Singapore rolls out digital signatures

By on 10/11/2020 | Updated on 10/11/2020
Users of Singapore’s digital identity system mobile app will be able to sign legal documents in under two minutes. Credit: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

The Singapore government is extending its National Digital Identity (NDI) programme with a new service enabling citizens to digitally sign contracts, agreements and other legal documents.

‘Sign with SingPass’ will allow people to electronically sign a document in less than two minutes and will be progressively rolled out in the coming weeks, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) announced last week.

The SingPass service, launched in 2018, is a national digital gateway that gives 4m Singaporeans access to over 1,000 digital services offered by government agencies and private organisations. There are more than 2m users of the SingPass mobile app: they will now gain access to the new signing service, which links the signature to each person’s unique SingPass identity.

GovTech will pilot the feature with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in the coming weeks, enabling the signing of property caveats e-lodged with SLA.

New capabilities

The new offer follows the launch of the ‘SingPass Face Verification’ service, which enables users to authenticate themselves during online transactions using facial recognition technology, in July 2020. This system, which compares video images of the user with facial biometrics held in a government database, was the subject of a webinar hosted earlier this month by Global Government Forum for Iproov – one of the delivery partners.

Both services are part of the NDI Smart Nation strategic national project, which aims to build a trusted digital identity ecosystem for citizens, public agencies and private sector companies.

Mr Kok Ping Soon, Chief Executive of GovTech, said the pace of digitalisation had increased in response to COVID-19, which had in turn created the need for a secure documentation-signing service. The new service would address this need, he added, as well as reducing costs for businesses.

“Businesses can use ‘Sign with SingPass’ to unlock services for their consumers who are SingPass users with greater confidence,” he said. “Through ‘Sign with SingPass’, businesses will save cost and manpower by removing the manual processes of verifying physical paperwork.”

GovTech said cybersecurity measures would be implemented in line with industry best practices to ensure the new service is safe. Each signature will be cryptographically linked to the signer and automatically validated at the point of signing. The validated signature can then be viewed across multiple secure platforms.

‘Sign with SingPass’ is being rolled out by GovTech’s wholly owned subsidiary, Assurity Trusted Solutions Pte Ltd (ATS), in collaboration with eight digital signing application providers: DocuSign, iText, Netrust, Adobe, OneSpan, Dedoco, and Kofax.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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