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Singapore residents can use registered profile on government’s personal data platform to open new accounts with four banks

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) have launched a pilot with four banks to enable people to use their registered profile on Singapore government’s MyInfo service to apply for new bank accounts. (Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation initiative spoke about the pilot earlier.) They would not need to submit any supporting documentation, providing significant improvement in convenience and faster transactions. This will also reduce data entry errors. The banks will benefit from higher productivity and lower compliance costs.

Beta launched in January 2016, and available to the public since May 2016, MyInfo is a digital personal data platform where citizens need to provide their personal data only once to the government, instead of doing so repeatedly for every single government electronic transaction. MyInfo retrieves information from the relevant government agencies to form the user’s basic profile within 1 working day. For each point of information, a single government agency serves as the definitive source, for instance, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority for address or the Registry of Marriages for marital status, eliminating the need to update information in multiple portals.

By clicking the ‘Retrieve MyInfo’ button located on online forms, the participating digital service will be able to retrieve the necessary data fields from the user’s profile for automatic field population. Since the launch, the user base for MyInfo has grown to around 145,000. MyInfo will be available on most government digital services with SingPass two-factor authentication by 2018.

Four banks with large retail customer base participating in pilot

Prospective customers United Overseas Bank (UOB), Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) can start progressively start using their MyInfo profile to pre-fill the government-verified personal particulars into the necessary forms. Currently are required to submit copies of their identity, income and CPF documents for account opening applications.

MyInfo data belongs to the citizens and the data is shared with the banks, as a one-time transfer, only with the explicit consent of the individual, obtained on the MyInfo platform and the data will be used for the sole purpose of opening a bank account.

According to the press release, MyInfo may be extended later this year after the pilot, to other products and services, such as credit cards and home loans. In addition, it could also be extended to other sectors such as insurance.

Currently, MAS requires bank customers to update or confirm their information periodically. In the future, instead of filling out a physical form, MyInfo could be used to update the information with the banks, with the customer’s consent, thereby linking it to existing bank accounts.

Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive of GovTech, said, “We want to explore how citizen-centric government digital services can be extended to better help industry and transform service-delivery to citizens. We have seen good take-up of MyInfo, and hope that this public-private collaboration will provide citizens with even more benefits.”

Earlier this year, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong had highlighted the potential use of government ID for transacting with private sector at a Forum hosted by Sequoia Capital.This pilot illustrates how the Government can work with the private sector to extend the use of a platform built for Digital Government to deliver greater convenience in a Smart Nation. 

Central Addressing System for easier inter-bank fund transfers

E-payments is one of the selected focus areas, under the Singapore government’s accelerated Smart Nation programme. The government realises that it need to work with banks, payment service providers and FinTech firms for this. The Central Addressing System or CAS is another initiative which could provide a more seamless digital banking experience in Singapore and make e-payments more attractive to citizens.

CAS would link an individual’s mobile number, or National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) to their bank account, so that inter-bank fund transfers could be carried out as simply as sending a text.

CAS is an industry initiative, led by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and developed by a local payment infrastructure provider, Banking Computing Services. Seven banks are included in the planned launch of CAS at the end of June 2017. This includes the four banks in the MyInfo pilot, along with HSBC, Citibank and Maybank. These seven banks together account for around 80%, the bulk of Singapore’s retail banking market.

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