New Hong Kong biometric digital ID app provides access to 20 public services

They include voting registration, COVID-19 inoculations, and more

iphone in use

The city of Hong Kong released a new biometric smartphone app last week providing residents with access to 20 different public services, the South China Morning Post reports.

The smartphone biometrics-based digital identity platform is dubbed iAM Smart and will enable Hongkongers to utilize a single tool to prove their identity and authenticate themselves, and to conduct government and commercial transactions online.

The list of services is extensive and includes vote registration, tax and bill payments, and COVID-19 inoculation bookings.

iAM Smart reportedly cost HK$60 million (US$7.7 million), and once set up via smartphones’ biometric functions, allows residents to automatically fill in personal details on electronic forms as well as submit various statutory documents and procedures.

The new platform, which replaces an electronic identity scheme that did not get much traction in the area, is one of the 130 initiatives unveiled by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor back in November.

“It sounds good, and an improvement over the personal digital cert scheme, which is cumbersome and has very limited deployment,” commented Mark Webb-Johnson, CEO of cybersecurity service provider Network Box.

“But the devil is in the details,” the CEO added. “We need to know how the app will work, and how smooth and easy things like provisioning and replacement, in the event of a lost, damaged, replaced, phone will be.”

According to Victor Lam Wai-kiu, the government’s chief information officer, 180 companies would be currently undergoing tests on the app. Among them, most would be financial institutions and banks.

“Some bigger banks are interested in offering services such as opening accounts via the app together with some virtual banks,” Wai-Liu said.

More information about iAM Smart is available from the Hong Kong government’s website.

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