SingPass 2FA set-up made easy

Tech editor Irene Tham breaks down the complicated process of getting the two-factor authentication for SingPass.

From July 5, two-factor authentication (2FA) will be compulsory for all sensitive e-transactions with the Central Provident Fund Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Ministry of Manpower, and Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

The process uses a randomly generated one-time password (OTP) delivered via SMS or a token that looks like a mini-calculator. The OTP must be entered together with the usual SingPass requirements of a password and NRIC number for accessing e-government services.

Here is how to set up the SingPass 2FA:

  • If you have not registered for 2FA, or do not know how to navigate the labyrinthine steps, do not panic. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which administers SingPass, will send letters containing a PIN code to Singapore residents to help them enrol. Wait for the letters, which will come in batches.
  • Once you have received the PIN via snail mail, use it to activate the 2FA by July 4. This involves entering the PIN and NRIC number on the website of IDA's subsidiary Assurity Trusted Solutions, which supplies the 2FA system. Those with Singapore mobile phone numbers registered on SingPass' website can also activate their 2FA via SMS. Send an SMS to 78111 with the message: ACT(space)SMS(space)NRIC (space)PIN in mail. This will activate SMS as the medium for receiving the OTP. To activate the calculator-like token called OneKey, issued by Assurity, the message is: ACT(space)Token(space) NRIC(space)PIN in mail(space)OTP generated from the token. To activate both, the message is: ACT(space)Both(space) NRIC(space)PIN in mail(space)OTP generated from the token.
  • Overseas Singaporeans will not automatically receive the letters containing the PIN. They must go to SingPass' website to register for the 2FA. They can opt for only the token as the OTP cannot be sent to a foreign mobile number. Their overseas address must also be registered with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore for them to get their PIN letter and token. They must then enter the PIN and NRIC number on Assurity's website to activate the 2FA feature.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'SingPass 2FA set-up made easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe