Singapore consumers are digitally savvy and demand secure, affordable and high-quality experiences


  • Share
  • Majority perceives Singapore’s digital advancement and e-Government favorably
  • Top challenges include data privacy, cyber security, affordability and shift to “mobile first” mentality
  • Growth opportunities for e-commerce and digital retail, payments and banking

Singapore is seen as a more digitally advanced nation relative to other leading developed countries, according to the majority (52%) of the 1,000 digitally active respondents in Singapore that were surveyed for the EY report Savvy Singapore: Decoding a digital nation. These sentiments reflect the nation’s current top ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI).

The majority (59%) also agree that the government is effectively leveraging technology to improve public services. Yet, they are also looking to the government to regulate emerging digital social issues.

Concerns remain around privacy, security and affordability

Privacy is one of the dominant concerns: a vast 81% of the respondents worry about how organizations collect, store and use data about them, and 75% want the government to impress greater controls and transparency. While Singaporeans are largely aligned on the government’s role in regulating organizations, personal privacy is a more polarizing issue. 43% of the respondents call for the government to take a more active role in monitoring online activity but 20% disagree.

For some, affordability is an issue. Internet speed and access was judged fairly well by the majority (55%) but affordability for mobile data and fixed internet access was considered unreasonable by 44% and 34% of the respondents respectively. Further, 23% think they already spend too much on digital.

Jonathan Rees, EY Asean Advisory Digital Leader, says:

“The Singapore government has been proactively engaging digital technology to better serve the public. While the population holds a positive view of how they are being ‘governed’ in a digital age, there are still challenges to address and high expectations to be met around affordability, privacy, information usage, transaction security and digital content. With high levels of connectivity and concentration of data centers, Singapore must also be extra vigilant of the cyber risk environment. The outlook for Singapore as a Smart Nation is positive, but there is no room for complacency given how digitally well-informed and demanding the population is.”

Growth opportunities for e-commerce and retail but integrating digital for a seamless experience is key

The survey also shows that Singapore has a highly device-centric population. The majority (78%) of respondents check their device upon waking up, to the point where 26% of respondents’ mobile phone usage exceeds five hours daily. They use their phones or tablets everywhere – especially in public places (68%), and for everything – from social networking (98%) to online research (81%) on a daily basis.

They also express an appetite for and acceptance of new digital experiences, including using modern payment methods such as mobile phone tap payments (29%), choosing music streaming over traditional music channels (86% versus 68%), and an interest to purchase from more online retailers (55%).

Around half of the respondents expect a high-quality digital experience as an entry to purchase (54%) and judge a company by their online presence (43%). With 83% of the respondents saying they discover new products and services through online research and almost half (49%) conducting digital research while in store, retailers need to be discoverable through search engine optimization. An overwhelming 88% of the respondents expect websites to be mobile-optimized for viewing and many expect to enjoy the same experience both online and offline.

Rees comments:

“The playing field for retailers is altered today. Digital experiences are not just about online shopping and e-commerce. For many, the physical shopping journey is becoming a more digitally integrated one. For Singapore retailers, there is a significant opportunity in merging the brick-and-mortar store with digital experiences for a seamless, omni-channel service delivery.”

“In response to the relentless pace of digital advances, governments and enterprises must meet the challenges of leading smart transformations to co-create better digital experiences. The service conundrum and opportunity confronting them lie in ensuring consumer privacy and transaction security while delivering high-quality personalized experiences. What is certain is going digital is no longer a ‘wait-and-see’ but a ‘catch-and-act-now’ imperative. Organizations must be ready to reset their customer strategies if they want to successfully capitalize on the growth potential of the digital economy,” concludes Rees.

For the full report, visit


Notes to editors

About the survey
This survey focused on Singaporeans’ digital engagement, offering behavioral insights to guide businesses and government. Survey respondents include 1,000 digitally active respondents in Singapore who have access to the internet or internet-connected mobile devices, are aged 18 years to 69 years and have resided in Singapore for at least a year. Respondents were randomly selected across Singapore to ensure adequate coverage of consumers across age, location and gender. Where relevant, data is weighted to ensure it is representative of the population. This online survey was conducted in May 2016.

About EY
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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd, a member of the global EY organization.