Hear from lead product manager of Singapore’s whole-of-government API management solution at GovInsider’s upcoming panel

By Rachel Teng

Zen Chua, lead product manager for APEX will share his insights on 10 May 2023, at GovInsider’s session, ‘Inside the playbook for building effective government products’.

Image: Government Technology Agency Singapore.

Tell us more about yourself and the product that you're working on (APEX)!


I am from the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), where I’m the Lead Product Manager for an API platform product called APEX, which stands for API Exchange. 


APEX is a whole-of-government API management solution that helps our government agencies to simplify the management, security, and adoption of their API products. Our mission is to help the Singapore government change and innovate faster by connecting apps, services, and data. 


In my role, I manage a team of product managers and oversee the development and execution of our product strategy. I collaborate closely with cross-functional teams to ensure the successful delivery of our products. I also work closely with our agencies to help them deliver their value through the use of APIs.


Who or what inspires you?


The potential behind API inspires me – some may consider API as a backend technical implementation, but APIs can actually deliver plenty of business value. Take the following examples:


• Twilioʼs entire business is built on APIs for programmable communication, enabling the company to generate double-digit revenue growth year-on-year.

• By gathering and piecing together the best-in-class API products and focusing on its points of differentiation, Uber was able to scale and grow its total annual userbase more than tenfold over the last eight years, disrupting the taxi industry.

• At some point, Expedia generated 90 per cent of its revenue through its APIs; and Salesforce.com, 50 per cent.


Closer to home, MyInfo APIs have helped businesses reduce transaction time for digital transactions by 80 per cent. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) leveraged APIs to partner with accounting software companies, providing a seamless tax filing experience for businesses of different sizes.


APIs can unlock much value and potential, and I am heartened that some of the government agencies like IRAS, Central Provident Fund (CPF), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Land Transport Authority (LTA), and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) are rolling out their external APIs to co-create with the private sector.


If you could describe APEX using a metaphor or analogy, what would it be, and why?


APEX’s current version is like a food court where we provide kitchens, stalls, and tools for our tenants to offer their incredible food to consumers. For consumers, it’s a place where they can discover and taste the different dishes within the same platform.


We are currently piloting the APEX Marketplace, which is similar to the concept of a food delivery platform (think Grabfood / Deliveroo / Door Dash) where we federate API products (or food) offered by different API management solutions (in the same analogy, this would refer to individual merchants such as McDonald’s or KFC).


What are some specific examples of successful projects that have been implemented using APEX?


Thanks to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) sharing their APIs through APEX, several innovative solutions have been developed.


For example, both GovTech’s LifeSG eBirthCert and eDeathCert (MyLegacy) leverage ICA’s APIs to improve the quality of lives of our citizens.


GovTech’s LifeSG eBirthCert removes the need for parents to collect physical birth certificates at ICA, allowing them to spend quality time with their new-borns instead. eBirthCert also eliminates the overheads for hospitals to operate birth certificate counters, and for ICA to produce birth certificates. With GovTech’s eDeathCert (MyLegacy), next-of-kin no longer need to register the deaths of their loved ones physically at hospitals, Neighbourhood Police Centres / Posts or at ICA. Bereaved family members can then focus on matters besides post-death administrative tasks.


What is one piece of advice you would give to other product developers?


Talk to your customers – understanding their needs, pain points, and contexts will provide plenty of insights to make product decisions and trade-offs. Focusing on designing your products to solve your customers’ problems will increase the chances of creating a successful product that delivers value for your customers and ultimately your stakeholders.


Anything else you would like to add?


Do visit the Singapore Government Developer Portal – it is a resource hub for government digital products and services. We offer guidelines, products and community resources specially tailored to facilitate product teams in their digital transformation projects.


Register here to hear directly Zen and other developers at GovInsider’s upcoming panel, “Inside the playbook to building effective government products”, held in conjunction with MongoDB!