Source: Shutterstock

Singapore citizens can now access gov services with their face

  • Singaporeans can now scan their face to log into SingPass, as well as send an SMS one-time password to another SingPass user’s mobile number

Biometric security measures keep gaining in popularity as use cases pop up in all manner of sectors, with the latest in Singapore being the addition of facial recognition verification to access online governmental services via SingPass, the official e-government account for Singapore citizens.

Facial recognition will be added as a two-factor authentication (2FA) option to log onto the government portal, with another option being to text a one-time password (OTP) to another SingPass user’s mobile number.

The two additional 2FA options were introduced as part of the government’s efforts to promote a digitally-inclusive society, said the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) in a statement Wednesday.

The government agency is responsible for the country’s ICT and smart nation projects, as part of a national Digital Government Blueprint (DGB) to broaden the local digital economy and to develop Singapore into a smart, digital society.

The SingPass is one of those efforts, enabling the four million account holders to access 500 digital services, including from over 180 government agencies as well as commercial entities like banks. SingPass users will be able to log into their account first by entering their user ID and password, then by scanning their face on an internet-connected computer equipped with a webcam or a mobile device with a front-facing camera.

Singaporeans can now scan facial recognition to log into SingPass as well as send an SMS one-time password to another SingPass user's mobile number

Singaporeans can now scan their face to log into SingPass as well as send an SMS one-time password to another SingPass user’s mobile number. Source: Shutterstock

The island state boasts a robust 4G wireless network and about 1.5 smartphones per person, according to the country’s telecommunications regulator, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and facial recognition is quickly being woven into the fabric of day to day services in society.

The integration of facial recognition tech will help to circumvent fraud, such as utilizing artificial intelligence to detect if the face is a live face or if it is from photographs, videos, or faces wearing masks. Non-live faces will be restricted, and it will be an easy implementation for non-IT savvy users who would not have to key in too much additional, potentially confusing information.

Facial recognition is the latest form of biometric identification to become increasingly widely accepted, following on from fingerprints and voice. If banks in Southeast Asia are accepting facial biometric IDs, then it’s a good bet that industries that don’t have such stringent standards will start looking at the technology as a means of authenticating identity, too.

But in Singapore, the government led by GovTech has been championing facial authentication, including at its border checkpoints. Fingerprints and voice recognition had been the prevalent biometric scan mediums in Singapore, utilized in secured identity verification systems like those frequently found in the security and financial sectors.

Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has been rolling out iris and facial biometric scan technology at all its immigration checkpoints, ramping up its border point biometric identifiers and replacing the less-reliable fingerprint scans.