By the middle of this year, transferring funds to a colleague or stallholder can be done on a mobile phone without having to enter their bank account number.
All you need is their mobile phone number, regardless of the bank or banking app they are using.
Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan disclosed this yesterday when he said the Smart Nation Programme Office - set up to spearhead key smart nation projects in Singapore - is working with the industry to launch a Central Addressing Scheme this year.
"This works like a register which maps mobile numbers to bank account numbers or to the unique entity numbers of businesses," he said during the debate on the budget of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
He was addressing a concern of Mr Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC).
Dr Balakrishnan acknowledged the frustrations of consumers, saying: "We've all got too many cards and sometimes incompatibility; it's really irritating."
The PMO oversees the Programme Office, which was set up to spearhead key smart nation projects in Singapore.
Another ongoing project is on developing secure digital identification, said Dr Balakrishnan in his reply to Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC), who had asked what projects are in the pipeline.
The minister said SingPass is "not good enough" as a secure digital identification system.
SingPass, set up for Singapore residents in 2003 to access e-government services, tends to be vulnerable when users adopt usernames and passwords that are easy to guess, such as NRIC numbers or birth dates.
"We need to quickly upgrade this," he said, noting that three key elements are missing.
These are: biometrics, such as fingerprints; encryption; and an open Application Programming Interface (API) which lets the private sector build their apps on it.
A solution could be found in a Mobile Digital ID, which the Government started on in March last year, when it called for a tender.
The Mobile Digital ID - likely to sit in a phone's SIM card - will uniquely identify every Internet user, just like the NRIC does, and can be used to authenticate all kinds of online transactions with the Government or commercial entities such as banks or telcos.
An individual's credentials are encrypted and stored in a tamper-proof zone of a mobile phone.
Hackers will not be able to make sense of the encrypted data even if the phone is lost or infected with malware.
This article was first published on March 3, 2017.
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