Opening Address by Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Assistant Chief Executive, Online Development, IDA Singapore at The Conference on Trust Infrastructure and Beyond, Goodwood Park Hotel

Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Assistant Chief Executive, Online Development, IDA Singapore
Opening Address at The Conference on Trust Infrastructure and Beyond, Goodwood Park Hotel
Singapore, 18 April 2002

Good morning
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to be part of this conference today. We are gathered here because we understand the intimate relationship between issues of trust and the success of e-commerce. This platform gives us the opportunity to share our experiences and learn from one another. I would like to commend the National Trust Council and CommerceNet Singapore for putting together this conference.

2. All around the world, we are witnessing the third wave of the industrial revolution brought about by the rapid changes in Infocomm technology. Business processes and relationships are fundamentally being transformed. Infocomm technology has emerged to be a key driver for economic growth. In Singapore, the government acknowledges the huge potential of leveraging Infocomm technology for enhancing our national competitiveness, and is working to create a thriving e-Economy.

3. Global research studies show that Singapore has done reasonably well in our transformation efforts. Singapore was rated first in Asia and fifth worldwide for its e-commerce infrastructure in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2001. The Intelligence Unit 2001 ranked Singapore top in Asia and seventh internationally for e-readiness. This indicates that Singapore's e-economy is keeping up with the global developments and is well positioned to flourish in the global ecommerce marketplace.

4. With this established e-infrastructure, E-commerce in Singapore has been growing steadily - both in volume and value. The finding of the Quarterly E-Commerce Survey 2001, which we recently released, shows that B2B e-commerce revenue grew by 26% from quarter one to quarter three and registered an increase of S$29m. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) activity has increased as well, with revenues growing 13% between the first quarter and third quarter of the year. For the full year 2001, we estimate total B2B and B2C sales revenues of S$112 billion and S$2.58 billion respectively. This steady growth, in spite of the global economic downturn, is testament that e-commerce is truly established and flourishing in Singapore.

User Confidence in Transacting Online

5. To further accelerate e-commerce growth in Singapore, and the region, we need to strengthen the existing conducive environment for e-commerce. We need to make it one which is secure and robust. The end-users, both businesses and consumers, need to feel confident and comfortable engaging the online medium. Therefore, we have identified a number of strategies to boost user confidence in transacting online.

Robust and Secure Infrastructure

6. A robust and secure infrastructure, lays the crucial foundation for businesses and consumers to transact online. Work is in progress to promote and drive adoption of technologies like Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), on a need basis, by businesses and consumers through various initiatives such as smart cards and wireless PKI. And applications such as secure cross-border document exchange will be explored to encourage cross-border online transactions. The PKI Forum Singapore, an industry-led body, is also spearheading a project to help businesses identify legal gaps and differences when conducting cross border online transactions amongst eight Asian countries as a part of Asia PKI Forum's initiatives.

Secure E-Payment Services

7. The willingness of a customer to transact and make payments online is a good proxy indicator of their confidence in e-commerce. To put in place a robust and secure payment infrastructure, IDA has been collaborating with key industry partners and government agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore on a comprehensive suite of e-payment services which offer users an additional and convenient way of paying for their online transactions. For debit payments, IDA recently facilitated the agreement between NETS and BCSIS to interconnect their payment switches for online direct debit. For credit card payments, IDA is working with the card associations to ensure that a secure user authentication service is in place. This will serve to minimize credit card fraud on the Internet. These debit and credit transactions are verified using the security framework of e-banking sites of the participating banks. When implemented by year-end, these e-payment initiatives will offer the customer added assurance that his payments are being made within a secure environment.

Trust Initiative

8. Beyond the security which technology provides, a sense of trust needs to be built between the user and the online merchant. This is intangible and is a greater challenge to achieve. When transacting online, users need peace of mind that their personal information and credit card details are well-protected and will not be misused. On the other hand, businesses need a sense of assurance that the business partner they are engaging online is trustworthy. To address this issue, IDA encourages accreditation of reliable websites through the use of trust marks and third-party certification processes. This led to the conceptualisation of the TrustSg Programme, a nationwide trust mark initiative managed by the industry-led National Trust Council.

9. The TrustSg Programme accredits e-merchants with sound business practices by according them the TrustSg seal. To encourage more businesses to obtain the TrustSg seal, the NTC, with support from IDA, has introduced a Trust Mark Certification Fund. This provides up to 50% subsidy on trust mark certification fees.

10. The benefits of the TrustSg Programme are two-fold. Accredited online merchants receive due recognition for their sound e-business practices, secure infrastructure, and their proper treatment of customers' personal data. Users in return, will feel assured to transact with a TrustSg certified merchant, and will in time, gain more confidence in online transactions. In a while, you will hear more about TrustSg and the council's vision from Mr Johnny Moo, Vice-President of the NTC.

Consumer and Business Education

11. Essentially, the building blocks of a trusted e-economy in Singapore are in place. The final piece of the equation lies in educating the users - both consumers and businesses.

12. At IDA, we strive to heighten user awareness of the possibilities and convenience offered by the Internet and how to leverage its benefits for a better quality of life. IDA, in collaboration with its partners from the public, private and people sectors, have successfully organised the e-Celebrations Singapore campaign to encourage adoption of an e-lifestyle. E-Celebrations Singapore 2002 will be extended from a five-week programme to a 52-week thematic campaign to drive e-lifestyle adoption. Our goal this year is to be Asia's most extensive e-lifestyle campaign to shape Infocomm adoption for learning, work and leisure.

13. In the area building awareness among the business community, I look forward to more platforms such as today's conference, which allow us to share insights and discuss ideas.


14. As a nation, Singapore has always embraced advancements in technology that improve our competitiveness and consequently, our quality of life.

15. To attain our vision of becoming a trusted e-Economy with a robust e-business hub, we need to generate a critical mass of users who will engage in e-commerce. The issue of user confidence is a fundamental one which we are addressing in the various ways I've outlined above. Complementing that, are the robust and secure infrastructure as well as the suite of trusted services such as e-payments. As the efforts of the government, the industry and the community come together, Singapore is on the right track to becoming a vibrant trusted e-economy.

16. On this note, I wish you all a fruitful conference. Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023