BANDAR SUNWAY – The case for a National Digital ID is now more vital than ever, especially with Sarawak ID serving as a reliable case study close to home.
According to a recent article by Digital Edge, Sarawak ID has integrated itself into 50 state government applications and has registered more than 600,000 users. Linked to MyKad, Sarawak ID provides users with a single point of authentication across platforms — eliminating the need to create multiple accounts.
More importantly, Sarawak ID was fitted with an e-KYC feature last year, allowing users to pay for cross-border payments. There are more than 10,000 verified e-KYC users on the platform thus far.
We believe that Sarawak ID could pave the way for the implementation of a National Digital ID. However, government authorities would need to pick up the pace, as Sarawak ID shows no sign of slowing down.
According to the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), Sarawak ID has plans to introduce an e-KYC passport by 2022, facilitating services relating to foreigners and tourists. Beyond that, there are also the MyKid/ birth certification system, digital signature and blockchain services, as well as an e-ticketing platform — all of which is slated to be introduced by 2024.
For the National Digital ID to be feasible and successful, a comprehensive and secured e-KYC platform must be in place. In fact, Sarawak ID witnessed a boom in user registrations after implementing these e-KYC features, rocketing from 125,000 to about 533,000 users in a single year.
Consider the alternative, where a lacklustre e-KYC implementation would have far-reaching implications that would significantly disrupt how the public sector would operate. The e-KYC service would, directly and indirectly, impact the citizens’ ability to vote, store medical records, make business transactions, renew licenses, or even provide basic welfare to the people who need it the most.
But when implemented correctly, the e-KYC service can instil great confidence and trust amongst all stakeholder involved, be it the private or public sector. Confidence and trust are essential in helping both the civil and economic sector operate smoothly like a well-oiled machine.
The benefits extend beyond just the convenience of having a single account to access most government services. Yes, having a National Digital ID does help eliminate the need to memorise the username and passwords for the multitude of registered accounts, which makes government services much more accessible to rural folks and people with disabilities.
However, it also allows experts, researchers and policymakers to understand better their citizens and how they use online services. Equipped with this information, the government is able to combat fraud and implement better features furthering Malaysian citizens’ interest.
“We want to know who we are dealing with in the virtual world, without us having to do the forensic work. Ultimately, we want to reduce fraud,” says SMA general manager Dr Zaidi Razak in an interview.
“Previously, without the Sarawak ID, people would submit all kinds of low-quality complaints. But now people are more responsible with what they say [because the complaints are linked to their IDs]. We also want to see the utilisation of the apps in our system. Is it for social or economic activities? A lot of insights can be derived from big data.”
For the e-KYC service to be secured, a system of checks and balances needs to be in place — with a clear data governance framework to dictate guidelines on how user data is stored, kept and encrypted.
Fortunately, the federal government does not need to look far to get the right experts on the job. For our existing portfolio serving both large financial and government institutions, WISE AI has had strict data governance protocols in place that goes above and beyond the industry standard.
We hope that the government can leverage the success of Sarawak ID, and look into incorporating local talents and qualified tech startups to make the National Digital ID project a reality.