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SingPass app could soon be used to verify age before buying alcohol from vending machines

SINGAPORE — While the SingPass app is usually associated with paying taxes or applying for public housing, residents may soon be able to use it to purchase alcohol from vending machines.

The payment terminal on the vending machine will prompt users to scan a QR code using the SingPass app to verify their age before alcoholic drinks can be dispensed.

The payment terminal on the vending machine will prompt users to scan a QR code using the SingPass app to verify their age before alcoholic drinks can be dispensed.

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  • The user would be able to scan a QR code on vending machines with their SingPass app
  • This would verify their age and the machine would then let them choose a drink
  • SingPass has seen more than a doubling of users over past year 
  • SingPass could in future become an international passport, said Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan 

 

SINGAPORE — While the SingPass app is usually associated with paying taxes or applying for public housing, residents may soon be able to use it to purchase alcohol from vending machines. 

Ascan, a fintech company that develops payment terminals such as those found on vending machines, is partnering with SingPass to make this happen by the third quarter of 2021. 

To make a purchase, users will be prompted to scan a QR code that would appear on the payment terminal on the vending machine with their SingPass app, to verify their age.

Once they do so, the application will confirm their age, then allow them to choose an alcoholic drink. Users under the legal drinking age of 18 will not be allowed to make these purchases. 

Ascan’s chief technical officer Wong Soong Teck demonstrated this feature on Thursday (March 4), during a SingPass event to unveil a new logo for the Government-built app.

“SingPass actually provides a more accurate means of verification than just spotting an IC (identification card) without properly looking at a buyer’s face,” said Mr Wong, who said that the firm is also in talks with an alcohol retailer who is interested in the service. 

He added that in the event a minor takes a parent’s phone, he or she would not be able to access the SingPass app as a password, fingerprint, or Face ID would be needed to unlock the app. 

In future, the feature can be rolled out to supermarkets and convenient stores that sell age restricted products such as cigarettes and alcohol, said Mr Wong, though such plans have not yet been made. 

Ascan is among 340 government agencies and private organisations that are partnering with SingPass to access its digital services, said the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) in a statement. 

Besides age verification, SingPass also has a sign function, which means users do not need to be present to sign documents, and facial verification, which was launched in December last year. 

GovTech added that the number of SingPass app users has more than doubled, from one million users in the first half of 2020, to the present 2.5 million users, with 90 per cent using the app at least once a month.

Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan, who was at the event, said that since SingPass was created in 2003, it has had to evolve with technology to ensure that users’ digital identity remained secure. 

“If we don't get identity right, we can’t secure transactions, you can’t even make e-commerce safer,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“You wouldn’t be able to create convenience for people to transact from the private sector (to) the Government sector, in a seamless way.” 

Thus, he added that people are not only using SingPass to authenticate information and perform digital signatures for transactions with the Government, but with the private sector as well. 

“You don’t have to keep filling up the same data fields which they need over and over again,” he added. 

SINGPASS AS AN INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT?

Dr Balakrishnan had announced in Parliament earlier this week that Singaporeans will be able to use the SingPass app to facilitate cross-border verification of health documents, such as pre-departure Covid-19 test results, under a digital standard known as Healthcerts.

He added on Thursday that in future, even passport verification can also be achieved through SingPass. 

While losing a passport overseas required personal attendance at an embassy, this could soon change with the information within SingPass, which can make identification more seamless.  

“It is not a stretch to imagine that that (SingPass) can actually evolve into an international digital identity, or even an international passport,” he said. 

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SingPass Technology app age verification

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