UOB pilots use of Singpass digital signature to authorise transactions, application forms

UOB aims to expand the use of the feature in more products and services for customers in Singapore after the pilot.
UOB aims to expand the use of the feature in more products and services for customers in Singapore after the pilot.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Local bank UOB is piloting the use of national digital identity system Singpass' digital signature feature to confirm transactions or product applications.

This year-long trial will be extended to some retail and corporate clients, the bank announced on Thursday (June 10).

This allows Singapore citizens and residents to digitally sign electronic documents, such as for individual wealth planning transactions and applications for services, using their Singpass app.

During the digital signing process, only a random encrypted code will be shared with the bank's document management platform to confirm that the customer has signed the document, thus ensuring the confidentiality of personal data, UOB said.

The Sign with SingPass capability was rolled out last November by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and first piloted by government agency Singapore Land Authority.

UOB said that it aims to expand the use of this feature in more of its products and services for both retail and wholesale customers in Singapore after the pilot.

It also plans to expand its electronic signature capability to the region from next year, using other authentication systems such as two-factor authentication for countries that do not have a Singpass equivalent.

Electronic signatures will cut the use of more than two million multi-page hard copy documents each year, which will save more than 700 trees per year, the bank said.

UOB head of group technology and operations Susan Hwee said: "The change in customer expectations and experience during Covid-19 has made it an imperative that we explore and extend our digital capabilities across more of our financial services and products."

More than 65 per cent of the bank's customers now expect banking services to be digital by default, according to a study concluded in August last year.

Adopting the Singpass digital signature feature will not only mean greater convenience for customers but also remove one of the major roadblocks - the need for physical signatures - in fully digitalising the documentation process, Ms Hwee said.

GovTech senior director for national digital identity Kwok Quek Sin said: "UOB's integration of Sign with Singpass is a significant step towards offering a more secure and efficient process for UOB customers.

"We will continue to work with industry partners to build more beneficial services and establish new digitally enabled ways of doing business."

UOB is not the only bank which uses digital signing. 

DBS introduced secured electronic signatures through DBS DigiSign for its institutional customers in August last year. 

It also uses its digital banking services and Singpass for authentication and validation for almost all the bank’s products and services on the retail front, said Mr Jimmy Ng, group chief information officer and head of group technology and operations.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered said it has developed its own electronic signature solution, Standard Chartered eSign. 

The feature replaces handwritten signatures to grant approval on electronic documents or forms across various product sign-ups and onboarding processes, including for investments, insurance and mortgage.

Last year, the bank also launched a digital token-based authentication for all retail servicing transactions to replace manual verification, such as a client’s physical signature, where possible.

At OCBC Bank, retail and corporate banking customers have been able to use digital signatures for transactions such as large corporate account opening applications and investment product application forms since last year.

Mr Lim Khiang Tong, the bank’s head of group operations and technology, said the lender successfully completed a proof-of-concept for a cross-border transaction with Sign with Singpass last year, adding: “This service will be fully implemented later this year.”

The Singpass identification system powers more than 1,400 services offered by about 140 public and 200 private sector organisations.

The Singpass app, which has more than 2.5 million users as at March, includes features such as a digital equivalent of the NRIC.