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Malaysia’s digital ID project to be finalised by 2019

This news comes as the Government prepares to introduce biometric identities for the 32 million citizens in the country. The Malaysian government intends to finalize details of the project by the end of 2019.

A major information technology company has entered the competition to lead Malaysia’s digital identification project.

The firm’s Senior Executive Vice President said the Japanese technology company has submitted a proposal to Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry, which is spearheading the project on behalf of the federal government.

It was noted that the firm has submitted a proposal to the ministry. While the company remains hopeful the details are currently being ironed out; nothing is final yet.

Malaysia has one of the highest Internet and mobile phone penetration rates in Southeast Asia, and this has spurred rapid growth in the country’s e-commerce sector and other internet-related industries.

The government is hoping to encourage further growth with a digital ID system that can be used not just in e-commerce, but also in new financial services such as e-payments. The digital ID system is the key to the government’s initiative to make Malaysia a technology-led nation.

Meanwhile, the firm is a leading developer of biometrics, registering a net profit of $362.46 million for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2019.

The firm intends to use its experience implementing digital biometric IDs in India as a blueprint for Malaysia. It was noted that after the successful implementation of biometric identification in India, the firm would like to repeat (the success) in Malaysia if given the opportunity.

However, it is unclear how much Malaysia plans to invest in the program.

The infotech firm’s interest in the project was kindled during the Malaysian Prime Minister recent roundtable with Japanese investors in Tokyo.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Chairman stated that the ministerial cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given the regulator a green light to conduct a comprehensive study on the project.

The study is still ongoing and could last until next year. Once complete, the cabinet will decide on the implementation of the Digital ID project.

The study could well extend until next year. Projects of this nature are confidential, and involve multiple parties, so MCMC will not comment much.

The Japanese firm specializes in six areas of original biometric authentication technologies – facial, iris, fingerprint/palm print and voice recognition, and acoustic authentication.

According to the firm’s website, the tech company has implemented over 700 systems with its fingerprint and facial recognition technologies in more than 70 countries – serving mostly the police, government and corporate sectors.

Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Minister announced the Digital ID project last year. The Digital ID is not meant to replace the current form of identity verification, which is a compulsory identity card for Malaysian citizens aged 12 and over, nor will it be mandatory for everyone.

According to an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) noted that Malaysia moving in the right direction with regards to the Digital ID project.

The agency’s Head of Division, Digital Services and Data Platform confirmed this saying that 2019 would be the year of the Digital ID field, where it was being formulated to provide a verifiable platform of trust in cyberspace.

The Head explained that the Digital ID enables the government to ensure and prove people’s identity especially when people do business or are dealing with it via online method. With the ID, people can ensure that they are dealing with the right person.

The Head noted that as an extra measure towards realising the Malaysian Digital ID, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry had brought forward the proposal to the Cabinet for this Digital ID to be implemented.

The digital ID is not meant to replace the current form of identity verification which is a compulsory identity card for Malaysian citizens aged 12 and above, nor would it be mandatory for everyone.

While MDEC has vast experience in the area, it would be bringing in other stakeholders. To ensure the legality of the creation of this national digital ID, the ministry would study various pieces of existing legislation, including the Perso­nal Data Protection Act 2010.

According to the minister, possessing the national digital ID would enable Malaysians to enjoy numerous benefits. Moreover, a national digital ID will be an integral and crucial platform for the digital government initiative.

It was noted that the government or its agencies can deliver targeted subsidies efficiently via an e-Wallet account that has been registered using the national digital ID.


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