Singapore has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and has been able to lift most restrictions recently to enter into a new normal. Trust has been a central pillar of this success given the citizens’ strong confidence in the authorities.

In a recent speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that three key thrusts of trust – competency, commitment, and transparency – were critical in helping the Government make decisions aimed at the people’s best interests during the pandemic. This trust is “a precious resource”, one that sets Singapore apart from many other countries. And yet it is hard to earn, not just for governments, but also for the private sector, especially in an increasingly digital world.

New world of possibilities

Trust is also the genesis of Web 3.0 – a decentralised web where users “own” a part of the internet to cater to individuals’ preferences using their data to offer a hyper-personalised experience. Consumers will be able to receive more relevant and engaging content as their own digital assets are connected to the web.

Underpinning this desire to gain control of one’s data is the rising unease of placing trust with any third party. Trust is crucial to establishing a balance between security and convenience, to unleash the full potential of a connected future and vision of tomorrow’s unlimited possibilities.

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) identified three key pain points companies face when sharing data assets: mutual trust, regulatory compliance and the lack of standardised sharing methodologies. According to Accenture research, 76 per cent of chief executives say citizen trust is critical to business competitiveness while the average cost of poor data quality for organisations is US$12.8 million per year.

The lack of trust in institutions (both government and businesses) remains a key challenge. Stakeholders are wary and perhaps even unwilling to give up data necessary for organisations to succeed.

However, there is value in aggregating data. Users may be more willing to share their data when they see how it benefits them. In England, the National Healthcare Service (NHS) shared years of pseudonymised patient data (identifiable information withheld) with more than 40 organisations, with the aim at expediting medical solutions and treatments. More recently, many countries have used data sharing in areas such as showing proof of vaccination on an app to facilitating smoother travelling or entry in certain places.

There are also benefits in using technology like blockchain to be more transparent with users, while at the same time seeking consent from them for their data to be shared.  For instance, Accenture has helped The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees deliver a biometric identity management system for registering and verifying displaced persons around the world – offering them greater protection in crises.

To build trust, it takes a team

One way companies are being made accountable for data utilisation and aggregation is through the European Union’s (EU) General Data Policy Regulation, which provides a standardised set of data protection laws for EU citizens.

This way, companies that collect data for consent-driven personalisation – where users are engaged with unique online experiences driven by algorithms – will be bound by frameworks that make data sharing safer.

Yet building trust is not a job that the government or the private sector can each take on alone. Collective responsibility between regulators, industry, and consumers must come into play.

Companies should outline clear goals on data usage and implement robust governance to mitigate risks that could compromise sensitive information.

Transparency is also an important enabler when requesting data. Accenture found that nearly three out of four customers will share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it is used. When people are aware of what happens to their data, they are more likely to grant businesses access to it.

This collective responsibility is underscored by a multiparty system. Backed by enhanced security and privacy features, this data infrastructure between individuals and organisations houses a resilient ecosystem to share data. In the near future, this may mean individuals will bring their data in Web 3.0, provide consent and have the data meshed with the government or the private sector for better services and experiences.

We have seen positive developments like IMDA’s Trusted Data Sharing Framework, released in June 2019, which allows both public and private sector companies in Singapore to share data safely and systematically. 

This has enabled the launch of the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), where Singaporeans can consent to use their national digital identity for financial planning. Over in healthcare, private general practitioners (GPs) also have access to health records, allowing the elderly to enjoy certain discounts at GPs in addition to polyclinics.

Such initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg as we move towards our vision of becoming smart cities of the future. Public-private partnerships have shown how they can uplift economies through infrastructure projects or service delivery when done well.

Even as technology evolves, organisations need to start laying the building blocks for digitally enhanced realities and rethink the experiences that their stakeholders will expect, so that they can set themselves up for success in a fast-moving future.


Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.

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Ng Wee Wei

Senior Managing Director – Market Unit Lead, Southeast Asia & Singapore Country Managing Director – Accenture

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