Posts Tagged ‘MyEG’

The 1Malaysia E-mail Project Revisited

Since I last wrote about The 1Malaysia E-mail Project, Tricubes the company pushing it has come up with a FAQ. It has confirmed some of my thoughts and made me wonder even further how some things are going to work. I’m sitting on a plane now, with not much else to do, so why not write further thoughts…

What’s Possible (and some confirmed with the FAQ)

I initially put forward that I see this as more than just an e-mail project, and believe it to be related to being an ID-based project for one to use government services. I also posited that it would have an API similar to Facebook Connect.

With an ID that is tied to your IC number, you’re going to get single sign on (SSO) across all government services. It only makes sense, considering today to file your taxes, you have one login, to do stuff with the road transport department, you have another and so on. This is now confirmed in the FAQ.

And rather than have an email account that you will probably not use, you will see a floating toolbar, like the Google Friend Connect social bar (that ran on this site before, and was later disabled). When you login to perform your online banking (which may connect via the API), you will see these messages.

Let’s go even further. All Malaysians carry an IC, and its called a MyKad. This MyKad has a smart chip (it is essentially a smart card). Why not give out smart card readers to everyone with a 1Malaysia e-mail account, so that you get two-factor authentication automatically? I have seen smart card readers with fingerprint scanners sell for pretty cheap in bulk, so I doubt this is far-fetched as an idea. This is now generally confirmed in the FAQ.

Will citizens become more civic-minded now that they have easy access to contacting the government? If I see a pothole, am I more likely to send an email now? Will it then go into the correct queue in the customer relationship management (CRM) system that the government is running, and will my problem get fixed? Can I file police reports about break-in’s, and other crimes without spending an hour at the police station? This could be a good thing in a way ;)

Above, I did not address things like: terms of service, privacy policy, and even an ethics policy. If your bank had SSO with the same systems that the tax department had, it could do wonders for revenue collection, but at the same time, is not something people would want. Another thing I have not addressed if this whole two-factor authentication with the smart card reader+MyKad working with all operating systems — this is likely Microsoft technology, and Mac OS X and Linux users might be left out (which would be a step back if this happens).

Remember, all this has to happen by 2020, so Tricubes and their partners have a pretty long future ahead of them.

So while these accounts are not compulsory, the key performance indicators are such that every adult above the age of 18 get on this service by 2015, is quite achievable. If you want to deal with the government, you get an account. Plain and simple. And while you may not be paying taxes yet, you will very likely have an EPF account, and that alone is enough to give you this ID.

Just remember, no one is forcing you to use this for your own personal email.

Its called myemail

I’m glad it’s not called 1Malaysia email and you’re not You really are using the service called myemail, and you are basically That’s not too bad for an address, no?

There is a “What’s myemail” page which is well worth reading (when the site is up). It claims a lot of storage – 25GB for every user. You also get access to Microsoft Office Live as I initially speculated.

Some pickings from the FAQ

It’s a long read, but here are some quick thoughts:

  1. “Malaysian Email” means the service is operated and hosted by a Malaysian company. Tricubes is Malaysian, but their partnership with Microsoft means that they’re getting lots of tech from them. Email, ID, possibly the API and more all seem to come from Microsoft, with maybe only the MyKad reader coming from Tricubes. Does this qualify that its operated and hosted by a Malaysian company? Currently its hosted overseas, but will we see data centers here in Malaysia by then?
  2. Revenues seem to be generated by eating away the pie of POS Malaysia. I cannot imagine the postal service being too happy about this. But we are moving forward, and will this also mean that scanned receipts and documents are now going to be accepted by the government?
  3. More revenues from advertising it seems. I presume this will be very much like how webmail like Gmail works — comb through your contents and habits and show you the most interesting ads.
  4. Revenue from creating an online marketplace could be interesting. Today, eBay, Lelong, Mudah and others have no way to say you’re you. eBay has ratings but that doesn’t mean you’re you. Imagine if the API is extended so that your trading ID had a link to your national ID? No more back-out buyers! Again, we come back to security, privacy, ethics though… Elsewhere, imagine social purchasing — your neighbour just installed a water filter
  5. On security… entire session works via data encryption, which basically is HTTPS/SSL. The end points, access to the server, etc. by administrators is of course possible, but I’m sure there will be checks and balances here (all large services do). Again, no one said you needed to use this for all communication, and let’s give them a chance to come up with a good policy first.

Concluding thoughts for the moment

No mention of how the API will work. Will they allow any agency or even GLC access to the API. Will they charge for access (this is quite likely)? How much data will be exposed? Will the user get to choose what is exposed (Facebook Apps ask you this today for example — users probably blindly click “accept”, but know there’s a choice available)?

I’d advise Tricubes to start getting into using social media a little more. People are liking their Facebook page just so that they could write hate comments on it. Plenty of social media consultants around who can help rehabilitate their image. Also, skip calling it an “email project” and call it an “ID project”. Or a “single-sign-on with two-factor authentication project”.

I’m still wondering where MyEG fits into all of this. There’s a story waiting there. An acquisition? ;-)

The 1Malaysia E-mail Project

There was great furor yesterday on Twitter with the #1malaysiaemail hashtag. I’m happy to say I did not participate :) However, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, especially since I’ve heard about this for a while, and heard about Tricubes being awarded the project. If you don’t want to read everything, scroll down for “What’s definitely possible”.

First, the facts:

  1. This is a private sector funded project. The RM50 million is the investment Tricubes is making, as part of the ETP. And the period of investment? Till 2020.
  2. There is collaboration with Microsoft to provide these services.
  3. The purpose? Stated below:

The 1Malaysia Email project is a government initiative in providing a unique and official email account and ID for the citizens of Malaysia.

This initiative will serve to allow direct and secure communications between citizens and the Government, as well as enhance the delivery of Government services to consumers and businesses alike.

What’s definitely possible

I see this as an ID-based project that helps you log on and use government services. We’re moving into a digital era, and I see us eventually receiving our quit rent notices, and more all via e-services. I think the providing of email is just a by-product. I’m banking on the fact that we’re all going to have MSN Live ID’s for all Malaysians above age 18 to access all kinds of services that helps with e-gov stuff. There will be messaging, but this isn’t entirely email as we’re used to.

We can probably draw parallels with the National Strategy on Trusted Identities in Cyberspace that the United Stats is proposing.

I see the API as something like Facebook Connect.

Update (20/04/2011 – 16:12): I just had another thought. Malaysia is a hub for software piracy. Maybe there will be a tie in with Microsoft Office Live, and then SkyDrive will provide cloud storage services, all with the 1Malaysia ID. The potential for this is huge (and can make people rock up to the portal…).

Random thoughts/questions

Do we need another email account? A lot of people have their own Hotmail, Yahoo! as well as Gmail accounts. These accounts also usually tie in with some form of instant messenger like MSN, Yahoo! Chat, and Google Talk.

However the purpose of this 1Malaysia Email project is for direct & secure communications between citizens and the Government. Phishing is becoming a real problem, and banks are facing this, for example. Maybank has a new authentication method with a picture+passphrase, while HSBC does two-factor authentication with a hardware device. As the government starts sending out emails, the phishers will start conning people. However, email is easily receivable, and phishers in theory can just email you the moment they have your email account details (it doesn’t help unless your email address is private, no?) So maybe the phishing argument goes away…

But maybe it is not email. Maybe its receive only from the government, and everything else from the Internet is denied. Or its like how Facebook Messages used to be — only members can send you email (it’s not like that now, more people have email addresses). And if someone tries phishing, well, we’ll know who they are, since their accounts are tied to their IC numbers!

And since its all web based, we have it all over SSL (HTTPS). Bypass the need for PGP/GPG encryption ;)

The claim is that this is a web portal. So it is webmail. Will there be IMAP? People are getting mobile these days, and are reading emails on their Blackberries, mobile phones, tablets, etc. If the service is webmail only, I wonder what the uptake will be like. Remember, if its yet another INBOX to check, there is less chances of people using it. And if you do not engage or use the service, you’ll miss government emails.

How is everyone getting an ID? Do you choose a username? Is it based on your identity card (IC) number? Is it based on your name as per IC? Signing up will of course be something that happens against your IC number — thats a given.

Who reads your email? I for one will not be promoting my 1Malaysia email address. I don’t see people printing business cards with their email address I do not know if administrators will read my emails, though I highly doubt this, as all large services have checks and balances for this. But I should be allowed my paranoia ;)

What about continuity? 1Malaysia is Najib’s thing. Before him, Badawi had his own mantra (which I don’t recollect). And before him, Mahathir had Vision 2020. Will this email account be around forever, I don’t know. But I’ve had the same email address since the 90’s, and I’m unlikely to ever give that up.

I’ve seen rumours that this is meant to be a portal, which includes: email, social networking, online bill checking and payment, plus there are claims that there will be an API to extend this so others can build applications. Immediately I think MyEG, and for me MyEG is a stock to buy (surprisingly, remains unchanged today on the KLSE). The claim though is that it isn’t like MyEG: “Khairun said the portal was different from the MyEG website, which focused on the payment of bills and summonses, as it would allow interaction between people and the Government.”.

Do we need another social network? Can we keep up with more than 3 social networks, to begin with? Do we only want to be friends with other Malaysians or be friends with people globally? There are so many ex-Malaysians I’d like to keep in contact with, and I’m sure TalentCorp would like to contact them too, but if its tied to an IC number, you lose it the moment you give up your citizenship (as an aside, average time I’ve seen for people that go to Australia? 3-5 years).

Malaysiakini reports: “We will focus on delivery of notices and bills, MYEG is about online payment,” CEO Khairun Zainal Mokhtar told a press conference after the announcement. If you are not compelled to login, will you see the notices and bills? I don’t think so!

Have they thought about storage and quotas, assuming that people actually somehow decide to use this actively?

This is not compulsory for Malaysians. So what is the unique selling point? Opt-in emails from the government? I have a MyEG account because I want to renew my road tax. Or settle summonses. I rather have my notices and bills sent to my personal email account, which I read. I’m unlikely to want to see bills and notices sent to a portal that I have to login separately.Will they then send me an email saying I have a message waiting for me? That’s highly possible :)

I have lots of questions. This system will be rolled out sometime in July this year. I’m disappointed that its all Microsoft based, since there are some amazing opensource ID management systems around, but c’est la vie. Go with the provider that fits the bill!

If anyone from Tricubes/Microsoft wants to share more technical information, I’d be curious to hear about it.

P/S: Many told me about Tricubes being a dodgy firm, having issues on the stock exchange, etc. I don’t know anything about Tricubes besides what I’ve read in the media. So that’s not relevant to the technology discussion I’d hope to have here (if at all there will be discussion).

SMCKL #7 notes: Canon, bfm89.9, MyEG, P1 W1MAX

SMCKL‘s case study night, SMCKL #7 also had some other very interesting case studies. I picked up a bunch of interesting bits.

Rachel from Canon Malaysia

  1. You can find them on Twitter at @CanonCameraMsia. They wish they had more followers on Twitter, because in comparison, their Facebook page has quite a lot more followers.
  2. They’ve got 4-5 people in the marketing department, and most of the marketing executives are very, very young. One thing that was made clear: the marketing folk at Canon are very, very passionate. Corporate policy denies them from browsing social media sites, so they bring their own laptops, and use DiGi Broadband at work, to get their social media stuff going.
  3. Their Facebook strategy has garnered them over 56,000 fans. Find them at their Facebook page. I just visited it, and realised that they have a landing tab (Explore! Canon), so they have invested in Facebook a little. Kudos! To bring traffic, they’ve also decided to engage Canon users: they change their Facebook profile picture on a daily basis. As a reward, you get your avatar, and name displayed on their Facebook page for a day. If you are the monthly winner, you actually get a prize – a printer or a camera! Canon has found this to be a rather successful campaign and it clearly works for them.
  4. They also have a presence on YouTube – iLikeCanonCamera. There are commercials, and more. Now with more video on some of the cameras, like the 7D and 5DMkII, they’re also looking at using Vimeo for video.
  5. They are going to build a virtual community at: EOS World. They already make use of newsletter blasting. They also mention they have a EOS Buddy Club, but that requires some qualifications (i.e. you have to own some of their upper-end DSLRs). The EOS World is open for all. I learned something new with regards to the Buddy Club – I qualify to join!
  6. They do blogger engagement: Brian, aka goldfries, Kim Ong, a blogger called Ah Beng (no link because I couldn’t find it via Google easily), and Namewee.
  7. Something they believe in: under-promise, over-deliver

Freda Liu from bfm89.9 (popular radio station)

  1. They do their own surveys, so it may be a little different in comparison to what other radio stations that pay external organisations to come up stats do. With over 500+ respondents, they found that 46% of BFM listeners earn more than RM5,000 per month, and over 45% of listeners live in homes with monthly income greater than RM10,000.
  2. Their most popular listener age group? 26-30. The next highest are those aged 30-35.
  3. They upload all their podcasts to their website. This is true for all their shows. They get over 7,000 podcast downloads, per week! They might be the most successful Malaysian based podcast channel, for what it’s worth.
  4. They want to give more personalisation via their website in due time. Currently they tweet at @BFMRadio, about upcoming interviews, interviews released as podcasts, and they do try to ensure they are conversational (true – this is one aspect I like about their account), and they do run contests.

KK Chin, MyEG

  1. First up, KK Chin is very funny! MyEG is not a government agency, in fact, they are a public listed company, established in 2001. The reasons they are on social media? “You’re there, we’re there”.
  2. They have about 800,000 users in the MyEG database. They process 3,500 road tax renewals daily (this was five months ago); now, at the end of June 2010, they do 7,000 per day! In comparison, JPJ does about 22,000/day. Incidentally, you can also renew your insurance online, and they’re seeing uptake of 120-150 daily renewals.
  3. They had a Facebook page, started in November 2009, iwth over 8,000+ fans. However in mid-May 2010, Facebook decided to delete the page. They have no idea why.
  4. Their Twitter account started at the same time. They look for words like “myeg”, “road tax”, and “saman”. They will then reply and try to help you! That’s what I call customer service, plus a great customer acquisition strategy. From what I gather, they occasionally also give away free road tax renewals, and more via Twitter/Facebook.
  5. MyEG has crazy ad spend on TV, as well as on AMP radio stations. In comparison, they spend close to 8-10% on social media.

Kenny Wong, P1 W1MAX

  1. P1 believes they were the first to have a digital-specific customer care team in Malaysia. The team has about 8-9 people to engage on social media!
  2. They know being a service provider they do get some flack. They have spent the last 6 months expanding their network, and now believe they will come back on SM a lot more!
  3. They help sponsor Project Alpha, and 15Malaysia. 15Malaysia had some interesting stats: over 510,000 downloads, over 3.2 million streamed, over 15 million page views, nearly 94,000 Facebook fans, and over 1,600 Twitter followers. The most popular video (by viewer-ship and being shared) was Potong Saga.
  4. P1 harnessed YouTube for their ads at one stage. They had spent their limited budget on creating videos, that there was no more money for buying air-time. YouTube was their free distribution mechanism.
  5. Kenny mentioned that if you’re in customer service, working for a telco/ISP< you definitely like pain! You'll get more brickbats, rather than accolades. Sometimes, the same sort of person will condemn, but they will also complement - its about how much people value and resonate with the brand/service. Remember to take the hits. Laugh at yourself. And do that well.

Closing thoughts
Would like to say that SMCKL was very well organised. I see these events just getting larger and larger, and it just gets better, and better. I also enjoyed every single presentation given. I learned something new from every one of them. Yesterday, we also received some schwag: Cziplee sponsored a Moleskine, Papa John’s gave a 50% discount voucher, and Crocs provided a RM20 discount voucher, valid forever ;)

The question about metrics was never really answered. Kenny mentioned brandtology, radian6, and red dot. What is the cost acquisition of a fan? What is the ROI on fans? What’s a fan worth? More fans does not necessarily mean a loyal customer base. Having irrelevant non-targeted visitors also don’t necessarily help.

I also wanted to ask: why invest heavily in Facebook, when they may just zap your page? Sure, go there because people are there. But maybe acquire fans via Facebook, and migrate/sync them to a self-hosted BuddyPress or something?

MyEG, JPJ, VicRoads on road taxes: the difference is trust?

On Twitter today, Christopher Tock stated:

If @myegclub cld have a service to notify road tax of a car nearing expiry date, I’m sure it’ll get more ppl to register under them! ;) #fb

I replied:

Instead, why not send new road tax one month before expiry by mail, and get payment via @myegclub ? @spinzer @nikicheong

Christopher then asked about the situation in which people don’t pay, and they receive their registration labels by mail. And Niki Cheong said that “many people try to find their way around paying for stuff here. ingrained in our lives”.

VicRoads website It got me thinking. In Victoria, Australia, VicRoads sends out registration labels and the certificate every year, about a month before expiry. You then head online, and pay for your registration using your credit card. I believe you might also be able to pay for it in cash at various locations (post office, etc.), though I’ve always done it online. You never ask – what if I don’t pay for it. You just do. I’m sure there are stiff penalties for lacking payment. But the process is easy – it comes to you, there’s no need to remember when things are expiring, and you can pay for it online, all without leaving the comfort of your home.

In Malaysia, JPJ does not remind you when your road tax is expiring. The onus is on you to know this. You then have to head to the post office to pay for it and get the registration label, and settle your insurance at the same time. Or you can avoid all this by sending it to your car’s service centre and they’ll take about two days to sort this out for you. Insurance can be paid via credit card, but your road tax needs to be in cash (or so UMW-Toyota tells me).

JPJ websiteThe government of Malaysia is heavily pushing their e-government services portal – MyEG. You can now renew your road tax online, thus getting rid of the whole visiting the post office or your manufacturer’s service centre. This is similar to what VicRoads does – you enter your registration number and it will tell you if you have a payment to be made or not. This is a step forward – except for the fact, that there is no reminder for you to renew your road tax!

Will it be hard to implement? Of course not. Part of the registration for MyEG includes you giving away your identity card (IC) number. A simple change to the database can ensure that you can tie several cars to your account and you can thus make payment on them. MyEG will know when the road tax is expiring, and a simple SMS message might suffice (bulk SMS costs are cheap). And if they’re more trusting, mailing out of the labels themselves!

But I guess Niki is right – it is ingrained that Malaysians might want to find away around the system, if the labels were sent out, pre-payment. Take a look at petrol kiosks: in Australia, you pump your petrol first, then go in to make the payment. You don’t think about running away after getting your full tank. You do this no matter how much petrol costs. In Malaysia, you pay for your petrol first. Either at the counter, or via credit card authorisation. No payment, no petrol.

I sincerely hope MyEG/JPJ figure this out at some stage. As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, and the goals of the government certainly include getting Malaysia more in-tune with the rest of the First World, it probably makes sense that service delivery takes a notch up.

As a quick aside, do look at both the VicRoads and the JPJ website. Look at how the information is architected. How its presented. Its an interesting comparison. I wonder how many web designers go through this sort of thought process, when thinking about designing websites that are targeted for mass consumption of government services.