OCBC Bank offers customers login option with e-government app

Singapore bank taps the government's e-services mobile app, currently used by 1.6 million residents, to provide an alternative login option for its customers to access its own mobile app.

OCBC Bank has tapped the Singapore government's e-services mobile app, SingPass, to offer an alternative login option for customers to access its own banking app. Currently used by more than 1.6 million residents, SingPass provides access to services from more than 60 government agencies and, increasingly, is used also by private enterprises as the Singapore government looks to open up access to citizen data to facilitate business transactions.

The new login feature was enabled with the integration of digital banking access with the country's National Digital Identity platform, said OCBC in a statement Thursday. Introduced earlier this month, the login features would reduce the need for customers to remember multiple user IDs, pass codes, passwords, or PINs to log into their various digital services, said the Singapore bank. 

SingPass Mobile is available for download on both Google Android and Apple iOS devices, and offers users the option to authenticate their login credentials using fingerprint or face recognition as well as a six-digit passcode. OCBC customers who have downloaded the SingPass Mobile app can click on the "SingPass Login" button when they launch the bank's mobile app or internet login page, and scan the QR code to initiate the authentication process.

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Customers who log in with their SingPass account details will have access to the bank's full range of services available on its mobile or internet banking platforms. The bank currently has 1.8 million digital customers in Singapore.

OCBC told ZDNet its product and platform specialists worked with GovTech to test the feature before it was rolled out. 

Asked if the bank had put in place additional security measures, considering a 2014 security breach had impacted some SingPass users, the spokesperson said customers must use the SingPass Mobile app to facilitate a SingPass QR-based login, instead of the traditional access code and PIN login. 

"Login via SingPass Mobile is also integrated with our authentication and verification process to enable customers to access digital banking securely," the spokesperson said. 

According to OCBC, digital transactions on its platform had climbed since the COVID-19 outbreak, with close to 100,000 new digital users joining in this year. The bank clocked a 40% spike in digital transactions initiated by users aged between 50 and 64, with an overall 48% climb in digital transactions across the board last year.

Its head of digital business for Singapore and Malaysia, Aditya Gupta, said in the statement: "Offering SingPass -- a trusted and widely used mode of digital authentication in Singapore -- as an alternate login, will give more of our customers the confidence and convenience to bank with us digitally."

Managed by the government's CIO agency GovTech, the SingPass Mobile app currently is used by more than 1.6 million residents to access a range of e-government services, including tax filing and public housing application, and, more recently, to facilitate SafeEntry entries, a digital location checkin system to aid the country's COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. 

GovTech's senior director of national digital identity, Kwok Quek Sin, said: "GovTech will continue to push out more products on the national digital identity platform to help businesses enhance digital service delivery, improve customer experience, and bring about productivity gains."

The Monetary Authority of Singapore's chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty noted that "seamless integration" between public digital infrastructure and essential services was the foundation of digital economy. He added that the government agency had been working closely with the financial industry to drive the adoption of such digital infrastructures, such as the national digital identity, to facilitate this integration. 

Mohanty said: "With the convergence of SingPass Mobile, MyInfo, and PayNow, customers can open bank accounts, access banking services and make payments online seamlessly, yet, safely."

OCBC in June 2018 had tapped MyInfo to facilitate the opening of deposit accounts, integrating the national data platform with the bank's real-time digital know-your-customer (e-KYC) process, before expanding the service in February this year to include home and car loan applications.

According to OCBC, within three months of launching the integration with MyInfo, digital card applications increased 3.5 times and online personal loan applications climbed nine-fold. 

"Three in four credit cards are acquired digitally, and three in four deposit accounts are opened digitally leveraging MyInfo," the bank said. "The integration of MyInfo in the digital product application process has enabled OCBC to offer 60-second approvals for car loans, and 60-minute approvals for home loans. One in three home loans and two in three car loans have been approved and accepted via this process within four months of its launch."

The Singapore government in recent years had opened up access to its MyInfo service, allowing private businesses to more easily tap a range of citizen data to process various transactions. It was offered through the MyInfo Developer & Partner Portal, and later integrated with the National Digital Identity (NDI) platform, to provide developers access to NDI API specs, online tutorials on the development process, and use of sandbox to test new apps. 

MyInfo was first launched in early-2016 as a way for citizens to automatically fill up online government forms with their personal details. The service then was based on voluntary enrolment, but later made mandatory for SingPass users. 

The Singapore government then had assured the integration between the two would not leave user data any less secured. In the past year, it had pledged to adopt new measures to bolster its cybersecurity posture and improve the way it safeguarded public data -- a move that followed a spate of security breaches involving government agencies.

In February 2020, the government unveiled plans to invest SG$1 billion over three years to beef up its cyber and data security systems, which it said was critical as its agencies increasingly adopted technologies such as artificial intelligence), cloud, and Internet of Things.

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