Singapore residents will soon be able to use digital identity cards instead of physical ones when applying for and accessing government services in-person. The digital version of the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) is stored in the SingPass mobile app, and will negate the need for a physical identity card at select government offices as of November 1.
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) are backing the new initiative, and will launch a publicity campaign in the coming months to encourage more people to take advantage of the SingPass utility. Residents will be able to use their identity cards at public health clinics, at public libraries, and when registering for housing and entering government facilities.
However, they will still need a physical ID to register for a marriage license, check into a hotel, or when they are involved in a criminal investigation. Singaporean law currently requires a physical ID in those situations, though GovTech and SNDGO have suggested that the law will eventually be amended to allow for the use of digital IDs in those cases. A physical ID card is also needed for school exams, if only because students are not allowed to take phones into the examination room.
The government is hoping that the digital IDs will speed up the check-in process at government offices, since administrators will no longer need to photocopy ID cards for their records. Singapore is also hoping to extend the service to the private sector to allow people to use their digital NRIC to sign up for bank accounts and telecommunications services. Those who use the digital card would no longer need to take a photo of their ID, and would instead be able to share their personal information with a QR code scan.
Like the physical NRIC, the digital version comes with a barcode to facilitate information sharing, and supplements it with an animated lion crest to prevent spoofing. The SingPass app itself can be secured with a PIN or with fingerprint or face biometrics. Users will be able to use the app to store digital versions of driver’s licenses and other certifications in addition to their NRIC, though residents still need to report and replace any physical cards that get lost or stolen.
As it stands, 97 percent of the Singaporean public (over the age of 15) has signed up for a SingPass account. In the next few months, the government will update the app to support Chinese, Malay, and Tamil languages. Residents can already use SingPass when accessing government services online.
Source: The Straits Times