Expansion in Digital Wallet Capabilities: Digital IDs, QR Scanning, and More

Google Wallet, once just a payment platform, has evolved into a comprehensive tool, encompassing everything from loyalty cards to digital car keys. Notably:

  • Google Wallet now supports digital IDs for driver’s licenses in select states.
  • A recent update hints at the wallet’s increasing versatility, integrating Android’s default QR code scanner.
  • This integration allows users to easily add passes, like boarding passes or health cards, directly to the app.

QR Code Scanning Simplified

One significant development is the ability to scan pass photos, screenshots, and smart health cards—essentially QR-coded certificates displaying vaccine details. The steps are:

  • Scan a physical pass or use the “Scan from photo” option.
  • Once a valid QR code is identified, an “Add to Wallet” prompt appears.
  • Clicking “Add” leads users straight to the Google Wallet app with preloaded pass details.

This streamlined process cuts down on time, as there’s no need to open the app separately. Adding the QR code scanner to one’s Quick Settings on Android is simple:

  • Swipe down twice from the top screen.
  • Tap the pencil-shaped edit button.
  • Find and drag the QR scanner to the active Quick Settings tiles.

For advanced users with rooted devices, access to this feature ahead of its official launch is possible using specific modifications available on Github.

Increased Support for Digital IDs

There’s growing support for flashing your smartphone in lieu of a physical driver’s license, especially at airports.

States Adopting Digital IDs

The recent additions are:

  • Colorado, Georgia, and Arizona have joined Maryland in supporting digital IDs in Google Wallet.
  • Adding a digital ID to Google Wallet involves a simple process: open the app, select ID card, and follow the respective state’s instructions.

However, while digital IDs are accepted at specific TSA checkpoints and some stores, it’s advised to still carry the physical ID. This is crucial at traffic stops in particular states and establishments that may not recognize the digital format yet.

Future Trends and Adoption

  • Almost 30 states are in active discussions or planning to support digital IDs.
  • Samsung Wallet is joining the trend, with Arizona and Iowa being inaugural states for its rollout.
  • Stores selling age-restricted products and some law enforcement agencies are beginning to use digital ID scanners. For instance, Colorado state troopers using digital IDs experienced a 10% reduction in processing time during traffic stops, as per the Denver Gazette.

How to Add Digital IDs to Google Wallet

Google Wallet’s commitment to digital transformation is evident:

  • Announced in May 2022, Google Wallet’s digital ID feature was first limited to Maryland.
  • The expansion now includes Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia. Residents can simply add their digital IDs by taking photos of both license sides and a brief face video. Once approved, these can be used at TSA checkpoints.
  • Though more applications of the digital ID are anticipated, Google hasn’t released a definitive timeline.

Device Compatibility

Most top Android phones running Android 8 or later support this digital ID feature, with prerequisites:

  • An active screen lock
  • Enabled Bluetooth and Nearby Devices

However, foldable phones currently lack this support. Apple, on the other hand, seemed to prioritize iPhone users initially, rolling out digital ID support in select states ahead of Google.

Interestingly, states like Connecticut, Hawaii, and Ohio, among others, announced imminent digital ID support in Apple’s releases, but we’re still waiting. Meanwhile, certain states, including California and Delaware, are developing their own digital ID apps, potentially bypassing Google and Apple Wallet altogether.


The evolution of digital wallets like Google Wallet points to a future where physical cards might become obsolete. As tech giants race to expand their digital ID capabilities and more states hop on board, the convenience of a digital ID is becoming a reality for many. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm.

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