Re-launching one of its most iconic products, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) unveiled yesterday an upgraded version of the postal ID card—a primary form of identification used by as many as four million Filipinos.
A new wallet-sized PVC plastic card infused with layers of digital security is set to replace the traditional postal ID assembled from cardboard paper and plastic lamination.
The postal ID remains a popular government-issued ID. It can be obtained by almost anyone who needs a valid proof of identity and address. ID owners are not required to have a particular skill, qualification or employment, unlike the hurdles for getting driver’s licenses, PRC licenses to practice a profession, SSS or GSIS cards.
According to Postmaster General Josefina de la Cruz, the lack of a valid ID remains a problem especially among the out of work, the informal sector, full-time homemakers, youths and minors. “Many ordinary Filipinos still don’t have a credible form of identity to show in banks or hospitals or boats—therefore giving them a harder time to get transactions done,” she said.
“The postal ID has a track record of giving disenfranchised citizens better access to public services and opportunities,” De La Cruz remarked. “As the card for everyone, the postal ID helps make our society more socially inclusive.”
Even among the employed, it makes sense to own a postal ID, she added. “We are all required to present more than one valid ID for important transactions—when we open a bank account, encash a check, buy property or apply for a passport.”
De la Cruz said the new postal ID will undeniably be more durable and presentable. In addition, she said the security measures—from one-of-a-kind fingerprint patterns to a quick response (QR) code and magnetic stripe—will improve card integrity and discourage counterfeiting. There has been a growing perception that it is easy to duplicate or fake the postal ID, leading to some entities no longer honoring or recognizing it.
PHLPost will pilot the issuance of new postal IDs starting mid-November this year in selected post offices. The new IDs will become accessible nationwide by early-2015. The upgrade is also in line with a directive to unify all ID systems of government-owned and controlled corporations under the biometric technology standard.
Although a final price was not yet announced for the new postal ID, Postmaster General De La Cruz assured the public that there would be no significant price increase despite the many ID improvements being introduced. The current postal ID costs P400 when obtained from the Manila Central Post Office in Liwasang Bonifacio. The price has been known to go higher outside Metro Manila, but among the changes PHLPost will institute are setting one uniform ID price and one ID quality anywhere in the country.
De la Cruz explained that the new ID is a flexible “smart card” capable of conducting secure and convenient transactions. PHLPost, she said, is preparing the ID for the functionalities of an ATM, a debit card for cashless postal money transfers and remittance, as well as loyalty rewards. She said the new ID would also ride the boom in Internet-based businesses through e-commerce and online banking capabilities.
“We are not just after the revenues. PHLPost also earns from the current postal ID. But we are moving forward with a new and improved ID,” De la Cruz asserted, “because our board wants to better serve the public.”
The new postal IDs will be produced through an existing joint venture of PHLPost and Filipino IT company Filmetrics Corporation. The same joint venture currently customizes biometric identification and registration systems for the Philippines’ largest social insurance fund, the Social Security System.