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Case Study on Singapore’s National Digital Identity, Data Sharing Platform

the first phase

The National Digital Identity and Government Data Sharing in Singapore: A case study of Singpass and APEX was launched. With this, people across the world can find out more about Singpass, Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) smartphone app, and the API Exchange (APEX), the government’s data-sharing platform, including how they function, how they’ve changed over time, what role luck has played in their success, and what other countries may learn from their mistakes and successes.

National digital identity and government data sharing are essential pieces of digital public infrastructure for effective and timely government services, inclusive and thriving digital economies, and resilience in the event of catastrophes like the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) endeavour and Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) worked together to make the case study.

“Singpass is vital to the nation, and our challenge is enormous because we have a goal to make it the largest platform; hence we are continuously securing it and providing the necessary level of trust. This project will ultimately benefit both the public and private sectors,” says Mr Cheow Hoe Chan, Chief Digital Government Technology Officer, Smart National and Digital Government Office & Deputy CEO, GovTech Agency, Singapore.

He added that this case study highlights the collaboration of the Singpass and APEX in which both initiatives, developed by GovTech, have contributed to improving the lives of Singaporeans and residents while also allowing government organisations and businesses to provide better services.

Mr Chan emphasised that they would like to reach out to other nations to collaborate, and if digital identities can be transferred across borders, he feels that every nation would have an even stronger point for moving forward. In addition, he was pleased that the world bank participated with them in this report, as it depicts their path, and he hopes that this is the beginning of the collaboration with other government agencies.

Moreover, all Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and people with a Foreign Identification Number (FIN) who are 15 years old or older can use Singpass for free. It lets people use their legal identity to do a wide range of transactions with government agencies and businesses, both online and in person. Singpass was first introduced in 2003 to sign into government websites with a username and password. Since then, it has changed a lot.

Today, Singpass includes several products and features for citizens and residents, including Login, Verify, Myinfo, Identiface, Digital IC, Sign, Document Wallet, Notify, and Shortcuts. Additionally, Singpass serves as a digital ID for legal companies. Owners and officials of eligible firms and other entities (such as non-profit organisations and associations) can utilise Login and Myinfo businesses to access digital government services on behalf of a legal entity. Through the Corppass website, roles and user privileges are maintained.

An important element of Singpass as a digital ID is that it acts as an extension of Singapore’s foundational ID system and builds upon it. Singpass uses the information in the foundational ID system for onboarding—that is, validating identity when initially creating the digital ID—the digital identity card (IC), and facial verification, also known as Identiface.

The availability of this data and the capability to simply validate it made the switch to NDI (application programming interfaces) reasonably simple. Singapore is a multilingual society with English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil as official languages. Eleven per cent of Singpass app users have already set their phones to a language other than English, so having Singpass in the four official languages can only be advantageous from an inclusiveness standpoint.

Countries and international organisations interested in partnering with GovTech on NDI and government data-sharing initiatives can email info@tech.gov.sg.

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