Toby Berger, Affinidi
"The industry needs to really come together and want to solve it as a group instead of worrying about their individual best interests."
Quote from Toby Berger, director of travel at Affinidi, in an article on PhocusWire this week on why travel brands should embrace verifiable ID.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
"It requires industry, it requires technology, it requires governments," says Affinidi's Toby Berger, when asked what needs to happen next to push decentralized ID into the maintream, industry-wide.
There is hope among those operating in this area that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on what data transfer and the concept of data ownership can do, given that travelers are now required - more often than not at the moment - to have a myriad of documentation and authorizations to get on a plane, stay in a hotel, experience an activity... even eat out.
The concept of decentralized, verifiable ID is a sound one: a seamless traveler experience (remember that?), personalization and efficiency.
But anyone who has worked within or observed the travel, tourism and hospitality industry knows, collaboration is not something that the business is particularly known for or can be proud of, in many regards.
Industry standards often take years and multiple committees and oversight groups to establish, let alone agree on and implement.
The airline and hospitality sectors have over many decades eventually come together to agree on certain protocols to ensure different tasks can be done more efficiently, using code or systems or processes for the greater good.
The OpenTravel Alliance, for example, was a central point in many of these discussions. IATA, too, has taken the airline technology ecosystem by the scruff of the neck over the last decade to establish the New Distribution Capability standard and OneOrder process.
Most of these efforts have not involved governments or regional bodies - institutions that are generally not held up as bastions of quick and affirmative action, with multiple partners.
This is why the optimism about implementing an overhaul of the very fabric of traveler identity and data must be greeted with a fair amount of skepticism - if only to add a dose of realism into the equation.
The big caveat to introduce into this analysis is that the pandemic (back to that) has, in fact, bolstered the idea that collaboration can be a good thing and done with a little more gusto and speed than with previous efforts in other areas.
Governments, health agencies, travel brands and many other parties worked together to get certain requirements and digital documents in place to allow people to get on planes and stay in hotels once more.
It's a tremendous leap to consider, but that spirit of teamwork could - and should - be the framework that all of those with a vested interest will use to move things forward.
Stranger things have happened.
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PhocusWire's editorials examine a trend or development highlighted in an article during the week.