Malaysia calls its smart card a success
ACW - Vol.23, No. 29, 2-8 September, 2002
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KUALA LUMPUR: THE agency overseeing the development of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) is touting the success of its Government Multi­Purpose Card (GMPC), or "smart card", project. Malaysia, which claims to be the first country to issue such smart cards to its citizens, will be exporting this technology to Indonesia, and hopefully to the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Bahrain.

After receiving criticism that the MSC's government-driven flagship applications were stuck in first gear, the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) countered with the claim that the smart-card project was an "MSC success story". MDC senior vice-president Narayanan Kannan said that so far, two million smart cards had been issued to citizens in the central Klang Valley region.

The smart card project will be rolled out to the rest of the country next year, he added.

He said the smart card, named "MyKad"; has generated "tremendous interest" among the various heads of states who regularly visit Malaysia and the MSC, about an hour's drive south of Kuala Lumpur.

Reports indicated that Iris Corp, which leads the consortium developing MyKad, signed a contract with the Indonesian immigration authorities during Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's visit to Indonesia in August. The initial order is for 500,000 Indonesian equivalents of the Malaysian smart card.

The Indonesian contract is the second that Iris has inked in recent months. The first, in mid­July, is a pilot project in Myanmar for electronic passports similar to the Malaysian Electronic Passport.

The smart card integrates four government and two optional applications: national identification, national driving licence, passport details, health information, e­cash, and a public key infrastructure (PKI). The plastic card is embedded with a security enhanced 32K microprocessor that is multifunctional across varying systems.

The GMPC is one of the two components of the multipurpose card flagship, the other being the Payment Multi-Purpose Card, which will cover credit card, debit card, ATM and e-cash applications.

Although being developed separately, the aim is to eventually merge the two cards into a single platform supporting government and payments applications, as well as those developed by other MSC flagships.

Narayanan said the flagship applications, which will cost billions of ringgit, are important to the success of the MSC. Most of the applications are still in the pilot phase and would be rolled out nationally after a thorough evaluation, he said recently.

He admitted there were "some delays"; adding it was better to make mistakes in the pilot phase than when they are launched.

In Hong Kong
Smart ID cards will also be introduced in phases from mid-2003 till 2007 in Hong Kong, one of the first in the Asia-Pacific to have multi-application electronic identity cards.

The SAR government estimated the cost of the cards alone at one-third the project cost of HK$3.06 billion (US$392 million).

The new cards, to replace the existing laminated paper ones, will carry digital certificates issued by the Hongkong Post Certification Authority for secure online transactions such as banking, stock trading, and renewal of driving licences.

But there is concern about the card's durability. According to Hong Kong-based Gartner analyst Dion Wiggins, these cards would last for only a few years, and replacing them is inconvenient since they hold various applications.

The first phase of the system would be supplied by a consortium led by PCCW Business e-Solutions.