Sitra is currently examining the possibility of piloting the use of payment terminals for checking people’s coronavirus information. EU leaders reached at the European Union summit recently on the development of a European – possibly digital – vaccine certificate. It is hoped that the certificate might make it easier to ease travel restrictions and the opening up of societies as the rollout of vaccines continues. However, it is still unclear how a vaccination passport would be implemented in practice, or what technology would be used for it.
“As vaccination coverage increases, travelling will become possible and societies will start to open up,” says Antti Kivelä, Director of Capacity for Renewal at Sitra. “Then we will need information: are you vaccinated, do you carry the virus, are you immune because you have had the virus? The information is needed at international borders, on transport, at public events and by many services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
A global pandemic demands global solutions that can be implemented quickly
Kivelä says Sitra is currently assessing the use of the payment and credit card system for sharing a person’s coronavirus status globally. The system would work like this: customers show their bank or credit card to a service provider’s payment terminal, as they would when making a small purchase. The payment terminal indicates if the coronavirus status is in order. The terminal does not reveal patient information in any greater detail. The system works exclusively on behalf of the individual and under the instructions and control of the person asking for their own vaccine information. Discussions on testing the model have been held with an international payment processing company, among others.
“We have already examined the technical and legal functionality of the solution, and discussions are now under way about possible piloting both in Finland and globally,” says Kivelä. “Exceptional conditions require exceptional solutions, the courage to cross sectoral boundaries and an ability to engage in new kinds of co-operation for the public good. Owing to the nature of the pandemic, the solutions also need to be global. The payment card system already works globally and the entire infrastructure, and the cards, are ready.”
In the past year Sitra has also been launching and funding pilot projects connected with epidemic management in Vaasa and in the South Karelia Social and Health Care District (Eksote). A “chain” mobile application developed for coronavirus tracing was tested in Vaasa and, in South Karelia, robocalls were one of the methods tested as part of epidemic management.