Signing up for SingPass' new security feature to get easier

PHOTO: The Straits Times

By year end, SingPass users will find it easier to apply for a new security feature to better secure their e-government transactions.

The one-time password (OTP) feature, common in e-banking, was rolled out in July as part of an enhanced SingPass system to counter rising security threats.

But confusion still dogs user sign-ups to this day.

Recognising this, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), which is behind the revamped SingPass system, told The Straits Times that it will reduce the number of steps to make it easier for the public to sign up for the OTP.

All 3.3 million SingPass users must register for the OTP feature by end-June next year. An OTP will be mandatory for transactions involving sensitive data such as those managed by the Central Provident Fund Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and Manpower Ministry.

"We are improving the process based on public feedback received during this initial phase of implementation," said IDA spokesman Ng Sook Fun.

IDA would not reveal the number of people who have registered for the OTP feature.

These changes were revealed after The Straits Times reported on the complex registration process last Wednesday. Specifically, IDA will cut out the last of three steps currently required in registration.

The sign-up for OTP involves, first, updating one's mobile number or e-mail address on the SingPass website administered by IDA.

Users are then taken to the website of local firm Assurity Trusted Solutions to indicate if they wish to receive the OTP via SMS or use a calculator-like token.

Assurity is the IDA subsidiary that supplies the OTP solution.

After that, there is a wait of up to five days to receive a PIN by snail mail.

The second step involves entering the mailed PIN on Assurity's website to activate the OTP feature selected earlier.

Many people would think that they are done with registration at this stage. But there is one more step, and that is to link the OTP feature to people's existing SingPass account on SingPass' website.

By year end, the linking will be automated, removing the need for people to do so manually.

Many SingPass users welcome the change.

Account executive Beatrice Tan, 24, said she thought she had completed registration after activating her token.

"I didn't even realise that there is a third step," said Ms Tan.

Shirley Kin, 34, a quality test specialist, said she was confused by the multiple steps involved. "It is good to streamline the process. Less is more in this case," she said.

Business owner Joseph Yeo, 43, suggested that IDA shorten the five-day wait for the PIN to arrive in the mail. "Banks normally mail out PIN numbers within one to two working days," he said.

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