Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, set out a vision for citizens to interact with government and businesses almost entirely through their smartphones.

More government agencies are transferring payments and reimbursements via citizens’ identity card numbers, he said. Five agencies are now using peer-to-peer funds transfer service PayNow, which transfers funds to the bank accounts linked to either mobile or identity card numbers.

Over 40,000 businesses have signed up to use PayNow Corporate, which sends money to the bank account linked to the business’ unique entity number, he continued. This way, users can transfer cash “at a fraction of the cost of time and money it would have previously taken”, said Dr Balakrishnan.

Digital identity will be hosted on mobile as well. Other announcements include the launch of Singpass Mobile later this month; Singpass is the national digital identity platform that all citizens use to access government services.

The app will feature biometric authentication as an added layer of security: “either facial recognition or fingerprint”, Dr Balakrishnan said. Biometric authentication could also help “set up the stage for future end-to-end encryption, digital signing”.

The government remains committed to its vision of launching apps for citizen-centric services, such as the recent ‘Moments of Life (Families)’ app for young families – parents can register births, for instance. The future will see its function expanding to include services surrounding death and bereavement.

“When you pass away, there is also a set of agencies whom you need to contact. We will have that in,” the Minister announced, adding that the current focus is first on “birth, on childhood, on health”.

So far, 10,000 people have downloaded the Moments of Life (Families) app.

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