Apple will allow iPhones to act as My Number cards starting in spring

Holders of Japan's “My Number” national identity cards will be able to use iPhones in place of physical cards starting next spring, the government said on Thursday, as authorities look to encourage adoption of the system, which was introduced to simplify administrative procedures. .

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshitsune Hayashi told the media that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the change during a conference call on Thursday.

This development follows the feature being added to Android smartphones in May 2023.

People with My Number can use their smartphones instead of cards when interacting with public service providers such as municipalities or tax offices.

This photo taken on May 30, 2024 shows an Apple iPhone and a sample Japanese “My Number” national identity card. (Kyodo News)

Government sources said Kishida asked Cook at a meeting in December 2022 to allow the iPhone to perform the functions of the My Number card.

The My Number ID card system, launched in 2016, issues each Japanese resident a 12-digit number that is used to centralize a range of personal data, such as tax and social security information.

The government says the cards make administrative applications easier for holders, who can, for example, obtain official documents at convenience stores or apply for childcare benefits online.

The government also plans to scrap the current health insurance certificates in December and integrate them into My Number cards, meaning everyone in Japan will need to get the cards as the country's health insurance system covers all residents.

It also plans to include driving licenses in the system by March 2025.

According to the government, nearly 74% of Japan's population had applied for a My Number card as of the end of April.

Authorities have faced resistance in encouraging the public to apply for personal number cards after revelations of mishandling of personal data, such as health insurance details being incorrectly registered and given to people other than the owners.

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