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Rapid developments in info-comm technology (ICT) have had a profound impact on the way we live, work and play. One of the rising industries in the ICT space is the Identity & Security solutions industry. The effective use of identity technologies is crucial to enhance security, productivity, and convenience in today’s increasingly connected world. Identity broadly consists of Biometric, Mobile ID and Secure ID technologies. Singapore, a tech innovation hub, aims to harness ICT, networks and data to support better living, creating more opportunities and stronger communities. The Government of Singapore is actively putting together the infrastructure, policies, ecosystem and capabilities to enable a Smart Nation.


A recent example is Singapore’s largest e-payment system, EZ Link’s partnership with Gemalto, a global leader in digital security to enable Singapore’s public transit commuters to pay their fare using their mobile phone. Exceptionally well connected by buses and trains, Singapore’s mass transit network boasts a high daily ridership of 6.65 million trips. The island, with its population of 5.4 million, also has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world with 8.1 million users. Gemalto’s UpTeq Multi-Tenant NFC SIM allows commuters to enjoy greater convenience through the embedded EZ-Link application, taking public transport with just a simple tap of their phone. Mobile network operators (MNOs) and banks can eventually use this platform to provide new value-added services too. This launch marks another new chapter in the history of Singapore’s public transport with the transition from contactless to mobile payment.

Another significant milestone in the Smart Nation’s infrastructure initiatives is its adoption of biometric technology. In March this year, Morpho (Safran) signed a contract with Changi Airport in Singapore to supply a solution to facilitate the passenger journey using facial recognition. This biometric control system involving self-bag drop, integrated border clearance and self-boarding gates will increase the airport’s operating efficiency and improve passenger travel experience. This solution is based on MorphoPass Biometric Applicant Management System and MorphoWay automated gates to support the airport’s Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) concept for Terminal 4, which will open in 2017.

Other nations in the region are also adopting Identity & Security solutions. For example, in China, Uber is implementing a facial recognition system for drivers. It’s designed to cut down on the practices of drivers’ sharing accounts or using fake accounts, issues that are apparently more commonplace in China than in other countries in which Uber operates. Uber is now seeking to implement spot checks using facial recognition to ensure that its drivers are who they say they are. The system will use technology developed by Face++, the company that helped to design Alipay’s ‘Smile to Pay’ system for mPayment authentication. Drivers will enrol their facial biometrics via a selfie picture when they register, and will subsequently be prompted to upload live selfie checks to Uber periodically while on duty.

In other parts of Asia, India’s ambitious Aadhaar biometric citizen registry is starting to make some impactful connections with the country’s financial sector. A major new initiative called Unified Payment Interface is leveraging Aadhaar to enable digital banking services for a wide swatch of the population. The system has been organized by the country’s banks, and will allow citizens to text and email money transfers in connection with their Aahdaar identities. While some critics are concerned about the system’s transaction fees, others are diving in, with major online retailer Flipkart already working on a mobile app based on UPI. These developments highlight the rapid pace of technological evolution that Aadhaar is helping to drive in India. And with a billion citizens now enrolled, these moves – particularly the implementation of UPI – should help to dramatically improve banking access and convenience for the country’s population.

Evolving and escalated global security threats are also fuelling the adoption of Identity & Security solutions. Smart Nation Singapore must step up its surveillance and protective work. Recently, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced that travellers arriving and departing Singapore by sea or land might have their thumbprints scanned at immigration checkpoints, as part of ongoing efforts to boost the country’s security levels. Starting from 20 April 2016, the BioScreen system will be rolled out progressively at passenger halls of all sea and land checkpoints. This comes after a successful year-long trial at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal that has seen more than 120,000 travellers go through the new system since last April. The United States started scanning fingerprints of all visitors in 2004, in the aftermath of the Sept 11 terror attacks in 2001. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have also introduced fingerprint scans from 2007.

We are seeing a growing awareness around security threats in Asia Pacific, especially as terrorism incidents rise in the US and Europe. However, the installation of base security solutions in Asia Pacific is still relatively small compared to the western world. The presence of international security companies in the region is limited to Morpho, Giesecke & Devrient, Gemalto, Oberthur Technologies, HID, NEC, Crossmatch, Daon, Smartmatic, and Ingenio; with most corporations driving business directly from the Global HQ. With the rising tension between North Korea & South Korea and increasing terrorism threat to Indonesia, the need for tighter security controls and management at the borders of countries in the region becomes more important.

Asia Pacific ITS regional business leaders echoed the potential of business opportunities in Identity & Security Solutions within the region is phenomenal. However, they all also acknowledged that there is a severe lack of industry expertise in the area of Identity Technologies in Asia Pacific although Singapore does not lack experienced ITS professionals in the Government/ Public sector. One of the biggest challenges is that these professionals lack the training and expertise when it comes to Identity & Security solutions, the shortage in skilled manpower is severe in the Biometrics, e-Documents and Fingerprints areas. Despite the focus on localizing the workforce in Singapore Identity & Solutions companies are considering employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas or expatriate candidate in this skill-short area. This is indicative of Asia’s severe talent mismatch.


How can we address the problem of workforce shortage?

Solving the problem of workforce shortage in the Identity & Security community requires an integrated approach. First of all, all governments and organizations will need to focus on the importance of ownership of security across all employees. This will, in turn, drive greater interest in information security, especially Identity & Security, as a career choice. In the long-term, awareness needs to be increased about the advantages and benefits of a career in Identity & Security in order to attract the talented professionals to the industry. On an immediate basis, this challenge can only be met by upgrading recruitment and talent mapping capabilities. This is where Morgan Philips Executive Search comes in with our value proposition:

  • Our international research centers enable us to quickly identify the best talents anywhere in the world, whether they are actively seeking a new position or not.
  • We can call on the 5000 Club, our network of industry insider experts, to identify the best talent in the industry wherever they may be.
  • Our international database of candidates, evaluated during interviews, enables us to quickly identify the profile that best meets your needs (skills, company culture, etc).
  • Our specialized consultants, experienced and recognized experts in their field with a robust professional network, will work with you to find the right candidate.


Share your opinion, updated resume or recruitment needs with us today.
Contact Augustine Lim, Director Asia Pacific Industrial and Technology  at
Follow Augustine Lim on LinkedIn

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Morgan Philips Executive Search – IT, Digital & E-commerce

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