Singapore to integrate facial recognition into national digital identity system

The government of Singapore will create a centralized biometric system as part of its National Digital Identity (NDI) system, beginning with facial recognition, in order to enable its use for a variety of services, GovInsider reports.

Government Technology Agency (GovTech) Senior Director of NDI Kwok Quek Sin said during a session at the first-ever GovTech STACK Summit that the intension is to offer biometric authentication as a service. Fingerprint and voice biometrics may be added to the system eventually, and the government will offer SDKs and plug-ins to companies in financial services and other industries dependent on trust.

“We want to provide this as a service so that there’s zero enrollment,” Kwok shared. “This is for one-to-one authentication.”

Kwok also said that the goal is to create a universally-trusted data ecosystem in which identity can be provisioned to various forms, such as smart cards or wearables.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last year that the country aspires to replicate the success of Estonia’s digital ID system, which is used to access more than 1,000 government services, and officials also hope it can be used to back electronic payments.

The NDI will be issued for free to Singaporean citizens, and is expected to become available in 2020.

Singapore has launched trials or production roll-outs of biometric systems at sea borders and Changi airport, and on lampposts in public spaces within the last couple of years.

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