Activist Post, by Zafirah Salim: Singpass — short for Singapore Personal Access — is Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) platform.
Managed by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), it allows Singapore residents to get easy access to a myriad of government and private sector services.
It is one of Singapore’s Smart Nation projects with a vision to improve the lives of citizens, create opportunities for businesses and transform the capabilities of government agencies.
Today, Singpass offers access to more than 1,400 digital services and empowers over 340 government agencies and private organisations.
Residents can use Singpass to access services across sectors – ranging from banking and insurance, to healthcare and charities – and conveniently retrieve their personal information, digitally sign documents and remotely authorise transactions on their Singpass app.
In 2020, Singpass has more than four million users and was one of the most downloaded apps in Singapore.
Birth of the National Digital Identity
A national digital identity system is the first step in building a digitally inclusive society.
More than a billion people around the world have no formal way of proving who they are. In many instances, this leads to struggles in securing basic government services, including access to public healthcare, education, voting services, and benefit programmes.
A digital identity will make these services more accessible, while improving quality-of-life for locals.
Tay Li Soon, senior product manager at GovTech, explained that it is literally called NDI because that was the vision.
We wanted to (elevate) Singpass to a true national digital identity experience where not only is their identity securely within their own options, but also connected to their data and any other services available.
When asked if there were any countries that inspired Singapore to embark on the NDI initiative, Li Soon said that it’s imperative for us to first understand “how and why other countries do it in order to bring those lessons (back) to us.”
One of the most powerful countries in the world, United States, for example, doesn’t even have a centralised ID. But maybe it works in Singapore because we are much smaller, he mused.
When Singpass started out back in 2003, it was more of a “logging in portal for government services,” described Li Soon.
They soon received feedback from the public to consolidate all government services into one platform. GovTech then stepped up to inform the government that this can be made possible with Singpass, which soon became like an authentication method.
Government services like the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) all use the same authentication methods; so for the users, they now have one less thing to remember because so many of them keep forgetting their passwords.
“If each agency mandates their own log-in, to a user, that is not very system-friendly. Since we are serving them as one government, (we need to offer a holistic platform),” said Li Soon.
Digital identity systems, as they are rolled out from country to country to a population fearful of some calamity, will the stage be set for those social identity systems to be used in a way that was never originally intended humanly speaking, but intended all along by the powers of evil? Will they, once accepted by most, be turned against those who would obey God rather than man, so that they cannot live in society without approval through the digital identity system?
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17.