Malaysian startup BorderPass is set to launch a pilot test at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which allows travellers to pre-clear the immigration checkpoint before arriving at the destination.
The closed trial will take place once BorderPass finishes installation of automatic clearance gates at KLIA Terminals 1 and 2 by the end of this year. Public trials are then planned to follow.
Explaining how it works, BorderPass CEO Faisal Ariff said: “We replace paper immigration forms with a biometrically verified online profile, which is sent to the destination government the moment a flight is booked.
“Pre-cleared passengers use a BorderPass automated gate on arrival, skipping the manual immigration queue and forms. It is essentially a precursor to the cloud passport. It is where we feel the world is headed to in the next 10 to 20 years.”
BorderPass is being targeted at intra-ASEAN travellers for now, according to Faisal, who is speaking with various stakeholders within the 10 nation bloc to implement the pioneering solution.
“There are four key stakeholders who we have worked hard to convince: governments, airlines, airports and passengers,” he said.
“Each have a different perspective and we tailor our message to them accordingly. For governments the top three priorities are security, security and security. For airlines, it may be boosting passenger throughput and managing capacity.”
BorderPass had been in talks with the Malaysian Immigration Department since early 2014, as well as with the ASEAN Secretariats in Jakarta and three other ASEAN countries, among many others, to bring the project to its current state. The trail at KLIA is a first for South-east Asia.
Australia and New Zealand, in an initiative led by the two nation’s governments, were the world’s first to test run cloud passport technology back in October 2015.
While going paperless is an exciting prospect for end-consumers, Faisal highlights the positive effects it has for South-east Asian immigration authorities as well.
He said: “The key difference we are introducing is the ability to pre-screen passengers before they arrive, using a secure biometrically-verified profile which carries over from journey to journey across the region.
“This enables the destination government to screen visa-free visitors days, weeks or months ahead of time, as opposed to traditional last-minute manual screening. For passengers this translates to a simple, seamless, and secure journey.”
BorderPass is also currently working closely with travel technology stalwarts Amadeus via its startup programme Amadeus Next to look at integrating its systems with airlines and airports that are being powered by Amadeus solutions.
“We had the unique opportunity to head to Amadeus’ customer event, Online Connect, where we were able to pitch our idea and network with Asia-Pacific’s leading OTAs. It was great exposure to the industry and for us it validated our solution with the online community,” said Faisal.
“We were also pretty excited to be awarded Amadeus Next Startup of the Year at the event, helping us to establish international credibility, and probably it helped us in Malaysia also.”