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IATA tests blockchain-based passports that store health data such as COVID-19 tests and vaccination status

The IATA Travel Pass, which stores a passenger's health details on the blockchain, will start its testing phase in February.

Image by cedarjet201 from Pixabay

Tue, 26 Jan 2021, 06:35 am UTC

Blockchain technology is now being employed to keep international travels as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Starting next month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will begin testing the high-tech passports that are capable of storing a traveler’s health information such as COVID-19 testing results and their vaccination history.

IATA’s blockchain-based passport will undergo its first real-world testing, which is expected to take place by February, according to Cointelegraph. The move has the potential to reopen international travel which was severely affected due to global quarantine restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Known as the IATA Travel Pass, travelers can store their “health” passports on an app that will be installed on their smartphones. The app is capable of broadcasting and receiving updates of travelers’ health information to and from airlines, vaccination and testing centers, and other relevant government agencies.

“Within the airline app, passengers will be able to create a digital version of their passport, which is important when it comes to linking COVID-19 test results to the traveler’s identity,” explained Alan, head of IATA’s Airport, Passenger and Security Products, according to FutureTravelExperience.com. “Once the passenger has a digital version of their passport on their phone, they’ll go to the laboratory and scan a QR code, which creates a link between the passport details and the laboratory, so that they can verify the person’s identity.”

To protect their privacy, passengers have full control over how their data is shared. “This is the beauty of the technology we’re using; it puts the passenger in complete control of their data,” Hayden explained. “There’s no central database and nobody can hack it. The passenger owns their data and they share it with the airline. It’s so powerful and it’s probably one of the first-ever examples of blockchain technology being implemented in a way that benefits people.”

At the moment, four major airlines have signed up for the IATA Travel Pass testing phase. British Airways and Singapore Airlines will start testing in February while Emirates and Etihad will join the testing by April.

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