accounts and accessing services.


Schedule a Demo with authID is a provider of an Identity Authentication platform that delivers a suite of secure, mobile, biometric identity solutions, available to any vertical, anywhere. authID‘s products meet the criteria for creating efficient health passports. Contact authID today at 1 (516) 778-5639 or click here to schedule a demo.