Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said that while there is already an identification system for users of government services (SingPass), this is too limited. It does not work on private sector services, and does not even work in Singapore's semi-privatised hospitals, he said.
"We need a good digital identification service which is reliable, which everybody can rely on. I can sign, I can identify myself, I can access services securely; and I can transact services online. The Estonians have this: there is no reason why we should not have it," Lee said.
Lee also said that Singapore needs to improve its cashless payments infrastructure to cover food courts, hawkers and payments between citizens.
Singapore's Smart Nation initiative aims to push technological development, but "for all our pushing, we really are not going as fast as we ought to," Lee said. "We are looking at major projects that will make a big different to the way Singapore is able to operate."
Singapore launched a digital public service agency in October 2016 to improve its online government services. The new Government Technology Agency, or GovTech, aims to provide "better and more citizen-centric services".
The new department will work with the Ministry of Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore over the next year on the use of a personal data platform called MyInfo by the financial sector. MyInfo aims to simplify citizens’ interactions with banks by removing the need to provide personal documents for verification, GovTech said.
The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will work mainly with the private sector, while GovTech will drive change in the public sector. IMDA was formed by the merger of the Infocomm Development Authority and the Media Development Authority.