Singapore: “Chili Crab” or ID?

The island nation of Singapore is known for many things.  Specifically, it is a “melting pot” of sorts including a mixture of cultures, languages, alphabets and nationalities. The city state is known for its cuisine, especially for its famous dish, the “chili crab.” Just like the food, the people are a fusion of all who come to reside there – Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian and the list goes on.  One thing is for certain, the needs for identity verification are as dynamic and diverse as the cultures.  For those of you looking for the best places for “chili crab” in Singapore you can look here.

Chili Crab

Chili Crab

First, let’s take the Singapore national ID card.  The ID card represents the melding of peoples in the way it represents individual’s identity attributes.  Document validation, to verify identity, will tell you accurately that the format is correct (but not necessarily verified).  When a National ID/Passport scan or image is sent to the Document Validation provider they perform an automated analysis checking the validity of the information on the document ensuring the information makes sense and goes together, and that none of the images or data is forged. A Document Validation service provider may check the following data points:

  • Full Name
  • Nationality
  • Date of Birth
  • Photo
  • Gender
  • Document Expiration Date
  • Passport MRZ (Machine Readable Zone – two 44 character rows that convey the data on the Passport)
  • In the case of Singapore, the national ID includes elements very like a passport given the nature of the multicultural country.
  • Full Name – English then Native
  • Race – Example Chinese
  • Birth Date
  • Country of Birth – China, Singapore

Document Validation providers may also check characteristics of a document to ensure it has not been forged or altered.   This can include checking the background print, micro text, whether the document photo has been replaced, whether the fonts used are consistent and correct, and other authenticity checks.  These checks generally require manual review and often supplement automatic checks of the document data points.

However, verifying the data associated with a National ID against trusted sources is a different matter. For example, let’s look at one of the elements on the National Registration Identity Card – race. Surprisingly, Singapore allows TWO RACES in accordance with their race diversity disclosures.  



This is called “double-barreling” which applies to all babies born as of January 1st, 2011.  The ID card represents the melding of peoples in the way it represents race.

Here’s how it works.  Your race must be a logical combo of your mom’s and dad’s races. e.g. Malay-German or Malay-Caucasian. The race in front is regarded as the dominant one e.g. in the above example, “Malay” is the dominant race.  All siblings from the same parents must have the same race, if the kid gets married to someone else of mixed parentage, only the dominant race counts for both.

Next, let’s examine the card and how it represents the melding of peoples in the way it represents names. If you are of origin in another country – perhaps China, but have a Latin English name you will see both the English name and the Chinese name listed on the card in the order – English to Chinese. In other cases, the name may only be the traditional Chinese name, and it can vary and exposes a challenge of using only document verification.  

Name and race are two examples of the challenges of validating identity using document checks without electronic identity verification.

 The best solution is to combine document validation/authentication (Doc check) and electronic identity verification (eIDV).  This both checks the characteristics of the document and the accuracy of the data on it.  Combining Doc check with eIDV check for countries like Singapore will allow you to accurately and correctly verify one’s identity.  


Why I’m Using “Intelligence As A Service” Instead of “Data As A Service”

A common theme in today’s global data verification market is “Data As A Service.” This term is meant to encompass the validation and verification of data elements such as address, phone and email. In today’s cloud services environment, this term is already outdated. Intelligence As A Service is a far smarter and more robust customer offering for address validation and identity verification.

With the advancement of robust cloud infrastructures, there is no longer a dependence on the antiquated models of importing raw data from varied sources, hosting it on local servers and building rules engines on top of the data based on general knowledge and limited global experience.

  • Did you know that in many countries the best data can only be accessed via online query?
  • Did you know that is some countries only local vendors are allowed to build services to query data?
  • Did you know that refresh cycles vary widely for the raw data vendors serve to users?

Now a customer can query the best data and have it corrected and verified by experts on a market by market basis. Further customers can also benefit from local users usage of local solutions which creates a much higher degree of confidence in results and corrections for local data. Local Market Intelligence is ALWAYS BETTER and it is now available in real time for users regardless of where one is on the globe.




Glocalization as an Edge in Strengthening Retailer eCommerce Efforts

Reading the December 4th, 2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal I spotted two side by side articles about retailers growth and challenges (see below). Fundamentally U.S. Retailers are trying to determine what their ecommerce strategy is and whether to go stay local or to glocalize.

Yes I said glocalize which is a derivation of glocalization. Glocalization is the art of globalizing your web commerce presence while at the same time localizing it for the respect countries and regions in which you are expanding. A classic example of where this is important is noted in the WSJ article about Nordstrom’s intent to expand into Canada and how the competition in Canada in the form of Harry Rosen Inc expects to maintain an edge.

Expanding your retail footprint into a new country is not as simple as copying your web site and adding some additional payment options. Even if there is a shared language there is not a shared cultural and experiential baseline. In the case of Nordstrom’s versus Harry Rosen Inc, the Canadian retailer’s chief executive states “We’re experts in Canada”.

Further to that point glocalizing the online order entry process will help enhance the sales experience and create a smoother sales process for customers. Also on the backend making sure your local data capture of Name/Address/Phone and other details are mapped to local standards will ensure that you are leveraging customer data in a way that correlates to a local customer’s expectations and experience. A great example of this is using address correction technology that doesn’t account for localized data and rules. A customer enters Hollywood Hills, CA into an order along with a proper zip code. However the address correction software changes the information to Los Angeles to correlate to the zip code provided. While this may be correct in terms of the address it is not correct for local residents of the region who expect that their “vanity name” is acceptable.

Hopefully Nordys (The local user term for Nordstroms) will apply a glocalized strategy to their Canadian growth efforts both in the brick and mortar experience as well as the online ecommerce experience. Until then I suspect Harry Rosen Inc. has little to be worried about.

U.S. Retailers Learn to Speak Canadian


A&F and Aeropostale Can’t Shake Teen Blue


Amazon Skates Where the Indian eCommerce Puck Is Going

What better time to trot out old hockey metaphors than the opening weeks of the NHL season? And while I’m no particular fanatic of the sport, I’ve always found much wisdom in Wayne (“The Great One”) Gretzky’s famous quip to an interviewer asking what made him an extraordinary player. “I skate where the puck’s going,” he said, “not where it’s been.”

Sage advice, no doubt, but it’s so often hard for managers of business to follow it. We are so mired in the day-to-day efforts to keep our machines churning that it seems impossible to poke our heads up and try to peer into the future; to do that vision thing where we imagine where that puck might be going and prepare for it.

But good businesses know to make time for it. The best ones marshal serious resources for it.

Take Amazon as a case in point. Its shares took a tumble in October when the company announced a loss in 2014’s second quarter. Why? Despite growing revenue, the juggernaut was accelerating its investments in further growth even faster. It was skating fast to where Jeff Bezos and crew think that puck is going.

That includes a recently announced investment of US$2 billion in India.

The Economic Times of India announced that Amazon is expanding its year-old pilot partnership with India Post, the country’s mail service, to get the postman to both deliver your Amazon package and collect your payment. (You can find the article here. ) Cash on delivery seems such an outdated concept to those of us most familiar with eCommerce practices in markets like the U.S. and the E.U. where consumers have long been comfortable offering their credit cards to pay for goods before they’re shipped.

But for many eCommerce related businesses, this is where the puck is. To get where it’s going, they’re going to have to spend time thinking how the future of the industry might look different than it does today and begin investing strategically.

While mature eCommerce markets will see growth rates begin to fall into single digits, developing markets (not just India, but think also: Russia, China, Brazil, Argentina and so many more) are poised for staggering expansion. That’s where the puck is going.

According to The Economic Times article, more than two-thirds of Indian eCommerce transactions occur on a cash-for-delivery basis. That means if you want to stake a claim on that growth, you have to adapt yourself to the eCommerce realities of these countries. The eCommerce winners in India will undoubtedly adapt to a culture that won’t pay etailers upfront with credit cards. They’re much more likely to pay the postman when the package gets delivered.

But change is hard. When you’re used to getting paid in advance, waiting for delivery (and all the uncertainty that comes with it) is no easy transition to accept. Kudos to Amazon for investing in the future of this enormous market.

Applying this lesson to GDC’s own universe, there’s no doubt that industry players of all sorts – retailers, fulfillment specialists, logistics companies, data services, alternative payment providers, etc. – must prepare themselves to ship goods (or their clients’ ) across borders. That’s where the growth will be… that’s where the puck is going.

How are you preparing yourself for the challenges that come attached to these growth opportunities?

By way of shameless plugs, GDC would love to help you think about using our network of the world’s best data providers to get you there. Call us to talk about it.

For eCommerce companies interested in cross-border trade, the Global Data Consortium’s Worldview platform gives you one place to access the world’s best data for Delivery, Identity and Payment.


The Opportunity in Korean Cross Border Commerce

Koreans have discovered the value in cross border commerce arbitrage of many electronic products. For US and other vendors looking for new global market opportunities, the Korean market should not be ignored.

In 2013 there was 47% growth in imports to Korea due to cross border commerce activity. And, mobile commerce in Korea has been growing fast since 2011, at a compound annual growth rate of two-and-a-half times that of the United States. Korean consumers seeking ways to avoid paying for expensive global brands through brick and mortar retailers or domestic e-commerce channels now purposely shop on global platforms and willingly pay customs and duties on products to take advantage of the significant pricing disparity.

In addition, the Korean payment market has adopted a complex ActiveX payment model for buyer identity verification. Only after more than a decade later is Korea realizing the impact of that choice – forcing eCommerce players to conform to prohibitive methods to try and reduce the amount of card not present fraud in Korean e-commerce transactions. However, Korea has recently taken steps to open up the options for its payment and identity verification for online transactions.

Global merchants can take advantage of this opportunity but avoid the complex ActiveX type validation services by implementing other forms of Identity verification offered by companies like GDC and others. In addition, in the same API call you can validate the delivery address information to improve results on delivery time to the customer and reduce call center costs stemming from customers concerned with the status of their order.

Valuable New Market Opportunity. Reduced Fraud and Customer Call Center complaints. Improved Delivery. Try Worldview and See the World More Clearly.


Ex-pats, Students, FACTA and Banking Collide

Read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how US ex-pats are being shut out of the global banking system due to bank concerns with compliance requirements.

When we had the original idea for our company, one of our advisors told us the story of how he had been a long time employee of IBM in Australia. Then he got the opportunity to move to the US with IBM Americas. He moved his family to Boston and then had the most puzzling experience when trying to purchase a car. It seems that the bank could not give him a loan because he had no credit history in the US. Further he couldn’t get anything but a prepaid credit card despite the fact that he was a Visa and Mastercard holder in Australia. For all intent and purpose he did not exist in the eyes of the US financial system. He ended up having to get a letter vouching for him and his employment from IBM just to be able to open a simple bank account.

Why couldn’t the bank run an Australian ID verification or Credit Check on him? Why couldn’t the US citizens living in Germany and Dubai get credit in their new home countries and retain credit in the US despite living abroad? The answer is simple..They don’t have the systems in place that provide them with the access to validate and verify on a global basis.

This same problem exists in the US academic universe. Students accepted into university programs must submit realms of forms and copies to try and prove they are who they say they are to the university admissions department. After they are accepted they are unable to procure simple local credit due to the inability of banks and financial providers to perform a standard identity check on them.

International Identity Verification is not difficult. There are solution providers such as our company that will provide a per click verification of information at a cost of no more than $2.00 per click. Providers are able to access networks of providers that manage ID verification on a country or regional basis. All of this information is available via a web service and is browser based for ease of use.

At GDC we provide this information using a unique network of specialty providers. With just one click banks and other financial institutions can reduce fraud, manage identity verifications and better determine whether an applicant is a good potential customer. With one click you can expand your Worldview. Why not?


Three Simple Steps to Reduce International Shipping Costs

I recently read where almost half of UK online shoppers purchased from sites outside of the UK. To me that is an amazing statistic and it is reflective of the growth of cross-border ecommerce. The other statistic quoted was that the biggest barriers to further growth are Delivery costs and timescales for receiving goods. How global merchant brands reduce this friction will determine future growth and success in the market.

Three Simple Steps to Reduce Delivery Costs

Is it possible for merchants to reduce their delivery costs globally without increasing shopping cart abandonment or adding pressure on your margins? The answer is “yes” and here’s how:

Step One

Globalize your order entry fields to accommodate international address standards

Global ecommerce practitioners should be aware of the fact that address formats around the world are different. Using the U.S. standard fields for order entry on an international web site creates bad address data entry. For example in some countries Street Numbers precede Street Name but in a number of countries it is the reverse with Street Name preceding Street Number. . If your systems are not designed to handle the nuances then you are generating additional headaches. By adjusting your entry fields to international standard formats, a merchant can ensure that all of the needed data is entered in the transaction by the buyer.

Step Two

Perform a real time address standardization and verification check during the order entry process

During the order entry process (but behind the scenes) the address information can be checked and either automatically corrected or flagged for follow-up processing based on the merchant’s preferences. By flagging for follow-up the shopping cart process is not interfered with but the order data itself can be checked before the item is actually shipped.

Step Three

Post Order but Pre Shipping process flagged addresses through a robust Global Address Validation and Correction solution

Those orders that are flagged during order entry should be run through an address verification and correction solution. For about $.05-.08/address a merchant can improve the deliverability of an international address. For any order over US$20.00 in value this cost is well worth the effort the results. Ecommerce merchants are encouraged to select a solution that has the most localized understanding of their key “ship-to” markets.

For orders that are flagged after this process, request additional data from the customer.

By following the above, you will:

  • Reduce the number of bad deliveries based on poor address information
  • Reduce the impact of customers service inquiries related to undelivered orders
  • Reduce the cost of lost inventory due to incorrect delivery and then redelivery of a replacement item to the customer
  • Expand international revenue opportunities by engaging untapped markets previously considered too high-risk or expensive to engage due to mis-delivery concerns.

Practice these steps and your costs go down as well as your delivery timescales. Customers are happy and place more orders.


The Age of Convenience: Don’t let your first shipment be your last

eCommerce, as an industry, is hitting that point of maturity where the smallest things count the most. The internet has delivered on its promise to offer virtually any product to any purchaser anywhere. The long tail grows longer and longer, but the ability for any individual eCommerce provider to distinguish itself on having the widest selection or lowest price is actually shrinking. The markets are remarkably transparent, making it rare that a consumer can’t find the exact same product you’re offering from a dozen other e-tailers with a simple Google search.

So when the playing field is leveled on price and selection, the consumer turns to the softer variables when deciding to buy products from one retailer instead of another. Convenience ranks high on that list, and few things define the buyer’s view of convenience more than quick and accurate delivery.
Well, that’s where there is a problem. According to a recent IMRG study, eCommerce is leaving a lot on the table when it comes to delivering product quickly and accurately. The IMRG Home Delivery Review for 2014, summarized here, tells us that failed delivery remains a hard problem and costs the eCommerce industry upwards of a billion dollars a year. According to Andrew Starkey, head of elogistics at the IMRG:
“Failed deliveries resulting from orders placed with retailers and marketplace traders each year create in excess of £¾billion of avoidable costs – we cannot afford to allow the pace of innovation to slow.”
Beyond the costs spread across the industry comes the problem that bad delivery experience creates for individual e-tailers. Yes, it creates the headaches of managing returns or re-shipments. But more importantly, in a market where it’s harder and harder to distinguish yourself from the competition, it damages the consumers’ perception of the convenience you offer. It makes them less likely to come back and buy from you again.
The first shipment could be your last shipment. At GDC we spend a lot of time perfecting the use of address verification, identity validation, geocoding, and other specialty services to ensure accurate and timely delivery with the first shipment. It can save e-tailers a lot of money, no doubt. But more importantly, it boosts their ability to compete on convenience in an otherwise leveled playing field, and that means shipping more product to satisfied repeat customers!

Insufficient Identity Verification Troubling Mobile Payment Development in Nigeria

Helix Institute of Digital Finance has recently published a report on mobile payment in Nigeria. Based on interviews with mobile payment agents, the research points out that aside from regulatory uncertainty — which led mobile payment providers in the country to speculate about the rules instead of fully engaging in expanding business — insufficient identity verification is a main problem that hindered the development of mobile money in the country.

According to the report, most of the mobile payment customers in Nigeria still remain at the lowest identity registration level, which requires only a name and a phone number to activate, but limits the amount per spending to as low as 18.5 USD. This results in the frequent need to divide the bill in order to complete a transaction, giving the agents more commission at the customers’ cost. On the other hand, the information gathered in low-tier, sim-card based registrations is often not properly checked in an identity verification system, leaving the security of transactions at risk. Overall, the current insufficiency in identity verification is bringing down the quality of mobile payment service in Nigeria, and preventing broader business development.

In order to tackle this problem, efforts from various directions are called for. Agents — who are the first point of contact for end users and are carrying the brand for providers — need training and permission to initiate higher levels of identity registration. This requires combined work from both the providers and regulators. Efforts also need to be made to motivate customers to go for higher tiers of identity verification and increase their spending limit. On this point, marketing campaigns on both electronic media and point of sale should be utilized to give people more exposure to mobile money, as the general awareness among Nigerian public still remains at a low level.

To read the full report, please go to:


What We’re Reading 7/7/14

This week we are reading about the growing trend of sythetic id theft, Chinese regulators veto of a global shipping pact, and cyber criminals targeting alternative payments in Brazil.


‘Synthetic’ ID Theft Emerging As Fastest-Growing Type Of Consumer Fraud-CBS

A California man faces prosecution for Synthetic ID in what prosecutors believe is the second type of this case in the country. Synthetic ID theft, combining real and fake indentifying information, has now surpassed traditional “true-name” fraud. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that such frauds now account for 85% of all identity fraud, and the trend appears to be growing. Read the full story >>


China Blocks European Shipping Pact, Sending Maersk Down-Business Week

Chinese regulators have blocked the proposed P3 vessel-pooling accord, citing potential threats to competition. Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM SA agreed last year to an operational pact that was projected to reduce costs on trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacifc and Asia-Europe routes.  Read the full story >>


Cybercrime Scheme Uncovered in Brazil-New York Times

Soccer fans are not the only ones eyeing Brazil during the World Cup. Researchers have uncovered a scheme by organized cyber criminals to target $3.75 billion in transactions. Targeting Boletos, an alternative payment method popular in Brazil, the full scope of the theft is not yet know. However, some experts suggest the scheme could be the largest of its kind.  Read the full story >>