This article is a submission for the Techsaucier of the Year 2018, written by Lim Jie Samantha.

It is common knowledge that digitisation is the current “big” thing in the tech industry. With the advancement of technology, we can see the integration of artificial intelligence, data analytics, machine learning and the like in our daily lives. FinTech, HealthTech and InsurTech provide upgraded systems that help us to manage our finances, health and insurance and thanks to that, our quality of life has improved. Gone are the times where people lug around cold, hard cash for a simple payment transaction. Now, they can transact with just a few taps on their mobile phones. Wearables, which help to track and analyse a person’s bodily behaviours, are also becoming increasingly popular. What’s more, we can now enjoy more relevant insurance products that are tailored to our needs more accurately.

Photo: Artur Łuczka on Unsplash

The rise in technology has surely brought about countless benefits to society at large, in terms of efficiency and ease-of-use. The world is rapidly speeding towards a digitised tomorrow—but at what cost?

Privacy protection has been cited as one of the major concerns and roadblocks of digitisation. Already, hackers have grabbed the opportunity to sabotage companies and steal information. In recent years, Yahoo suffered data breaches, compromising the information of millions of users. In Singapore, the health records of 1.5 million people, including citizens and cabinet ministers were leaked from SingHealth. Hackers are making use of technology to commit cybercrimes and the increase in data breach cases illustrates how rapid improvements in technology may have compromised data safety.

Photo: Taskin Ashiq on Unsplash

Though many are supportive and excited about the age of digitisation, a significant proportion are concerned about the security of personal data. Without proper security, one’s data and personal information may be easily accessed by unauthorised persons with intent of harm, hence endangering the safety of the individual as well as those connected to him. Due to this concern, many are reluctant to ride the digital wave.

Biometrics in personal identification is already being developed and used in some countries. China, for instance, is using facial recognition for cashless payment. Voice and fingerprint recognition are also used to verify a person’s identity, such that identity theft is minimised. However, how accurate are those? Will twins face issues when using facial recognition? What if a person’s fingerprints are faded to the point where there is trouble detecting it? Such doubts will naturally arise in the consumers’ minds, and the technology industry must find ways to foolproof their identification methods such that identity theft is minimised, or even better, eliminated. It would be much easier for companies to gain the trust of customers when they know that their personal data is safe with it.

Photo: Lavi Industries

Furthermore, as new ways of incorporating technology into people’s daily lives are innovated, the dependency on digital services is also skyrocketing. When consumers are highly reliant on their mobile applications and electronic devices to go about their way of life, a glitch in the system can cause a huge inconvenience. Imagine not being able to log into your banking application when you want to pay for your lunch. Queues will be held up and those who do not have cash on hand may have to skip the meal. Customers will be unhappy, and the company whose app faced the glitch may risk losing their customers’ trust and loyalty. This illustrates how a small issue could bring about a major inconvenience to people in the digital age.

Hence, ironically, digitisation may bring about more convenience as well as inconvenience to the public. To ensure that consumers’ safety and experience is not compromised, the technology industry must first focus on building a strong foundation for their services. Instead of rushing hastily towards innovating new services that would bring more convenience, tech companies should first ensure that their platforms are highly guarded against potential cyber threats, and that there are backup plans available in the event of a glitch. When such fundamentals are ensured, the industry can then move on to come up with new ways to cater to the people of today.

Photo: Travis Saylor from Pexels

As someone born in the digital age, I think I speak for many when I say that I believe safety and security is far more important than the variety of digitalised services provided. It is okay to take things at a slower pace if it is for the sake of ensuring the customers’ security. The future for the tech industry is bright, but there are numerous risks and obstacles in the way. I believe that with the right priorities and preparation, the risks can be minimised and the obstacles can be overcome, such that the people of the future can enjoy only the benefits of digitisation.

This guest post is by Lim Jie Samantha student of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore.


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