Need to ID people quickly and accurately in your business or customer processes? Identity Document (ID) scanning on a mobile app or website is an easy to deploy option.
ID checks have historically been a frustrating, time-consuming process relying on visual document inspection and manually inputting data. In today’s fast-paced world, this simply won’t cut it.
Many different industries are turning to technology to integrate ID scanning capabilities into their customer and employee-facing processes to capture information with more speed and accuracy, to reduce friction and comply with increasing regulations.
of organizations believe human error is the biggest contributor to data inaccuracy.
What is ID scanning and why is it important?
ID scanning software extracts data from identity documents such as ID cards, passports or drivers’ licenses to produce a digital, queryable and human readable version of the data. It is faster and more reliable than traditional manual ID checks. Automated ID scanning also bakes in an audit trail of what ID checks are happening and the reasons why.
ID scanning is a form of computer vision. This is the branch of computing that enables computers to “see” and interpret the visual world.
Computer vision is a broad field and the algorithms used are specific to the use case and type of data being extracted and interpreted. Barcode scanning, text recognition (or optical character recognition/OCR) and image recognition are all types of computer vision.
What data can be extracted from IDs?
There are multiple types of data that can be extracted from IDs – and many different forms of IDs. You don’t necessarily need to extract all the data. The decision will depend on your location, the type of ID you are scanning and your use case.
- Visual Inspection Zones: Front of ID Documents without Machine Readable Data:
A visual inspection zone is simply the part of an ID that contains printed personal details – such as name or date of birth. Data from drivers licenses in the EU and UK, and many other drivers licenses and ID cards, can only be captured by scanning personal details from the visual inspection zone using text recognition (often referred to as optical character recognition/OCR).
- Identity Photos: All IDs:
Almost all IDs include an identity photo. In many scenarios an employee will need to review and even store this image to compare it to the person presenting it as a form of visual verification. ID scanning software can extract the photo and either:
- Present it to the user clearly so that it can be used to check if it matches the face of the real person presenting it.
- Use image recognition software to automate comparison of the identity photo with the person presenting the ID.
- Machine Readable Zones (MRZ): Passports, Visas and ID Cards:
Machine Readable Zones are the string of letters, numbers and symbols you’ve probably seen at the bottom of the scannable page of your passport. They encode the personal details in the ID together with fraud detection numbers (or a checksum) in a standardized format for greater accuracy and additional security.
- MRZs are also “read” through text recognition but a specialist form of this.
- Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD) include many countries’ ID cards, all passports and visa stickers. These documents are standardized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
- PDF417 Barcodes: Drivers Licenses:
PDF417 barcodes encode the personal data in an ID into a barcode that can be scanned. They are used on all drivers licenses in Canada and those issued in the USA by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), and also on US Military IDs.
When would you want to scan an ID?
Broadly, there are three different scenarios where a business would want to scan an ID:
1. What is on the ID?
For many ID scanning use cases, it’s sufficient simply to extract the data accurately and securely. The data can then be queried to perform basic checks.
For example, a date of birth printed on an ID can be checked to ensure that the person is indeed overage. Or an airline can check whether the name on a passport or identity card matches the name on a boarding pass.
2. Is the ID real?
The second scenario is when fake IDs present a business risk (for example, if a business sells age-restricted goods).
There are multiple methods used to produce fake IDs, therefore multiple detection methods need to be used. Fake IDs also vary widely in their level of sophistication, from the mass-produced fakes often used by under-age drinkers to extremely sophisticated bespoke fake IDs used by criminals for activities such as money laundering or fleeing law enforcement by leaving a legal jurisdiction.
Fake ID detection methods might include anything from checking expiration dates, to checking elements of the technical structure of an ID that forgers find it difficult to reproduce. This can include checking elements invisible to the naked eye.
The more methods of fake ID detection you use, the greater the chance of detecting a fake ID. However, some methods can mean long and expensive processes that are not practical or scalable for many use cases. Businesses typically do a risk-benefit analysis to decide on the level of fake ID detection they need based on factors such as value of goods, regulatory risk and the type of fake IDs likely to be encountered.
3. Is the user of the ID the owner of the ID?
The third scenario is to check whether, even if an ID appears authentic, the person presenting the ID in fact owns it. For example, for self-serve verification on a website you might want to check for what is known as “liveness” – that the ID being scanned in is not just a photocopy. Or you might want to use image recognition to compare the photo on the front of the ID with the person presenting it.
ID Scanning on Smartphones
A smartphone enabled with smart data capture and ID scanning software gives anybody needing to check a person’s identity instant access to a handy mobile ID scanning tool.
This helps to reduce delays or disruption and eliminate human errors.
Watch it in action:
Flexibility with different ways to scan
ID scanning capabilities can be integrated to help digitalize and automate processes using either native mobile apps, web apps or websites.
Native apps and web apps deliver different user experiences, and each have their own advantages in terms of deployment, delivery, and functionality.
Native apps are developed for a specific operating system (OS), which makes them perfectly compatible with a smart device’s features, and allows them to finely control the camera, microphone or accelerometer. The user must download and install the app, which is stored and run on the device itself (even when offline). It must be updated as new releases become available. Native apps offer a slick user experience, and increased functionality.
For employee-led ID scanning scenarios, such as passport checks at the airport or ID checks for delivering age-restricted goods, a native app can be beneficial as it does not require internet access. This means that your employee can quickly scan an ID and verify identity and age from anywhere without limitations.
Web apps are accessed through a web browser so no download, installation or user updates are required. Any camera-enabled smart device can become an enterprise-grade barcode scanner just by opening a web browser app, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.
Integrating ID Scanning software into web apps can greatly benefit low volume scanning scenarios, such as loyalty sign up forms. This is because your customers can complete this process remotely, without employee assistance or needing to download an app.
Where and how ID scanning is used
There are many examples of where ID scanning is used, from airport check in to delivery on your doorstep, from retail stores to restaurants. Here we look at some of the different scenarios and how deploying ID scanning software on smart devices can help you to create differentiated customer and employee experiences.
ID scanning software can be integrated into employee apps for fast and seamless onboarding of new, temporary or seasonal workers such as delivery drivers, accommodation hosts or taxi drivers.
Providing a flexible way to scale the workforce while remaining compliant, new workers can simply scan their driving license or other identity documents to record personal information and confirm relevant details, such as their status, quickly and easily as a registered driver.
Completing forms is a breeze, as scanning the ID reduces time spent on manual data entry, and eliminates mistakes caused by human error.
This feature is especially useful if you’re onboarding large numbers of holiday workers, for example when ramping up for seasonal peaks, allowing the business to scale at the speed of need.
Age verified delivery
Compliance issues around the purchase and delivery of age-restricted goods is a serious business and one which is growing in magnitude. For example, age-restricted deliveries like alcohol and mail order prescriptions have skyrocketed.
Such deliveries traditionally required drivers to visually or manually verify IDs on the doorstep. Not only can this increase dwell time for each delivery, reduce earnings of drivers on a ‘per drop’ basis, but can lead to non-compliance issues.
A recent Serve Legal compliance audit found that only 45% of rapid delivery drivers asked recipients for proof of age when delivering orders requiring ID verification, leaving delivery companies to face legal and financial penalties, along with reputational risk.
Introducing automated ID verification apps mobile devices will instantly increase your compliance rates. It offers quick and easy age verification on doorsteps, in bars and restaurants or at the curbside.
See how easy it is to verify a person’s ID on the doorstep.
Loyalty card scanning
Customers increasingly expect a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, and loyalty programs are an important aspect – not only for delivering customer value but for the retailer to gain valuable data and insights into consumer behavior.
Despite the promise of rewards, special offers and tailored promotions many customers suffer from ‘app fatigue’ when asked to install new apps to their device – research by PYMNTS suggests that 77% of consumers keep just five or fewer merchant apps on their mobile phones.
Adding ID scanning to customer-facing retail apps simplifies and speeds up the app adoption process for your customers. By scanning their ID and/or loyalty card, the customer’s personal information is extracted and processed automatically, eliminating the need for manual data input.
Passport scanning /Self check-in
Many airlines are shifting from costly fixed passenger identification scanners to more cost-effective smartphone-based ID scanning with mobile agents.
ID scanning on mobile devices makes passport and boarding pass checks at the airport fast, flexible and efficient, as staff can ID passengers on-the-go – at check-in or at gates, quickly processing a wide variety of machine-readable ID documents including ID cards, driving licenses, and visa stickers.
ID scanning software also enables passengers to self-check in by scanning their passports at home during online check-in on the airline’s website or app.
Mobile or self-check in, speeds up airport workflows, making boarding and travel operations more seamless and convenient. Software can also verify document authenticity by reading the RFID chip on ePassports to maintain security.
ID scanning essentials
Performance is critical
Watch our on-demand webinar for tips on choosing a successful ID scanning solution.
In every ID scanning use case, accuracy is essential.
The scanning app also needs to be accurate on the devices and in the real life conditions in which it will be used.
Smartphones may be older models, documents may be damaged, lighting may be poor or causing glare, and scanning may be at awkward angles. Any failure causes friction and frustration, resulting in a poor experience and poor engagement.
For most use cases you should look for a >95% accuracy rate for scanning, with 100% accuracy for date of birth and document number.
To ensure accuracy, you should also look for a broad range of document coverage, including edge cases and alternative IDs. Be wary of any software that only supports the latest version of an ID document – IDs are often valid and in circulation for 10 years.
See the list of documents Scandit covers.
For ID scanning use cases where checking IDs is part of a time-pressured workflow, speed is also essential to deliver the optimum experience.
A bank checking the ID of someone opening an account can typically afford to take some time verifying it. However, ID checks in scenarios such as last-mile delivery or verifying passports at a gate in an airport need to be much faster to avoid poor customer experience.
Data must be instantly parsed and displayed in the UI, so that the employee or customers can proceed with the process.
If this process takes more than 2 seconds user adoption is reduced. As with accuracy, it is also essential to test your ID scanning app on the devices and in the real-life conditions in which it will be used.
Consider whether you can rely on connectivity in the locations in which ID scanning will take place. Large grocery stores often have patchy WiFi, and delivery drivers will often experience connection black spots. This will help to determine whether a cloud-based solution is suitable, or whether you need an app that can also work in offline mode.
Industry-leading scanning performance from Scandit has a 100% accuracy rate for IDs with PDF417 and a minimum success rate of 95% for data in machine readable and visual inspection zones.
On average, IDs can be scanned in less than 1 second.
Security is always top of mind when it comes to ID scanning, as personally identifiable information (PII) is by default being processed.
Best practice to reduce risk includes:
- All data extraction and processing happens on the device.
- By default, no personal data leaves the device
- Any transmitted data is encrypted
With Scandit ID scanning, all data is processed within the scanning device itself and never stored or shared, which ensures maximum security, data privacy and compliance with data protection laws including General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Learn more about Scandit’s approach to security.
An ID scanning solution should be able to embed seamlessly into your existing workflows, ecosystem and device fleet. You should look for a solution that:
- Directly supports the platforms or frameworks you use.
- Supports the models of smart devices that will be used – for example, if delivery drivers are using a company app on their own cellphones. This may include low-end devices that lack autofocus.
- Offers more than just documentation and community support. The security-critical nature of ID scanning makes relying on sources which can be unreliable and go out of date quickly a business risk.
- Has software support that monitors changes to all ID types and continuously updates the parser to ensure the most reliable scanning results. Building a parser in-house can take 10-20 months – and maintaining a parser can use up 25% of a full time employee’s working time.
It’s always best to start with a small pilot deployment to test with real IDs, real devices and real-world scenarios.
Scandit’s ID scanning solution
Scandit’s fast, accurate and secure ID scanning software supports over 20,000 mobile device models and works on all major operating systems and frameworks. It can be added to both native and web applications.
- Fully maintained parsers
- Dedicated support team
- Fast and easy integration with a simple and well-documented SDK
- Covers over 2000 documents worldwide
- Scans each ID in less than 1 second
- Scans Visual Inspection Zones (VIZ), Machine Readable Zones (MRZ) and PDF417 barcodes
- Scans Visual Inspection Zones (VIZ), Machine Readable Zones (MRZ) and PDF417 barcodes
- Can be used to both extract data and identify fake IDs
- Learn more about Scandit’s software in our ID Scanning & Validation Product Brochure