January 2007

Technology for whom?

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MyKad or Government Multipurpose Card (GMPC) is  a multi-purpose card envisioned by the Malaysian government to enable Malaysians accessing public and private services. The possible data stored in MyKad could include personal identification, driving records, passport information, medical data and monetary transaction. The maximum data storage is currently limited to its 64K memory capacity due to the limitation of the smart card technology being used.

The recent concern regarding the use of MyKad was amply indicated during the media coverage for the CardEx Asia 2006 Conference in Kuala Lumpur, published in Bernama, is an honest expression of frustration.

The Bernama article quoted Jafizwaty Ishahak, Program Manager, Frost & Sullivan, Malaysia as saying: “In terms of adoption, we are fast but when we see the end-users, there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge in terms of full usage of the smart cards.” Blaming the end-users’ lack of awareness and knowledge, she also said that only 10% of MyKad holders use the other applications that come with the identity card. As such, there is a need for more education regarding the use of smart cards and in terms of their application so that more people would be appreciative and receptive towards the technology.

MyKad or Government Multipurpose Card is a multi-purpose card envisioned by the Malaysian government to enable Malaysians access public and private services. However, there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge regarding the full usage of smart cards

Technology appreciation and acceptance

Technology appreciation and acceptance could naturally be part of a new product and service adoption. Business cases, however, show that technology appreciation and acceptance are often insignificant for the success of product and service usage.

Take Google as an example. When Google’s search service was initially launched, only a fraction of people in the world could appreciate its PageRank technology.

After the search service almost constantly provided its users with relevant and useful search results, more people started to use its search service with increasing frequency. Google has now become so popular that Merriam-Webster dictionary recently added the definition of the word “Google”.

Despite Google’s popularity, there are still many people who still do not know or care about the PageRank technology behind the search service, not even within the Search Engine Community.

Learning from business cases such as Google, it is noticeable that the success of product and service usage is often the result of usability, which correlates strongly with relevancy and usefulness, not technology appreciation and acceptance.

Education or user research?

Five years have passed since MyKad was officially launched in 2001. It is, however, still difficult to draw any conclusive analysis to improve the usage of MyKad. The claim that only 10% of MyKad holders use the other applications that come with the identity card should actually become a wake-up call for the MyKad stakeholders, including the Government of Malaysia.

While education could help in the success of new product and service usage, it is difficult to agree that the lack of education could be the main deterrence for technology appreciation and acceptance, particularly in the case of MyKad. The premise that education could result in technology appreciation and acceptance, and eventually successful usage by end-users, is basically unfounded.

Five years have passed since MyKad was officially launched in 2001. It is, however, still difficult to draw any conclusive analysis to improve the usage of MyKad. The claim that only 10% of MyKad holders use the other applications that come with the identity card should actually become a wake-up call for the MyKad stakeholders, including the Government of Malaysia

In the MyKad case, User Research is actually more suitable than education or training. Some insights from MyKad stakeholders, including MyKad users, could be essential to take some decisions needed to improve the usage of MyKad. Malaysians could benefit from a usable MyKad, not a technology-centred one.

New ID cards for foreigners in Malaysia


As part of its anti-terrorism effort, Malaysia has decided to introduce a new biometric documentation system for foreigners and illegal immigrants. The new ID cards with security features would be allotted by the Malaysian Immigration Department. In the first stage some 40,000 foreign students would be given the ID cards, followed by 1.8 million foreign workers. According to Malaysia’s Home Minister Mohamed Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, the existing card for foreign workers, maids, students, trade officers, Malaysia My Second Home owners and workers for outsourcing companies would be replaced. The new ID card would have high physical security features apart from storing the holder’s biometrics, photo and information in its chip.

“There are no borders anymore. Foreigners caught committing crimes will have their information and fingerprints stored in a database to make sure they do not try to enter again under different names after they are deported,” Ahmad said.

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