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Super ID

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I got ourselves a National ID when we chanced upon a registration center at the mall and saw that there were no worrisome queues. I am in no mood to add another ID to my wallet but we were already there and the process looked relatively quick and safe so we spent around 15 minutes to apply for one. The card will be mailed to our home address in two to three months and that is when I will figure out what to do with that additional ID card.

As far as government ID cards go, I already have a Unified Multipurpose ID (UMID) that I hardly use. It’s been living in my wallet ever since I got it around five years ago but because my driver’s license is my primary ID, the newfangled UMID hardly gets any use. My driver’s license is in the easy access slot of my wallet while the UMID is in the reserve slot so the latter has been removed from the wallet and seen the light of day probably less than 10 times ever since I got it.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t get another ID card if the current ones I have work perfectly fine. But you’ll never know what our government will require just to justify what we spent on this new ID so I figured that there is nothing to lose with getting the new national ID now that the queues were still short and the process looked relatively hassle-free.

I’m not excited about this new ID because, aside from the additional requirement of biometrics that included fingerprint and iris scans, it is just another piece of plastic that will fatten up guys’ wallets, adding discomfort to aging butts and making skinny jeans look extra ridiculous.

What would’ve gotten me excited about a new ID is if it were given super powers that would allow it to become extra useful and convenient. I’d be down for getting this new ID if it had been given the capability to host multiple chips that would allow it to be used as national ID, driver’s license, credit card and ATM. Imagine how slim our wallets could be if the new national ID could replace all those cards that take up so much plastic and so much space.

I know that there are privacy advocates who wouldn’t want one piece of plastic to contain and potentially give away so much information but if we are already going that way, why don’t we go all in and just give today’s national ID as much functionality and integration as it can handle? We can give options for the Luddites who can have a simple piece of plastic with their name and photo on it but also provide a souped up, hyper extendable version that can be a useful and convenient super card.

Of course, such coordination might be too much to ask. For starters, government agencies that need to access to the ID, such as the Philippine Statistics Authority, Land Transportation Office, Professional Regulation Commission, SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth will have to coordinate. Then, there are the private financial institutions if we are going to add programmable functionality that will give it ATM and credit capabilities. Add to the mix the discount clubs, rewards programs, homeowners associations, employers and schools and universities that also require IDs.

Imagine the amount of plastic and bulk we could save if our government and private sector only bothered to sit down and come up with a “Super ID” concept before launching another redundant ID initiative that cost taxpayers more billions while basically adding almost no innovation, incentive or functionality.

If you come to think of it, the Filipino taxpayer basically spent billions to add biometrics to the 10-year-old UMID. We will still register for it and use it because we have no choice but it could’ve been a much better ID if only our government were more visionary.

What a waste of money.*

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