MyKad: Technology for Whom?
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 during the media briefing for the upcoming CardEx Asia 2006 Conference in Kuala Lumpur published in Bernama is an honest expression of frustration.
Quoting from the article: “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,” Frost & Sullivans’ Program Manager, Smart Cards & Auto ID Jafizwaty Ishahak said.
Blaming the end-users’ lack of awareness and knowledge, she also said that only ten percent of MyKad holders use the other applications that come with the identity card.
She further said that there should be more educating going on in the use of smart cards and in terms of their application so that more people will be appreciative and receptive towards the technology.
Technology Appreciation+Acceptance = Success of Usage?
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 more often. 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?
Several 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 ten percent 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.
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.