Smart Nation: Building digital platforms to benefit citizens, businesses and innovation

Dr Balakrishnan outlines strategy ahead for Singapore in the areas of e-payments, digital identity authentication and open data.

02 Mar 2017

A Smart Nation with new digital platforms and capabilities can benefit citizens, reduce business costs and enable innovation, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative at the Committee of Supply 2017 Debate.

He cited three key areas in which leveraging technology can improve the lives of Singaporeans and reduce business costs: E-payments, digital identity, and open data.

Seamless E-Payments

The Government will continue to make e-payments easier for Singaporeans by ensuring interoperability across different payment options.

A Central Addressing Scheme will be set up to allow Singaporeans to send funds to their friends by using their phone numbers, even if they are with different banks. The Central Addressing Scheme works like a register of mobile phone numbers that are linked to a bank account or a unique entity number (UEN) of a business.

The Government is taking a similar approach with payment terminals at retail outlets and public transport.

Retail payments can now be made at a single Unified Point of Sale (UPOS) terminal which is able to make use of different payment technologies, including EMV chips and NFC chips.

Singapore is also piloting account-based ticketing on our public transport system. Commuters on the pilot will have the option of using their contactless Mastercard, instead of just their EZ Link card, on the public transport network. If successful, other payment providers will be brought on board.

Digital Identity Authentication

Currently, SingPass allows citizens to authenticate their identity in order to access a wide range of Government eServices. Moving forward, SingPass should also be allowed to be used to authenticate users for non-government eServices.

In doing so, the Government hopes to improve the consumer experience and instil greater confidence in eServices. For businesses, this would lower transaction costs and allow them to innovate, and create value and opportunities while leveraging a national platform.

Open Data

The Government will also continue to make its data available to enable businesses and citizens to facilitate innovation and improve the lives of their fellow Singaporeans.

Dr Balakrishnan cited the development of the BusUncle app as a good example of an innovative use of government data by citizens and businesses, and welcomed more development on this front.

He also urged businesses and Government agencies to uncover new possibilities and be open to change that may disrupt the way they currently do things.

New Skills for a Digital Economy

Dr Balakrishnan also noted that specialists in data analysis, cybersecurity, software development, user experience design and network engineering will be needed to drive Singapore’s Smart Nation push. Cross-disciplinary talent would also be needed in order to apply these new skills in different areas like Finance and Healthcare. The Government will also continue to build up such talent with the relevant digital skills.