Google and Samsung Launch Digital COVID Passes
August 23, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

As the global economy struggles to recover from this horrid pandemic, nations remain vigilant especially in light of new variants. For international flights, a digital COVID pass is not only necessary but crucial to protecting your citizenry from new waves. It is through air travel primarily, after all, through which the virus spread so fast across the globe.

For passengers, obtaining such passes is however another matter, government bureaucracy is redder than ever right now. No one wants a repeat of what happened last year.

It is thus very difficult to obtain such documents, wherever you may be. Many countries require that both migrants and immigrants be fully vaccinated and have some sort of papers to prove this.

Having noticed this difficulty, a few companies are trying to help with solutions of their own. Introducing the digital COVID passport.

Everything can be digitalized nowadays, from your voting card to even basic money, why not the COVID passport? This is the thinking behind solutions launched by two tech giants Samsung and Google, all of them downloadable from Google’s Play store.

Samsung

Through a partnership with healthcare non-profit The Commons Project, Samsung announced that their devices could store digital versions of their users’ COVID-19 vaccination cards. The cards will be supported through the Samsung Pay platform.

If you own a Samsung device you can easily download the CommonHealth app which is offered free on Google Play Store. One then has to follow the instructions so as to access their COVID-19 vaccine record. These include participating in pharmacies, health providers and health systems.

Once you have access to your COVID-19 credentials within the app, you can add it to your Samsung Pay Wallet. Your digital COVID pass will then be available on your Samsung Pay home page, ready to be shown to relevant authorities when asked.

Despite its genius, acceptance is another whole problem to be solved. For many places i.e., schools, hospitals, restaurants and offices it is still unclear whether authorities would accept or even know about these digital versions. In the US and Europe for instance, Apple pay still dominates the mobile payments market, accepting Samsung Pay verification for COVID-19 vaccination would prove to be difficult.

Google

Google has been in this ‘business’ for a while now having pioneered the very first digital COVID-19 vaccination card in June this year. Today more countries have accepted this new ‘technology and are accepting people into their countries based on the “COVID Card” on their Android Phones.

Google Play, which saves flight boarding passes, event tickets and transit fares already had a tried and tested infrastructure that made it easy to deploy the ‘COVID Card System.’

Once your government or relevant Third-Party Authority has an established app where they can enter the necessary information to be pulled up for a COVID-19 record, the information will be saved on the phone ready to be viewed whether online or offline.

Security is provided in the form of a password, PIN or the phone’s biometric lock to add the COVID-Card and all subsequent attempts to access it whether offline or online. The card can be deleted at any time.

As nations all over the world attempt to reboot their economies, the digital COVID pass can be instrumental in making international travel easier and faster.

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