TL;DR – Smart can already, don’t act smart.
Singapore is attempting to become a Smart Nation. As part of those efforts, the government wants to create a system of digital identity authentication. Currently, SingPass allows citizens to authenticate their identity in order to access a wide range of Government eServices. Moving forward, SingPass should also be allowed to be used to authenticate users for non-government eServices.
It’s a bold move. It will improve the consumer experience and instil greater confidence in eServices. For businesses, this would lower transaction costs and allow them to innovate, and create value and opportunities while leveraging a national platform.
In short, it is, or should be, something good for Singapore.
BUT. Pervasive use of high technology doesn’t necessarily make the nation smart. Not when people do stupid things. What do we mean?
Enter Exhibit A:
In case you aren’t able to see what this lady did, here is the detailed description she gave of the process she went through to change the PIN of her SingPass:
“Last week I did some stuff to my SingPass account. The government sent me 5 letters about it to inform me that I’ve done these:
1. Made an online request to reset my PIN
2. Changed my PIN at International Plaza (changed my mind about waiting for the PIN mailer)
3. Updated my mobile number at International Plaza SingPass counter
4. Updated my mobile number again within minutes (had issues trying to login)
5. Got my 2FA setup while I was at that same counter
I understand the need to send these letters, although I received SMS notifications of all these already. But could they not have summarized number 2 to 5 in one single letter?
What a waste of paper, and what a waste of resources!”
And how would the government do that?
In suggesting that the government summarises transaction 2 to 5 into a single notification letter, what is this lady actually suggesting?
She’s suggesting that after a person makes a transaction, the government doesn’t make note that they should send out a notification immediately. Instead, wait for a while. See if that person immediately updates her mobile phone number. And wait for a while to see if that person then changes her mind and updates her mobile number again. Then wait for a while to see if that person decides to set up her 2FA.
Then only after waiting all that time, aggregates all those transactions together and send one single notification letter. Is that what the person is suggesting?
The problem is… how long should the government wait? 5 minutes? Summarise all the transactions made in 5 minutes into one letter? Or wait for 10 minutes?
Or wait until that person sets up 2FA then send? What if that person takes a whole month to set up the 2FA? Wait for a whole month before sending out notification letters? And in that month, won’t that person be wondering whether the transactions have been successful?
If the government did that, I bet you there will be people who would complain and say that the government was inefficient and took such a long time to send out notification letters. So isn’t that a stupid suggestion? Isn’t it much better to just generate immediately each transaction is done and send one notification letter per transaction? Ya. That’s right. The government’s current practice is quite a sound one already.
Smart can already, don’t act smart
Sure. It’s good to come up with suggestions to improve processes. But before doing that, it’s important to put some actual thought into it before shooting our mouths off.
And, before criticising the government, this lady should have reflected on her own indecisiveness first. If she hadn’t changed her mind numerous times, the government would only need to send her three letters, not five.
In other words, if anyone was wasting resources here, it’s not the government.
(Cover image via)