As Singapore surges towards a 97 per cent digital ID adoption rate, Australia stands at its own digital tipping point.
While Singapore thrives under centralised governance, experts are calling for a cohesive digital ID ecosystem for Australia’s federated structure.
At stake is an opportunity to assume global leadership in digital ID through a consumer-led approach.
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is in many ways the ‘superhero of regulators’, because our future success depends on protecting the individual; it’s their data,” former NSW customer service and digital government minister Victor Dominello said.
The former minister and now executive director of the Tech Council of Australia calls it an “inspired choice,” arguing it puts the centre of gravity back onto the individual rather than the government.
In the latest episode of the Identity Matters: Digital Identity and the Evolution of the Internet vodcast series, hosted by InnovationAus.com in partnership with Ping Identity, Ping’s vice president for APAC & Japan, Ashley Diffey, echoed Mr Dominello’s sentiment.
Mr Diffey said this is a pivotal moment for the ACCC to shift from being a watchdog to guiding Australia’s digital identity landscape.
“It makes sense; they’ll have the experience to put the right things in place,” he said.
Australia, with a fractured digital landscape, is unlikely to reach the near-universal adoption rates of Singapore. The Singpass Digital ID offers easy access to government services, from filing taxes to renewing driver’s licenses.
However, a consumer-led approach has reaped dividends regionally for Australia, getting it closer to Singapore’s success.
Under Mr Dominello’s oversight, 80 per cent of people chose to use the digital driver’s licence, even though it’s not required by law. Also, 85 per cent of adults use the Service NSW app.
“The key is to make these services trustworthy and easy to use,” he said.
He quoted Emma Hogan, the outgoing Department of Customer Service secretary: “People want empathy inside a crisis. When it comes to transactions, people demand efficiency.”
Mr Diffey agreed that NSW made it much easier for its residents to manage their day-to-day activities through a single app, especially during the pandemic.
“They accomplished this better and faster than most other nations, especially other parts of Australia,” he said.
The ACCC could be the first to regulate similar trust by setting up rules for companies to behave correctly. They could face fines or be removed from the system if they don’t.
“Once these rules are in place, Australians will feel the digital ID system is safer, faster and more private, encouraging more to use it,” Mr Dominello said.
Draft legislation is expected “in the months ahead”, with implementation expected to take place in the first half of next year.
“We are now at the pointy end of this and need meaningful action that puts a convenient and functional system in place within a year,” Mr Diffey said.
If successful, the inbound laws will streamline Australia’s complex landscape of digital IDs. This includes the Trust Framework for Digital Identities (TFID), government portals like myGov, payment systems like eftpos, postal services like Digital iD, and newer initiatives like ConnectID.
If securely connected under a single framework, the ACCC could act as the referee, ensuring these services are safe, private, and user-friendly.
With initiatives like ConnectID gaining traction, Mr Diffey insists that the time is ripe to unify these platforms and make life easier for Australians, all under the watchful eye of the ACCC.
Mr Dominello estimates cybersecurity issues cost Australia up to $40 billion annually.
With a secure digital ID system, even a modest 10 per cent reduction in these costs could save the country up to $4 billion annually.
“That’s four major hospitals a year,” Mr Dominello points out.
“This isn’t just about making services more accessible and efficient; it’s about redirecting significant resources into the community for things like healthcare and education,” he said.
Remote communities may also benefit if ACCC succeeds in a future leadership role.
“It helps those less tech-savvy,” Mr Diffy said, “ensuring that essential services, like financial support, are available to all Australians, making the nation more cohesive and integrated.”
With the ACCC at the future helm of Australia’s digital identity landscape, these projections underscore the economic and social imperatives for getting it right and approaching Singapore’s adoption rates.
“Ultimately, you can’t put a dollar value on getting Digital ID right,” Mr Dominello said.
“Making the individual the hub has been me and my team’s top priority over the last five years. And, it has to be for our country – it really does.”
Some technical issues were experienced during the recording of this vodcast episode, which has impacted its quality. InnovationAus.com apologises for any inconvenience caused.
The Identity Matters: Digital Identity and the Evolution of the Internet podcast series and accompanying articles are produced by InnovationAus.com in partnership with Ping Identity.
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.