Singapore will use government-held identity and income data to let citizens easily apply for bank loans and accounts, it has been announced.

“Customers will be able to open bank accounts without having to submit copies of identity cards and income statements,” the Head of the Civil Service, Peter Ong, said at the Digital Government Exchange today. This is an annual summit that brings together leading GCIOs.

Banks will get this identity data by integrating their services with the government’s myInfo API. This will allow them to get customers’ consent to digitally verify their personal details, like name, identity card number and residential address. It will not, however, prove whether the applicant is credit-worthy.

“This way, there is no need for bank staff to manually verify the customer’s details, since they have already been verified by the government,” Ong added.

Four banks are piloting this arrangement – DBS, OCBC, Standard Chartered and UOB – while other banks are in queue to begin using it. Singapore Government has plans to cover at least 80% of the local banking market in the next year.

The service is available for new account applications at the four Singaporean banks from today, and is intended to be available for credit card applications and home loans in the future. It will also be made available for insurance applications.

Singapore will also allow bank transfers to be made via mobile numbers, without having to remember account numbers. “Inter-bank fund transfers can be made as easy as sending a text,” Ong said.

The government is working with the Association of Banks in Singapore to link bank customers’ mobile and identity card numbers with their bank account numbers.

This project, called the Central Addressing Scheme, will be launched at the end of next month. Seven banks will be involved in the beginning: DBS, OCBC, Standard Chartered, UOB, HSBC, Citibank and Maybank.

Photo by Government Technology Agency