Blockchain technologyBlockchain startup ShoCard has developed a proof-of-concept focused on digital identity in partnership with a major IT firm that works with the airline industry.

The identity app, dubbed the SITA Digital Traveler Identity App, was formally unveiled today during the Air Transport IT Summit industry conference, held in Barcelona, Spain.  Using a blend of blockchain-based data and facial recognition techniques, the app is aimed at both streamlining how airlines verify passenger identities as well as facilitating real-time data flows at the airport.

With the app, a passenger uploads their travel documents, which are then encrypted and hashed on the bitcoin blockchain. The system provides the passenger with what is called a “Single Travel Token”, which can be presented to the airline in order to call up those documents using a public key. Any airline terminal connected to this system could then verify the identity of that passenger wherever they present this token.

Though the app is in the early stages, in remarks, representatives for SITA pointed to the project as a means to allow the company test the use of blockchain.

Further, the company indicated its support for new methods for distributing verification data between airline agents who might be separated by hundreds of miles, while at the same time avoiding the problems associated with storing troves of personal information – an attractive feature in an age of digital thieves hunting for exploitable customer data.

Jim Peters, chief technology officer for SITA, said in a statement:

“Blockchain technology offers us the potential to provide a new way of using biometrics. It could enable biometrics to be used across borders, and at all airports, without the passenger’s details being stored by the various authorities. ShoCard has worked with us to demonstrate how we could make this a reality.”

SITA, founded in the late 1940s, provides IT and communication services to the global airline industry, and is owned by a broad network of major air travel service providers, accounting for roughly 90% of all airlines.

The move comes less than a year after ShoCard raised $1.5m to develop identity solutions using the bitcoin blockchain. At the time, the firm raised capital from a group of investors including AME Cloud Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Enspire Capital and Morado Venture Partners.

Armin Ebrahimi, founder and CEO of ShoCard, argued that the proposed system for verifying airline passenger identities offers a mobile-ready method that also gives customers more control over the data they share.

“With this approach, travelers would be in more control over their personal information, providing what is strictly necessary to verify their identity, all through the convenience of their mobile phone,” he said.