Oral Question on Legislative Council Meeting – Q5 The “iAM Smart” platform

LCQ5:The “iAM Smart” platform

Question by the Hon Chan Chun-ying :

The Government launched the “iAM Smart” platform (“iAM Smart”) at the end of 2020, and indicated that it would actively promote and support public and private organizations in using this platform for providing their online services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1)of the respective numbers of registered users of iAM Smart and “iAM Smart+” which is equipped with a digital signing function;

(2)of the service items provided and the number of commercial transactions conducted via iAM Smart, as well as the trend; whether it has plans to increase the number of service items offered by public and private organizations through using iAM Smart; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3)as it has been reported that the Government of Singapore launched a digital identity platform named “SingPass” in as early as 2017, and integrated each citizen’s personal data which were scattered across various governmental organizations into a databank on personal data named “MyInfo”, whether the Government will, by drawing reference from the practices of Singapore or other regions, establish a central databank on personal data with its operation led by the Government, so as to further facilitate members of the public in using the online services provided by public and private organizations through iAM Smart; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology , Mr Alfred Sit:

I am very grateful to the Hon Chan Chun-ying for his question on the “iAM Smart” platform. To further promote the development of smart city in Hong Kong, the Government launched the one-stop personalised digital services platform – “iAM Smart” in end-December 2020, which aims to provide a reliable electronic identity authentication function for members of the public to log in and use various government, public and private digital services, as well as to conduct electronic transactions in a simple and secure manner. At that time, we anticipated that some 130 services would adopt “iAM Smart” progressively by the end of 2023.

There are two versions of “iAM Smart” accounts, namely “iAM Smart” and “iAM Smart+”. “iAM Smart” provides authentication, the “e-ME” auto form filling and personalised notifications functions, while “iAM Smart+” provides the digital signing function with legal backing for handling legal documents and procedures, in addition to the functions mentioned above.

As at the end of May 2022, over 210 government, public and private online services are accessible through the “iAM Smart” platform and over 17 million usage counts are recorded. Amongst the many services, the frequently used ones include the checking of COVID-19 vaccination records and electronic testing records, eHealth, eTAX, vehicle licence renewal, Leisure Link, application for working family allowance, checking of electricity and gas bills, etc.

Regarding the question raised by the Hon Chan Chun-ying, my reply is as follows:

(1) As of end-May 2022, the “iAM Smart” platform had more than 1.3 million registered users, of which more than 400 000 were “iAM Smart+” users.

(2) At present, private organisations from different industry sectors, including public utilities, insurance, banking and financial services, telecommunications, information and communications technology, healthcare, etc., have adopted “iAM Smart” for logging in to their services, performing identity authentication or digital signing. Up to now, services provided by these private organisations have been accessed and used for about 200 000 times through “iAM Smart”, and the number is on a steady rise.

The Government has also been actively encouraging private organisations to adopt “iAM Smart” in their online services. In 2020, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) launched the “iAM Smart” sandbox programme in collaboration with Cyberport to enable public and private organisations to conduct Proof‑of‑Concept tests and develop application solutions adopting “iAM Smart”. The OGCIO and Cyberport will continue to promote the sandbox programme to more sectors and organisations, and provide programming training to facilitate the industry to adopt “iAM Smart”. With more users registering for “iAM Smart” and the increasing awareness from the industry about the benefits brought by “iAM Smart”, we expect that more public and private organisations will adopt “iAM Smart” in future.

(3) The development and application of personal digital identity technology has always been an area of concern of the Government. The “e-ME” auto form filling function which is now available on the “iAM Smart” platform facilitates users to store their commonly used personal data in advance so that they do not have to fill in the same information when using online services of the Government, private and public organisations in future. Having regard to the views of the finance sector, a new address data function has been made available on “e-ME” that enables users to store the utility bills for water, electricity and gas services as address proofs for applying for the services provided by the Government or public and private organisations.

The OGCIO has also made reference to the practice of other regions (including Singapore) where real-time data interchange is made available instead of establishing a central database. With the consent of the citizen concerned, data exchange will be made to facilitate his/her use of government services. At present, the Government Cloud Infrastructure Services are equipped with relevant facilities which enable data interchange among the systems and databases of various government departments via application programming interfaces. In fact, various online services launched by the Government during the epidemic have adopted data interchange for real-time verification of the personal data of members of the public through communications with the systems and databases of various bureaux/departments in order to reduce the processing time.

To further provide the general public with greater convenience, the OGCIO is developing the Consented Data Exchange Gateway (CDEG). Members of the public may opt for authorising the exchange of their personal data among relevant government departments by means of data interchange through the systems, thus dispensing with the processes of entering the data repeatedly. The CDEG will also link with the Commercial Data Interchange being developed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in preparation for data interchange between financial institutions and government departments. The HKMA is now working with individual government departments (such as the Companies Registry) on the detailed arrangement for data interchange so that the financial institutions, with the authorisation by their clients, may obtain and access the data of their clients stored in government systems and databases.

President, once again I thank you for the Hon Chan Chun-ying’s question, and look forward to exploring with the Council on how to take forward smart city development in Hong Kong. Thank you, President.