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Corporate Digital ID to promote MSMEs in ecommerce: Singapore's CorpPass

Updated: May 13


A corporate digital ID can enable MSMEs to efficiently access a range of trade-related services with a single ID. It could help online sellers forego time-consuming, costly, complex, and often paper-based due diligence processes such as “know your customer" (KYC) and “know your supplier” (KYS) processes with service providers. Corporate IDs also help businesses leverage government services and more easily access bank accounts and financing as well as secure insurance and logistics services.


Singapore launched Corporate Access (CorpPass), a corporate digital ID, in 2016. CorpPass forms part of Singaore’s Smart Nation goals to create secure and reliable digital services for citizens and businesses. It was developed by the Singaporean government’s technology unit GovTech, to enable businesses and non-profit organizations to log into and access 140 government services across dozens of government agencies, such as customs, land authority, and health ministry.


CorpPass also differentiates people from businesses by allowing employees to use CorpPass instead of SingPass, Singapore’s digital ID for individuals, when transacting on their company’s behalf. Two individuals can transact on their company’s behalf using CorpPass. Companies and organizations can request ten sub-administration accounts for specific tasks and finance-related issues. For large organizations such as hospitals, the cap increases to 25. “CorpPass 2FA” enables foreigners who do not have a SingPass to log into CorpPass.


CorpPass was developed in response to the limited ability of SingPass to serve corporate users. Before CorpPass, company employees used SingPass to log into government digital services and make transactions for employers. Prior to CorpPass, government agencies often did not know which company was represented by those logging in with SingPass or whether they were authorized to transact on behalf of the company in question. Individuals could also risk their personal information and credentials when acting on their companies’ behalf. CorpPass separates individual accounts from business user accounts. For example, SingPass identifies users by their username or national registration identity card number, whereas CorpPass identifies users by the company’s Unique Entity Number (UEN).


CorpPass simplifies B2G activities and transactions, saving busines users time and reducing duplication of efforts when dealing with government agencies. But perhaps the main value proposition of CorpPass is that it enables a business to access data associated with its ID that it has submitted to various government agencies and use these data to access financial services, by providing for example a bank to access the data via an API.

One challenge during the development of CorpPass was prioritizing CorpPass functions and standardizing requirements across government agencies. After conceptualizing CorpPass, the GovTech team consulted with participating agencies to assess their needs and concerns. The team also met with businesses and developed material to educate businesses about CorpPass functionalities. The team then guided agencies’ transition to the CorpPass interface. Agencies that onboarded CorpPass early were asked to share issues they encountered in the transition; the GovTech team applied these lessons to smooth the transition for the next government agencies incorporating CorpPass.


On the corporate side, the GovTech team uses a data-driven approach to segment businesses into different sizes and types to facilitate their onboarding process and transition to CorpPass.


CorpPass became the only method for businesses to login to transact with the government in September 2018. More than 90 percent of Singaporean businesses are now using CorpPass to transact with government agencies.


There are a handful of other corporate digital ID systems around the world, such as:


· In the Netherlands, eHerkenning enables firms to securely login to over 400 government organizations and makes government services accessible online for entrepreneurs. This provides agencies certainty about customer identities and helps businesses ensure they are doing business with the correct people.


· e-Resident in Azerbaijan enables user from anywhere in the world to open and run a business remotely and then also use that business to operate with EU businesses and EU customs. E-Residents can also act as legal representative across government services and banks.


· British Columbia’s OrgBook BC is a blockchain-based an online directory that accelerate authentication of businesses. Unlike federated systems like CorpPass that imply one registration with a trust anchor trusted by many (such as many government agencies), OrgBook is a centralized identity that is created once and trusted globally: legal entities manage their own digital identities and multiple entities contribute to an identity’s credentials. This helps reduce due diligence time on a new supplier or client from hours down to a few seconds.


· Most European countries have strong national digital ID systems, but their usage by businesses is often limited.


Going forward, as countries create digital ID systems for individuals and enterprises, the challenge is to ensure the national systems interoperate, so that users can easily operate across borders. Today, such interoperability is limited, partly due to differing national regulations and customer due diligence requirements, for example.


The European Union has sought to further the interoperability of digital IDs among EU Member States through eIDAS, an EU-wide digital identity based on national digital ID systems. IDAS is to enable Europeans carry out such functions as submit tax declarations, enroll in university, open a bank account, establish a business, authenticate internet payments, and bid for tenders in other member states. However, the concept has yet to be operationalized EU-wide, and the ID systems that are its foundation covers only a share of firms and citizens in a given country.




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