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The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) will launch a digital asset trading platform in the second half of 2021 to allow trading on all types of digital token assets excluding cryptocurrencies. According to the SET, cryptocurrencies do not meet its product qualifications and could facilitate money laundering, while causing harm to the bourse’s image as a “high trust” exchange.

The Executive Vice-President of the SET stated that the digital asset platform will be similar to other popular e-commerce marketplaces but all products on SET’s platform will be digital token assets. He said tokens traded on the platform must meet at least one of three conditions. First, the token must have an underlying asset that investors can analyse on value. Second, it must be a valuable product that supports economic activities. Third, the product must have benefits to society and the environment.

The bourse also formulated a fully integrated distributed ledger technology (blockchain) and digital asset investment service in 2020 to link various digital asset exchanges, digital wallets and initial coin offering (ICO) portals in Thailand under one platform via a collaboration with an arm of a banking group in Thailand.

The bank will be responsible for sourcing and screening products entering the SET digital asset marketplace. The SET is looking to sign an agreement with other partners with an aim to achieve exponential growth through tech innovations and investments via its three arms.

The SET also has studied several ICO cases. Most projects being studied have the possibility of making profits in the future. In order to protect investors, the digital asset must meet at least one of the three conditions set by the SET but cryptocurrencies don’t meet any of them. Thus, they cannot be counted as the SET’s product even though some countries accept payments in cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies are currently used in some countries which are experiencing high inflation and currency fluctuations such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela as an equivalent of fiat money. Thailand has a strong economy. As inflation has remained low and the Bank of Thailand’s measures to keep the baht stable have worked in the past, the SET has no reason to support cryptocurrencies at the moment.

However, the Executive Vice-President said some stock exchanges in Europe currently provide cryptocurrency trading to attract digital asset investors before launching other digital token assets via their platforms.

He said one of the measures to prevent money laundering is to do “Know Your Customer” (KYC) with clients who open trading with the exchanges. KYC will filter and screen unusual investors who come to open trading accounts. Cryptocurrency is just one digital asset product among others, he added.

The bank and other ICO portal firms will search for new products and evaluate the ICO project before putting them on the trading platform. As each product has different characteristics, the bourse must employ experts from different areas to help screen the products.

Digital token assets can be many valuable things such as diamonds and title deeds.

The SET expects that the digital asset marketplace will grow faster than today’s stock market as it emerges in the 4.0 era, while the traditional markets were established in the 1.0 or 2.0 eras which had less technologies to facilitate trading. The stock and bond markets are also governed by regulations that are far less flexible than the digital asset law and usually need intermediaries such as brokers and banks to make transactions.

As the world continues to navigate the waters of the new normal, unprecedented accelerated digital transformation continues to be the need of the hour. However, as organisations increasingly migrate to virtual operations and transactions, there is an urgent need to protect against potential breaches and cyber intrusions. Cybersecurity threats are indeed on the rise. Ransomware and cyber incidents have multiplied, adding to the already complex crisis management morass for many organisations. Executives are now looking for the best and most sustainable critical event management strategy, while also saving time and cost.

In recent months, cybersecurity has been inextricably embedded into operations frameworks of organisations, in both the government and the private sector. Reports showed that companies’ budgets for these systems have spiked by more than 50% and towards the end of 2020, these security solutions were anticipated to form as much as half of the overall funding. Despite this, several agencies are uncertain as to how to adapt these tools and solutions. In the absence of adequate precaution, planning and programmes, many organisations are left stranded and exposed when hit by an unexpected critical event.

Such eventualities can be addressed by setting up a robust critical event management programme (CEM). This was the essence of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight: Strengthening Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness: Enhancing Readiness, Response and Recovery.

On the 21 January, OpenGov Asia, in collaboration with Everbridge, hosted the OpenGov Live! Virtual Breakfast Insight for senior digital executives from both the public and the private sectors in the Philippines. The event focussed on establishing strong cyber resilience in organisations with effective risk management tools to be fully prepared for managing crises and cyber risks.

The role of critical event management in upgrading work systems

Mohit Sagar: By investing in a risk management programme, cyber resilience becomes muscle memory

Mohit Sagar, OpenGov Asia’s Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, opened the session with a short introduction of the participants and the topic. He highlighted the importance of having a reliable incident management programme to ward off potential data security risks.

The current scenario in many organisations in both the public and private sectors is a delicate balancing act. He painted a picture of a group of ballerinas in a difficult balancing pose. Like these ballerinas, organisations have to balance technology, customers, employees, regulations and stakeholders in the precarious new normal. If any one of these components fail or shift, the whole construction can crash.

This tightrope act works well when everything is in equilibrium. However, an imbalance, misstep or unmanaged tension can have catastrophic results.

Reflecting on how the world responded to the pandemic, Mohit then questioned the readiness of the organisations in dealing with cyber risks and their continuity plans. Lacunae were painfully evident last year with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology did help manage the pandemic in terms of being able to work from home but was only a temporary solution.

Prior to the pandemic, the need to consider the impact of potentially critical events was more of a theoretical pursuit and organisations plodded along with traditional plans in place. However, when the crisis hit, organisations were floundering, ill-prepared for such a massive disruption. Significant changes were urgently required to just stay afloat.

Many organisations were able to turn things around and somewhat mitigate the impact of the pandemic. But the fact is, not all organisations were able to come out unscathed, and the reality is that there is still a lot to be done to upgrade work systems and processes to accommodate the new normal.

The solution, Mohit said, is not to hope for an auspicious year to get through 2021, but to learn from past mistakes. There is a need to find out what went wrong, develop a better understanding of organisational cyber risks and determine to set a robust resilience plan in place. From this, organisations can incorporate changes in their operation models, retrain employees and most importantly, invest in strategic tools like a critical event management system.

Technology is at our fingertips and it proved to be the saving grace last year. But resilience must not be equated with being able to keep the business running through remote methods.

Mohit emphasised that putting up event management systems must not be shouldered by organisation management alone. Operational resilience is tied to effective communication that is well-received on both ends – employers and employees, management and staff. To do this, ensuring seamless communication is key and becomes crucial in crises. It may come at a price, but in the end, it must be done.

According to Mohit, creating an operational resilience plan is not an easy task. It relies heavily on cybersecurity expertise and professional critical event management systems. Therefore, it is expedient for agencies to work with the right partners to ensure that they have the best strategy in managing upcoming cyber risks.

Setting up an adaptive event management programme suited for each organisation

Sonia Arista: Cybersecurity needs to be constantly improved to remain current and relevant

Sonia Arista, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Everbridge, furthered the discussion after Mohit. She briefly shared her background in information security management and introduced Everbridge.

Everbridge is a global critical events management company that strives to keep businesses running continuously through any events that affect the workforce and supply chain, such as IT disruptions, and to maintain visibility and communications between employees and leaders on events that might affect the business.

Working in information security program management means that half of the time, Sonia needs to oversee product development as well as operational areas. The other half of the time, she is responsible for maintaining the security of Everbridge’s employees’ information and environments and maintaining a standard of security.

This can be challenging for several reasons. First, full visibility in the context of what is happening is difficult to achieve. Second, determining the level of severity of the events and the parties is not straightforward. Thirdly, how to notify relevant people, what messaging is needed, it is a one-way communication or is feedback required can make response complicated.

In short, identifying the appropriate response plan to the event and putting it into action is the name of the game. She also felt that assessment post-crisis is important to determine areas of improvement and potentially developing guidelines for other members in the industry.

To address this, there must be an adaptive critical event management programme integrated within operations models. However, Sonia was quick to acknowledge that deploying a CEM programme is no walk in the park. None the less, the rationale is that the more time spent to impact-proof operations, assets and people the better the resilience during critical events.

Sonia went on to explain her take on simplifying and unifying critical event management. To streamline the whole process, Everbridge views 4 factors to be at the core:

  1. Assessing an incident
  2. Locating what is happening, identify stakeholders and assets impacted
  3. Acting and responding to the event – inform, notify, rally, collaborate, mitigate, fix, and recover.
  4. Analysing the performance on the course of the incident, and to offer possible improvements on the processes

According to Sonia, there are instances where organisations need to manage multiple crises. Events can happen in tandem and are often caused by multiple factors such as supply chain disruption, disease outbreaks, severe weather, etc. All of these elements together contribute information to the events, and by applying the four core factors mentioned above, an organisation can fully mitigate and resolved any event.

Different business models will have different focus areas and critical event management takes different forms for organisations across various sectors. For example, companies with multiple factories will want to focus on physical access control to maintain standards in their facility, weather services for health systems to predict patient influx caused by natural disasters and threat intel engines in cybersecurity. She underscored this point by showing a list of partners that collaborated with systems such as Everbridge to bring comprehensive intel and context in remediation planning.

Sonia summarised her presentation by acknowledging that there are various programmes that an organisation can utilise. It all depends on which key areas that a specific agency would want to focus on so that the proper critical incident management can be deployed.

Enhancing cybersecurity measures through critical events management

Charlotte Wood: Cybersecurity needs a risk-based approach that is people-centric

Following Sonia’s presentation, Charlotte Wood, Director of Policy and Awareness of Cybersecurity at New South Wales Government shared her experience with the participants.  Her department is responsible for setting standards and providing leadership in cybersecurity and affects all 120 entities in the NSW Government that consist of approximately 400,000 employees.

According to Charlotte, there are 3 pillars of cybersecurity: 1) Confidentiality of digital information held, 2) Availability of the information accessed digitally by people whenever it’s needed and 3) Maintaining the integrity of the digital system and services – data must not be modified improperly, whether maliciously or accidentally

Charlotte explained that the initial question to be answered is: what is an agency trying to protect when integrating cybersecurity measures. As with most, if not all workplaces, protecting the confidentiality of data is paramount, as well as keeping such information intact and readily available. In and of themselves, these two components are not sufficient. There must be workplace safeguards to ensure the integrity of data and that malicious activities do not compromise it.

One way to balance these three key components is by applying a risk-based approach and the NSW Government uses this methodology. With their standard, they address the level of risk in 3 main areas: 1) Technology and Infrastructure – in protecting their digital system and services, 2) Procession and Organisation – the standards set and 3) People and Culture – the employees’ understanding of cybersecurity

However, more critical than these 3 areas is the risk and impact of the events to the people of NSW. The risk level dictates how they prepare for the attacks, and how they prioritise the different attacks. The risk-based approach has allowed the NSW government to have a standard framework that will work in different agencies with different needs.

Mitigating the impact of critical events does not end with a cyber risk approach. It is a holistic process that improves on key aspects of the workforce including retraining employees. She added that while the notion that cyber threats can be prevented is a myth, agencies can mitigate impacts by training people and by putting up a solid cybersecurity framework.

Charlotte concluded her talk by reiterating that investment in a cybersecurity programme is a continuous cycle. As data breaches become more sophisticated, systems must be improved and defences against these threats must be fortified. Organisations can do this through prevention and simulation of potential threats.

Polling questions

After the engaging discussion by the speakers, participants participated in polling questions and discussions regarding their risk management and cybersecurity protocols, as well as the challenges that they see in this area.

When asked about their key concerns around cybersecurity in their organisations, nearly half (49%) of the attendees voted for employee education in IT security.

A delegate from the Department of Energy said that educating employees is one of the major hurdles that his agency is experiencing. The reason is that most employees fail to grasp the importance of cybersecurity and because of this, the responsibility is left in the hands of IT professionals.

An executive from the Department of National Defense shared the same sentiment. She noted that with their current remote work programme, educating employees and enforcing security policies has become more difficult.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of cybersecurity architecture, two thirds (66%) of the participants said that they do this by looking at the ability of the organisation to respond effectively to impending cyber threats. Data protection, threats response and effective mitigation are their main measurements.

Interestingly, 20% of the participants stated they did not have any measurement and wanted to learn from the others. One participant from the government said they are interested to find ways to measure this area in their cybersecurity policies.

The third question was on how the participants rate the level of preparedness of their organisation to cyber threats. Few were unsure and some admitted that they are not well prepared. 45% of the participants felt that they are prepared but they have doubts if it can withstand infiltration.

The fourth question asked the participants on their biggest challenge for accelerating their response to IT incidents, a large portion, mostly government officials, voted it to be the lack of skilled Cybersecurity or IT professionals. They experienced budget constraints and felt policies in hiring these professionals were difficult to follow.

For well over half of the delegates (60%),  the lack of skilled Cybersecurity/ IT Professionals is the biggest challenge they see in boosting their cybersecurity protocols. Others felt information overload and alert fatigue to be challenging since IT incidents involved not only cybersecurity but also operations.

The last question was on how participants’ security operations are currently driven. For the most part, delegates said they were compliance and incident driven but now realise the importance of risk-based or intelligence-driven parameters and were working towards it.

Conclusion

The session came to a close with Sonia stressing the need to establish a critical incident management programme in order to ramp up cybersecurity in the overall organisational framework.

She re-emphasised how different elements contribute to an incident and that it is important to look beyond the confines of technology. Keep educating and spreading awareness, pick up intelligence from suppliers and partners that are helpful for the organisation in responding rapidly to events in an automated consistent fashion.

Sonia thanked the participants for their wonderful insights and contributions and encouraged them to reach out to her team and her on their CEM journey.

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) launched its new FinTech Centre located at the InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong to accelerate cross-industry innovation and forge the new era of financial services. This reflects HKSTP’s ongoing commitment to reinforcing Hong Kong’s global leadership as an international financial hub through innovation and technology.

FinTech Centre is the latest addition to the evolving InnoCentre and a key pillar in HKSTP’s growing Fin+Tech ecosystem. The close-knit ecosystem brings financial institutions, regulators and academics, together with fintech startups and companies focusing on extensive R&D in Hong Kong and globally.

The CEO at HKSTP stated that fintech is a strategic focus for HKSTP. Their vision is to nurture the best possible Fin+Tech ecosystem, which has seen rapid growth in recent years. The FinTech Centre’s launch is a new chapter in Hong Kong’s path to be a world-leading fintech hub. Our fintech companies will create the advanced technologies necessary for the financial sector to build a new era of financial services in Hong Kong, Greater Bay Area and beyond.

The Centre will provide a focal point for different stakeholders to collaborate with fintech companies and co-create projects for the financial sector that harness advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity and data analytics. The Centre will also serve as a base for business matching, a soft-landing for overseas fintech companies, talent nurturing, laboratory and proof-of-concept trials.

The launch is one of several HKSTP-led initiatives to drive fintech collaboration and co-creation in 2021.

Building Next-Generation Banking Services  

HKSTP is also rolling out its Banking Virtual Lab which aims to accelerate fintech innovation. The virtual lab hosts synthetic banking data and relevant APIs in partnership with financial institutions. This will make it easier for developers and banks to work together to rapidly develop, test and validate new APIs and solutions against synthetic data.

As the lab’s first partner, a bank, has already contributed synthetic data and will create a sandbox to collaborate with innovators to address specific business pain points.

The CEO of the bank stated that it welcomes new initiatives that will drive innovation in fintech; supporting HKSTP in the development of its Banking Virtual Lab by contributing synthetic banking data, with the aims of creating a cross-industry ecosystem on the data platform, deepening collaboration with fintech companies, and accelerating the speed of development and success rate of these collaborations.

The collective initiative will help drive the continued development of Hong Kong’s banking industry and generate more opportunities to work with fintech companies on the co-creation of customer-centric products that meet the evolving needs of our customers.

Fast-Tracking Corporate Innovation  

Another major initiative is the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) Accelerator under HKSTP’s Global Acceleration Academy (GAA), announced at the Asian Financial Forum on 19 January 2021. This will fast-track corporate innovation across the BFSI sectors and address the sectors’ critical pain points by developing solutions through co-creation.

The Accelerator will match financial corporates with HKSTP’s 1000-strong network of technology ventures to enhance operational efficiency, customer experience, wealth management, regulation and compliance.

The Accelerator is supported by industry leaders including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) via the HKMA-HKSTP Fin+Tech Collaboration Platform, Insurance Authority, InvestHK, Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) and the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB). It is carried out in collaboration with 17 BFSI corporates.

Fintech Innovation Hub

Another key development is the establishment of a new Fintech Innovation Hub (FIH) at the FinTech Centre. A collaboration between Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), HKMA and HKSTP, the FIH will serve as a neutral ground for collaboration between financial institutions, technology companies, corporations, universities and government bodies for idea exploration, proof of concept and prototype development, technology testing as well as education and demo purposes.

The Chief Operating Officer and acting Co-CEO at ASTRI stated that as Hong Kong’s largest applied science and technology research institute and having fintech as one of our focus areas of application, research and development, ASTRI is constantly finding ways to benefit the entire financial industry and help drive the sector’s growth into a new era.

The establishment of the FIH marks another milestone and the agency looks forward to an even closer collaboration with HKMA, HKSTP and other stakeholders to support and promote the continued growth of our thriving fintech ecosystem.

The Northern Territory Government has awarded a $64.4 million tender for the Client Management Systems Alignment program, known as the Care System, to improve the care and protection of children in the state.

The Care System will enable different and necessary government agencies such as Police, Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Health, Education and Attorney General to access the same information, create the one case file and share critical information to best manage each child’s specific case.

The region’s Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing said the new Care System will give frontline staff in child protection and youth justice the necessary tools to better protect vulnerable children.

The Minister stated, “We want to make sure all Northern Territory children have the best start in life. A total of 72% of Territory Families, Housing and Communities’ core business is recorded outside of our approved computer system which is more than 25 years old.”

A UK-based tech firm and local a Territory business IT company have been selected for the project, which will provide a modern digital tool to assist frontline workers in child protection, youth justice and service provision for the Northern Territory’s most vulnerable children. A local Territory digital company has been selected to undertake work on this project with a dedicated local team.

The Minister for Corporate and Digital Development said the IT overhaul is one of the biggest the NT has ever undertaken and will be supported by specialist IT practitioners from a range of local Territory digital businesses.

He noted that the IT firm has more than 25 years’ experience delivering information technology solutions and services in the Northern Territory, with a local team dedicated to this project.

The Care System will provide child protection and youth justice case management solution to equip the Northern Territory Government with a holistic view of the child and increase opportunities for early intervention.

The Care System will also enable frontline staff to access important information anytime and will improve the connection between non-government, private service providers, the community and the government to access and update information related to child wellbeing.

The project came about after the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory highlighted the limitations in current processes that support child protection and youth justice. In response, the Territory Government invested $64.4 million into the Care System to facilitate better information sharing and coordination.

The Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing also noted that the creation of the Care System and the delivery of the program is all about it being based on the child. The NT government wants to make sure they are keeping up-to-date information on vulnerable families, so they can assist quickly and proactively.

The program is scheduled for completion in late 2022 and will improve the way Territory Families, Housing and Communities approaches child protection and youth justice, through a child-centric approach to systems and service delivery.

According to another article, The Department of Corporate and Digital Development (DCDD) is leading the project, formally known as the client management system alignment (CMSA) program, on behalf of Territory Families.

DCDD (then the Department of Corporate and Information Services) went looking for a new system in 2018 in response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT. The Royal Commission identified systemic problems with the territory’s approach to child protection and youth justice, including limitations with several underpinning systems of record.

Systems of concern included the CCIS and the integrated offender management system (IOMS), neither of which ‘talked’ each other, as well as the police real-time online management system (PROMIS). The government said it expects the new Care system to improve “information sharing and coordination to ensure we are better protecting vulnerable children”.

An anticipated change in food consumption patterns during the post-pandemic recovery period is pushing the Indonesian government to try innovations in ramping up existing food and beverage production methods. 

The Indonesian government in a statement encouraged agencies and key figures in the food and beverage industry to prepare for an increase in public demand by developing more technologies. The announcement comes as this strategic sector is expected to recover and bolster growth in the coming months. 

Abdul Rochim, Director General of Agro-Industry of the Ministry of Industry, explained that the health crisis has made a huge dent in the economy and also stirred a substantial change in people’s consumption patterns. For one, fewer people are lining up to shop and shift towards getting their needs through online delivery services. He added, “meanwhile, people who are used to eating food in restaurants prefer to pack food or order food online.” 

Because of these changes in consumer behaviour, the food and beverage sector needs to be more proactive in utilising innovation to cater to consumer demands in a modern way. The adoption of innovative tools also allows consumers to pay more attention to health and safety protocols during the new normal. The Director General noted that this sector which is closest to society should be able to take advantage of the benefits of tech to provide ease and convenience to customers. 

Some of the proposed changes are not mainly in the delivery phase but are found also in the marketing, logistics and production systems of the industry. He mentioned that in marketing, digitalisation tools are key in reaching out to both producers and consumers. Hence, new digital tools must be implemented in this sector. 

The vision of the Ministry of Industry is in keeping with efforts set forth under the Industry 4.0 concept in online marketing. The logistics sector can also be able to reap the benefits of using modern systems. To explain, the Director General noted that, “marketing that was previously carried out conventionally has shifted to using online marketing innovations. Meanwhile, the logistics sector also needs to be introduced to contactless logistics or a system that reduces human interaction so that consumers feel safe.” 

In the production industry, the Ministry admitted that this industry needs new digital solutions, particularly in processed food technology and product diversification. Innovations in the production of frozen food and packaging methods to ensure item durability should receive an upgrade from tech. Food manufacturers also have a lot on their plate in ensuring that they improve finished products that are readily processed at home.  

To support manufacturers, the Ministry announced that it has teamed up with the Association of Indonesian Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs (GAPMMI), Under the partnership, the Ministry shall help in compiling a book called ‘Guidebook for the Adaptation of New Habits in the Food Industry’. The project is expected to help manufacturers and other players in the food industry as they embrace their digital transformation.  

These developments are all part of government efforts to boost economic growth on the back of significant contributions from the food sector. This is in line with directives laid out under the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap, where, In addition to the food and beverage sector, the government aims to foster economic growth by strengthening the electronics and manufacturing industries. 

The results of such efforts were seen in the third quarter of 2020 when the food industry was recorded to be the biggest contributor to Indonesia’s gross domestic product, locking in an increase of 7.02%. Food and beverage also had the highest export value in manufacturing, as it reached US$ 27.59 billion in the January-November period last year. 

To further ramp up food production techniques, the government has earlier said in a statement that the Agricultural Research and Development Agency is on the lookout for technological advances in agricultural methods to drive an increase in food production.

The pandemic has been seriously affected Vietnam’s economy in general and the tourism industry in particular. Data at the end of last year shows that COVID-19 has had a negative US$1 trillion to tourism worldwide and a reduction of 61% to Vietnam’s tourism revenues compared to 2019.

Clearly, traditional management and business methods cannot adequately cope, globally and in Vietnam as well. The pandemic has required the tourism industry to implement digital transformation solutions and establish a smart tourism data integration and sharing system. Various cities and provinces of Vietnam plan to leverage technology to boost their tourism sectors. This is in line with the governments overall emphasis on digital transformation across the board.

Vietnam’s northern province of Ha Giang is looking to promote the local tourism industry through digital transformation and smart services in partnership with the National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and a mobile carrier. Under the agreement, VNAT and the mobile carrier will assist Ha Giang to use the carrier’s Smart Travel system to ramp up promotion of tourism as well as to provide useful information to potential travellers.

Ha Giang authorities will provide relevant data about local destinations, scenic spots, historical sites, culture and food to be incorporated in the Smart Travel system. The provincial authorities will also facilitate connection with local organisations and businesses to develop tourism through digital transformation.

The platform features advanced technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, big data and e-commerce. The portal has been designed to meet the needs of tourists, businesses, service providers and regulators alike. The data collection and analytic tools will give tourism authorities an overview of their local tourism’s advantages and challenges, allowing them to formulate and introduce policies and provisions.

VNAT has also signed an agreement with Ha Giang to assist the province create and develop tourism products, promote the brand of Ha Giang tourism and develop the workforce for tourism. VNAT Director Nguyen Trung Khanh said the cooperation will open new opportunities to boost the tourism of Ha Giang and Vietnam at large in a more effective manner. He added that digital transformation and smart travel development are the inevitable processes, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life. Ha Giang Vice Chairman Tran Duc Quy was confident that the agreement would significantly drive the growth of the local tourism industry and harness its full potential.

Vietnam has been eager to boost its tourism sector after it was hit by the pandemic. In November 2020, Việt Nam International Travel Mart (VITM) finally took place after being postponed three times. Thousands joined the annual Việt Nam International Travel Mart, one of the tourism industry’s most anticipated annual events.

Vũ Thế Bình, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that while the event was smaller, the content is more profound and discusses how we overcome the consequences of the pandemic and also other kinds of crises. Bình stressed that the theme for the event was digital transformation for tourism development, “All of our economic sectors will gradually transform with digital technology. But tourism is one of the first economic sectors to have a chance to transform with digital technology.”

The platform featured over 300 stalls of tourism enterprises, airlines and tourism service providers from 47 cities and provinces throughout the country and six foreign countries and territories, namely Thailand, Peru, Japan, South Korea, Colombia and Taiwan. The exhibition had a separate zone for digital transformation exhibition, where companies could introduce new products at a hall for four days – the very first time the tourism sector got close to technology.

Recently, Vietnam’s tourism industry launched the online tourism mobile app “Du Lich Viet Nam An Toan” (Safe travel in Vietnam) that integrates electronic payment and the monitoring of public health in just one card. The app is aimed at more than 43 million smartphone users. This is a useful tool for travellers in recommending safe destinations and advertising destinations to tourists, as well as effectively serving the second domestic tourism stimulus programme. The app is also considered to be one of the practical digital transformation activities of state management agencies in the tourism industry.

Malaysia and Sweden have come together to introduce the Digital Health Innovation Challenge. Launched 15 January 2021, the Innovation Challenge invites start-ups registered in Malaysia to identify solutions in solving healthcare challenges, especially related to non-communicable diseases (NCD).

The initiative is a collaboration between Team Sweden, comprising of the Embassy of Sweden, Business Sweden and a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company; and Malaysian partners Sunway iLabs, Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The Innovation Challenge is aimed towards identifying solutions that can empower NCD patients and high-risk communities to proactively reduce the risk factors of these diseases by encouraging healthy living and increase accessibility, on top of introducing digital tools enabling self-care and monitoring.

Start-ups that are selected to participate will get access to incubation programmes, global innovation networks, mentorship and funding, as well as an opportunity to collaborate with the above partners to solve healthcare challenges in Malaysia.

The Swedish Trade Commissioner to Malaysia stated that the Digital Health Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity for start-ups to explore solutions from multiple angles and to work with partners to exchange knowledge and scale-up across borders.

Adding to this, the country president of the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company noted that empowering patients with innovative digital health care solutions and technologies is a major part of the firm’s focus. They believe that digital health is a means of making our health systems even more patient-centric.

For this reason, they engage in various partnerships to deliver next-generation health solutions. The Digital Health Innovation Challenge will certainly galvanise digital start-ups to develop new technologies and health care solutions that would meaningfully support our health system development and public health.

The Chief Innovation Officer of the Malaysian conglomerate company and its Innovation Labs director stated that it is important that the public and private sectors come together to solve societal problems.

“I believe that this initiative is a great example of how we can accelerate market-driven healthcare innovations from talented entrepreneurs by leveraging corporate testbeds and international networks,” he remarked.

The CEO of MaGIC added that collective participation and engagement from the government is needed – by its policy and mobilisation of resources; the private sector, which carries with it a wealth of expertise and scale to make a difference; and finally, the start-ups that are built to create impact and resolve these challenges through technology and innovation.

start-ups should take the opportunity to showcase their advantageous capabilities which are agile by design, and pivot during crucial times, she added.

For MDEC, healthtech is one of the key areas that the agency is looking to grow within its tech ecosystem. The CEO od MDEC stated that the challenge plays “a crucial role” in highlighting the capabilities of Malaysian healthtech start-ups.

“It also empowers them to create technological impact within the health industry that the pandemic is accelerating. By supporting programs like the Digital Health Innovation Challenge, MDEC will further ramp up the development and improvement of Malaysia’s healthtech ecosystem as part of the ongoing efforts to realise the vision of Malaysia 5.0 and establish Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN,” she concluded.

Applications for the Digital Health Innovation Challenge will be open from 15 January 2021 and will continue until 15 February 2021. Applicants must register with the Digital health Innovation Challenge Application Form and submit their proposal in accordance with the terms and conditions specified.

As banking becomes more increasingly online, and with the data touchpoints on the rise, AI and ML have become an integral part of a bank’s DNA. It is a natural outcome that the more the data touchpoints, and the wider the data exposure, the greater the chances of things going wrong. Understanding this vulnerability, banks and financial institutions are keen on deploying AI/ML to keep a check on fraud incidents.

To get a better insight into how banks are adopting and adapting new technology and what is the future looking like for them, OpenGov Asia had a conversation with Dr David Hardoon, Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence, Union Bank of Philippines.

David acknowledged that the rise in digital data points, as a result of increased online banking, has necessitated leveraging technologies like AI and ML to derive actionable insights. Additionally, more financial institutions see the benefits of adopting technology to keep fraud in check. The headway in security has encouraged them to scale it to other core functions like floor management, compliance, and regulation.

This is an almost-radical departure as historically there has been a reluctance in adopting technology among financial institutions due to unfamiliarity and the stern regulations around it. The pandemic has driven this paradigm shift, forcing organizations to think beyond their existing boundaries and comfort zones.

David noted that even the support office is catching up with the front office in terms of robustness, scalability, and capability to know when something is wrong. This is driven by the need to ensure a smooth and secure online experience for the customer.

On being asked about the notion that online malls and shopping sites are leading the way in customer experience and engagement over online banks and financial institutions, David agreed the banking industry is lagging but highlighted an important issue. The pandemic has driven people online but there is a fundamental lack of trust among customers engaging with such e-commerce sites.

“Trust is an equity financial institutions have, he opined. But it needs to be leveraged appropriately to build customer engagement online.”

Speaking about fraud and risk management in financial institutions in the post-COVID-19 era David shared that there has been a tremendous increase in the adoption of technology among banks. The strategy has been to use existing systems and adopt/adapt more sophisticated data techniques to achieve operational efficiency.

Banks are also focusing on taking the marketing mantra of hyper-personalization to compliance. David shared that data is the tool that equips banks with the ability and capacity of seeing and engaging individuals as individuals. Adding to this, he believes that such technologies can only be deployed in an institution when the top management believes in its power.

Elaborating on the future of AI/ML in fraud, David believes that the conversation is going to shift from digitizing the front office to bringing in the latest technology in the middle and back office in financial institutions. Apart from focusing on driving top-line growth, companies will need to get a better handle to know if anything wrong or irregular is happening.

David is confident that discussions around using AI/ML to manage fraud and risk will convert into action. The implementation might not be uniform across all institutions, but will it will move forward. Bigger institutions who have focused teams and resources will look to develop in-house fraud and risk management systems initially. A major reason behind it is the need to understand the complexities and difficulties associated with this process. Once they have familiarized themselves with it, they might partner with experts who champion the field.

All in all, David is an optimist who believes in the power of AI/ML, in risk and fraud management, and believes that conversations around it will get more operational.