GovCash’s civic tech design, which leverages emerging technologies like face verification, received the “Best Adoption Award” at the Techblazers ceremony in Singapore. The initiative enables unbanked citizens to claim their government benefits at enhanced ATM machines.

Those without a OCBC bank account will still be able to receive their payments with identity-based authentication creating a self-service for citizens.

GovCash is set up by the same agency that also administers the national social security savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

With as little as a payment reference number, citizens can access their cash, which Seetoh Ee Mun, Senior Deputy Director of the Finance Operations & Treasury Department at CPF called “bold innovation”, and was rooted in the CPF Board’s core values of being agile, customer-focused and data smart.

Digital banking a first choice for consumers, cheques in the past 

The unstoppable rate at which banks and governments alike are attuning to identity-based verification and digital technology is beginning the outgoing process of some traditional tokens of payment and the ways we pay, e.g. using cheques. Mobile apps are facilitating the majority of digital transactions, including to receive some government payouts, however while there is still a need and desire to access cash from ATMs.

GovInsider reported that a steady stream of countries have decided to slowly ease off the production and issuance of cheques, out of kink with customers’ expectations and modern banking methods. Countries in the APAC region such as Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand have begun these plans, with the Monetary Authority of Singapore setting a deadline for 2025 to completely eliminate cheques.

The Central Provident Fund is continuously seeking to innovate and ensure the stability of their operations in the future.

GovCash uses GovTech’s digital wallet service and facial recognition through Singpass, Singapore’s trusted digital identity for its citizens.

A cashless society may not be the motivation for digital innovation right now, as cash payments rose for the first time in a decade in 2023 amid the Cost of Living struggle for many people. However, this number is dwarfed in comparison to the number of card users, accounting for half of all payments.

From conception to pilot, the prototype was developed in less than a year. A year following the transition from cheque to fast cash disbursement, emerging technologies are being embedded that will verify citizens while overcoming false photographs and masks etc.

Workfare Income Supplement, Workfare Special Payment and Training Commitment Award.

Photo source: Kua Chee Siong