Contact tracing methods other than SafeEntry can be used at property viewings, says regulatory body

PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said that generating SafeEntry QR codes was logistically intensive. ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

SINGAPORE - The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has exercised flexibility by allowing property agents to use methods other than SafeEntry QR codes for contact tracing since last Wednesday (June 17).

This comes after property agents highlighted technical difficulties that they faced in implementing SafeEntry QR codes. This was the recommendation by the CEA in its guide issued last Tuesday, ahead of the start of phase two of the country's reopening last Friday when physical viewings were permitted again.

PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said that generating SafeEntry QR codes was logistically intensive, as codes could only be applied for using the CorpPass digital identity of real estate agencies. The thousands of codes that had to be generated through a single CorpPass made the process inefficient.

Property agents also discovered that their clients' addresses are shown on SingPass Mobile if a SafeEntry QR code is activated for the transaction property, potentially infringing their clients' privacy.

After discovering this issue, ERA decided to deactivate all the SafeEntry QR codes it had generated, said its chief executive Jack Chua.

The company had generated about five thousand QR codes by last Thursday morning.

"Some surprised customers even told us that agents from other companies had called them to offer their services," he added.

Mr Chua Yong Kang, key executive officer of Ripton Realty, said that the exposure of clients' full addresses online also increased the potential of undercutting in the industry, as rival property agents could proposition owners of properties they discovered were on the market.

"I feel that SafeEntry works well for commercial users, but might not serve individuals as well, especially when full private addresses are involved," he said.

The CEA clarified last Friday that clients' names are not shown against their addresses on SingPass Mobile.

In a statement issued to estate agents and salesmen last Friday, it said: "The display of an address, on its own, without any other information, is unlikely to identify a particular individual and hence would not constitute personal data under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA)."

However, it acknowledged that the display of addresses on SingPass Mobile "could be a matter of personal concern to the client".

If clients preferred not to use SafeEntry QR codes, contact tracing via manual recording of visitor details or other means provided by agents can be used, the council said.

Mr Gafoor told The Straits Times that PropNex agents are now issued a QR code for each of their clients' properties as part of a contract-tracing system by the company's IT development team.

Mr Chua said Ripton Realty's agents are using physical forms.

ERA agents are using either the company's own QR codes, digital forms, or physical forms for contact tracing, depending on their clients' preference.

At a virtual engagement session with real estate industry stakeholders last Friday, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said GovTech is working on allowing property agents to generate SafeEntry QR codes themselves.

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