The International Air Transport Association will soon introduce blockchain-based passports that digitally store a person’s health information – specifically their COVID-19 test and vaccination status.
In a move that IATA says has the potential to reopen international relations and relax current global quarantine restrictions, a “health passport” in the form of an app will be saved on a user’s smartphone, with the first tests in The real world is expected to take place as early as February.
The app, known as the IATA Travel Pass, which provides a way to give travelers complete control over their own data, is also designed to act as a two-way communication tool that sends information to relevant governments, vaccination centers and airlines.
So far, four major airlines have signed up for the program. Singapore Airlines and British Airways plan to start testing in February, while Etihad and Emirates are currently forecasting a start date in April.
Alan Murray Hayden, director of airport, passenger and security products at IATA, praised the use of “powerful” blockchain technology in the program, adding that it was one of the few implementations of the technology that was clearly positive affects:
“That’s the beauty of the technology we use. It gives the passenger complete control over their data. There is no central database and nobody can hack it. The passenger owns his data and shares it with the airline. It is like that powerful and probably one of the first examples of blockchain technology implemented in a way that benefits people. “
The Travel Pass contains four main interactive components: the digital passport module; a lab app that allows data to be securely sent via test labs and the app itself; a global register of vaccination centers and a global register of current health requirements required by international travelers at any given time.
If the potential passenger’s health and vaccination status meets international requirements, the passenger would be ready to go, Hayden said.
“Now passengers have three important things on their phone – their digital passports, test results, and what we call ‘okay to travel’. The passengers can then choose whether this data should be shared in the airline app. You will be asked to submit your details. When they click Submit, they will be sent to the airline. From the passenger’s perspective, this is easy: with just a few clicks of the mouse, the airline now has all the passenger data and is 100% sure that the passenger can fly. “
Etihad airline passengers departing from Abu Dhabi will be the first to receive digital passports in the first quarter of 2021.