My Experience Registering And Using eID

Earlier this week, Ottawa-based Bluink has launched its mobile ID app in Ontario called eID. This app allows you to upload the following pieces of ID to your phone:

  • Drivers License
  • Passport
  • Health Card

On top of that, the app allows you to add the following:

  • Addresses
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Medical Information
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Credit Cards
  • Employment Info
  • Account Logins

Basically it’s billed as a secure one stop shop for all your personal info. I was intrigued by this so when it became available, I tested it out. You’ll need the following to set up your eID as they call it:

  • Drivers License
  • Passport

On top of that, as part of the registration process, you must be in your primary residence as the app uses location services to verify your location. The setup process goes like this:

  • The first thing you need to do is take a selfie. It’s done in a similar manner as registering your face on an iPhone with FaceID. I strongly recommend that you do so by having your phone at 90 degrees and looking straight at your phone. I found that out the hard way when the registration process failed because I had not done that. This is important as the company apparently uses this selfie to compare against the pictures on your Drivers License and Passport.
  • The next thing that you need to do is to add your Drivers License and Passport. Those are done using the rear facing camera and using an on screen template to line up your info so that the app can capture it. I strongly recommend placing your Drivers License on a dark surface as that makes it way easier to read. As for your Passport, the only Passports that are supported are Canadian ePassports which have an electronic chip that is encoded with the same information found on page 2 of the passport (surname, given name, date of birth and sex). It also has a digital picture of the bearer’s face. It will ask you to place about half your phone on the passport and for best results, I would remove the phone from its case if you use a case on your phone. I say this because the app had trouble reading the info from the chip on the ePassport while the phone had my UAG case on it. That’s curious because Apple Pay has always worked with this case on the phone, and ePassports work in a similar manner. Thus I am puzzled as to why this was an issue during this process.
  • Once that’s done you can add additional info. I added my Health Card and added my wife as an emergency contact. I didn’t add anything else as my health info is stored in Apple Health and passwords and the like are stored in eWallet.
  • Once I did that, it was time to create my eID by uploading and verifying all this info. My first attempt failed because it didn’t like selfie. My second and third attempts failed because it didn’t like the capture of my drivers license. But I had to do some trial and error to figure that out as the error message that it displayed was not at all helpful.

Now one thing to note is that you only get 5 tries to do this. According to the FAQ it is done to stop a fraudster from doing a brute force attack to get info onto the server. Speaking of the FAQ, they need to update it as it references 3 tries. But I only needed the three tries to get my info uploaded and verified. The net results are digital representations of your ID and a QR code that can be used by (presumably) government agencies and others to access your info. That’s kind of cool.

But there’s a catch.

This digital ID card can’t replace a physical card in law enforcement situations. That’s stated in the FAQ that I linked to above. The company does mention that various government bodies are working on digitizing ID card laws.  So someday in the future, this app might be much more useful than it is right now. Also, I will point out that eID doesn’t seem to be “fully baked” as transferring your eID from one phone to another isn’t possible right now. But that functionality is apparently coming soon.

You can download the app on iOS and Android for free. If you live in the province of Ontario, I’d have a look at it as this (hopefully) is going to be the future.

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