All Government Agencies Will Accept Digital IC (SingPass) to Access Public Services from 1 Nov 2021

It’s the 21st century, and while we’re able to live without many things, our phones are not one of those things.

Other than needing to remain connected with our loved ones and communicating for work purposes while on the go, practically most of our life functions run on these tiny devices.

They’ve got so powerful that you can even access payment services and your credit cards directly, without the need to even carry around a wallet and weigh your pockets down.

And now, it seems like the need for wallets are almost on the road to extinction, for you can even access something else from your phone – your NRIC.

Digital IC Available For Use In Applying For Public Services

Soon, you’ll no longer have to fret when you make it all the way to the doctors’ and suddenly realise you don’t have your little pink card on you.

Government agencies are set to accept digital ICs that can be accessed from the Singpass app as valid forms of identification from the 1st of November, for the use and application of public services in person.

Such services include registration at polyclinics for medical services, booking medical appointments, registering at government buildings, collecting passports, and borrowing library books.

You can even book HDB flats and pick up your keys without needing to bring your physical NRIC down – how great is that?

Still, not all services will allow for complete digitalisation of identification – such as marriage registration, hotel check-ins, and investigations under the Criminal Procedure Code and National Registration Act.

For now, they will still require physical identity documents to be presented by law, but the  Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency (GovTech) are working on amending laws to formalise the change to digital ICs for these.

Additionally, students will still have to bring their physical NRICs into school examinations where the use of electronic devices are prohibited, while NS men have to bring theirs along for enlistment as they need to be surrendered.

Several private sector businesses are also in talks with the government for the use of digital ICs in signing up for telco plans or opening bank accounts, SNDGO’s Mr Tan Chee Hau revealed.

Security Will Be Ensured

Of course, there will be security concerns that follow the digitalisation of such an important identification document, one that can easily be accessed.

Organisations will no longer need to photograph or photocopy one’s NRIC for data collection purposes – instead, the Verify feature on the Singpass app allows for users to send their personal details to them via QR codes.

They may also scan the barcode on the digital IC, similar to that of a physical NRIC.

Only the last four digits of one’s NRIC number will be displayed on the digital version, which can only be revealed after entering a passcode, face recognition, or doing a fingerprint scan.

The lion head crest symbol at the side of the IC will also be animated – not simply for novel purposes, but to prevent the tampering or spoofing of the document after screenshotting it.

Well, hold on to your physical NRICs still before throwing them into an obscure corner of your room – for the move doesn’t mean that the digital version will replace them completely.

If one loses their NRIC, they’re still required to report its loss and apply for a replacement at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Mr Tan noted that the legal standing of the NRIC remains a reason why doing away with the physical NRIC has to be a decision that is carefully considered.

“The fact that you can feel at ease going out and about without your wallet and with just a phone because it supports e-payments and has the Singpass digital IC – that’s a big step,” he added.

Digital Adoption Still Picking Up

Some places in Singapore have already allowed the use of the digital IC for registration, including SingHealth’s polyclinics.

Yet, only about 30 people every week have been using it for registration across all of SingHealth’s outlets, the organisation revealed.

Adoption rates of digital ICs will be expected to grow with this formal officiation – with about 97% of Singaporeans and permanent residents above the age of 15 having Singpass accounts.

More features to be added to the app in the near future include being able to change the in-app language to Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

Other identification documents that may also be digitalised on the Singpass app soon include driving licenses, vocational licences and professional certifications.

Your whole life might really soon be on one app, huh?

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