Australia and New Zealand to Trial Cloud Passports

29th Oct 2015

The idea of cloud passports was one of 392 presented at the "DFAT Ideas Challenge". The hackathon had the department's staff in Canberra and 110 missions across the globe pitch ideas that they thought could and would radically change business.

The ten best ideas were then pitched to the following four judges, much like Shark Tank:

- Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop

- Assistant Minister Steve Ciobo

- Secretary Peter Varghese

- Chris Vein from the World Bank

In the end, it was cloud passports that won the panel of judges over.

The biggest problem with traditional passports is that, like all documents, they can easily be lost and this could make customs quite a chore.

In fact, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, in 2014-15, a total of 38,718 passengers reported their passports as either lost or stolen and the previous year wasn't any better with 38,689 travel documents reported missing.

With cloud passports, travelers wouldn't have to carry their passports with them, so the risk of losing them would be nonexistent. Instead, the passenger's biometric data would be safely stored in a cloud.

Of course, there are some challenges to be dealt with before Australian passengers can enjoy passport-less travel, but both Australia and New Zealand are already preparing for trialing cloud passports.

Minister Bishop confirmed this, saying:

"We're in discussions with New Zealand and if we're able to put in place the appropriate requirements, including security, then it's something we'd like to trial and implement."

Generally, however, she was quite upbeat about the whole concept:

"I think it will go global."

Of course, it remains to be seen if and how Australian carriers, such as Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar, will implement cloud passports in their operations.