Around 93.38% of electricity customers have shifted to cashless payment methods to pay bills so far, compared to last year’s 91.72%, according to the state-owned organisation, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN). Non-cash payments have been highly regarded by users as a safer and more convenient way to pay power bills as it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting physical contact. The EVN has been providing cashless payment services on its customer services mobile app, official websites, and the national public services portal. Additionally, the group has cooperated with banks and payment intermediary service providers to offer customers a wide range of options to make digital payments, for example, through banking accounts, e-wallets, and QR codes.
The company has also worked with its partners to give away promo codes and gifts in a bid to encourage more users to turn to non-cash payments. According to a news report, Vietnam’s cashless payment market will grow strongly in the next three to five years. In particular, mobile money and e-wallets will be key services to help expand the non-cash payments share in Vietnam. A recent report by the government showed out that cashless payments continue to become more popular, topping VND 36.28 quadrillion (US$1.6 billion) in the first nine months of 2021. During the period, 435.25 million transactions were made via the Internet, up 54.1% in volume and 30.7% in value. More than 1.19 billion others were conducted via mobile phone, surging 74.98 percent in volume and 93.69% in value.
Earlier this month, OpenGov Asia reported that the government approved a project on the development of cashless payments in Vietnam for the 2021-25 period. It intends to create positive changes in cashless payments in an economy of a high growth rate and make cashless payments accessible in rural, remote, and mountainous areas of the country. It aims to improve security, safety, and confidentiality in non-cash payment activities while improving the operational efficiency of the banking system and enhancing the management of state agencies to boost transparency. This will contribute to the fight again corruption, economic crimes, and aid the prevention of money laundering.
It targets that the value of non-cash payments will be 25 times higher than the GDP, the proportion of the payment method in e-commerce will account for 50% by 2025. Additionally, 80% of people aged 15 will have bank accounts, while the number of points accepting cashless payments will increase to over 450,000 by 2025. The average growth rate in terms of quantity and quality of cashless payment transactions is projected to reach 20-25% a year. Transactions that are made via mobile phones hit 50-80% per year, with transaction values expanding 80-100% annually; and via the Internet growing 35-40% a year. The rate of individuals and organisations using cashless payment methods via e-commerce channels is hoped to reach 40%.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, recently revealed details of an AU$15 million project to develop a national soil information system, aimed at improving the sustainable management of one of the nation’s most precious assets.
Supporting the National Soil Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project is a collaboration between the government, research organisations, industry, the private sector and the community.
Using innovative processes and technologies, ANSIS will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. This will help Australians to better understand their nation’s diverse range of soils and make better decisions about managing our important soil resources. Currently, soil data is collected using different methods, by different organisations, and at a range of depths in the soil. This makes it hard to access, compare and use data from diverse sources.
The Project Lead at CSIRO stated that improving access to the best soil data and information can help promote digital agriculture innovation and is key to sustainably managing Australia’s soils. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better placed to more sustainably manage the soil on which they rely.
Soil is vital to agricultural production and natural environments, as well as health and well-being. This information system will help everyone care for this important natural resource. Productive, healthy, and resilient soil means more economic, environmental, and social benefits to Australia. Monitoring soil also helps scientific understanding of how the natural world is changing.
This work will provide insight into biodiversity, water resources, landscapes and coastlines, fauna, climate, and geology. By harmonising Australia’s soil data, we can make it accessible across many fields of science and exploration. The project is being delivered under the Federal Government’s National Soil Strategy, which is about prioritising soil health, empowering soil innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023.
ANSIS will provide improved access to nationally consistent soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australian soil. ANSIS will provide:
- More soil data
- More data sets are available that in other soil systems
- Enables more certainty in products developed
- Opportunity to develop new products
- Improved access
- Multiple data sets are now discoverable and accessible
- National coverage
- Most up-to-date data available
- Efficient provision
- Organised and standardised data for immediate use
- Can feed into many users’ requirements
- Consistent delivery
- Substantial reduction in time to prepare information products
- Trusted location
- Certainty that data is from an authoritative source, verified and satisfies standards.
Indonesia has great ambitions for its digital economy and has deployed strategies to achieve its ambitions with a goal to reach USD315 billion by 2030. The 2021-2024 Indonesia Digital Roadmap is set on 4 pillars, namely digital infrastructure, digital government, digital economy and digital society.
As part of its strategy, the government is promoting four important digital skills to accelerate its digital economy. The government believes that the future demand for digital skills will be focused on four areas Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Cloud Computing, and Data Analytics (ABCD). The ABCD skills are projected to help the national economy hit its US$315 billion by 2030 target.
Therefore, the Indonesian government is encouraging young people to start businesses through a variety of free programs such as Beta School, 1,000 Startup Movement, Startup Studio, HUB.ID and IGDX.
“Aside from university disciplines, the ABCD is becoming increasingly important for everyone. I believe that all young people require ABCD,” stated Dedy Permadi, Expert Staff of the Minister of Communication and Informatics, in a discussion forum.
Mastering ABCD technical hard skills apart, Indonesian digital talents are also expected to be proficient in non-technical or soft skills known as the 4C’s, which are Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication.
The Director of SDPPI Kominfo, Ismail, expressed his hope that the young generation in Indonesia would capture the golden opportunity for digitalisation. Digitalisation will transform Indonesia from a consumer country to a prominent player in the new normal.
The government recognises the importance of good infrastructure support in boosting the digital economy. As a result, the government is working to ensure an equitable distribution of internet connection networks across Indonesia, particularly in frontier, remote, and underdeveloped (3T) areas.
According to Ismail, the development of ICT infrastructure must meet three criteria: broad coverage, the deployment of a fibre-optic cable network on the backbone, and affordability, which means that the price is reasonable for the community.
Private operators focus on developing infrastructure in high-demand urban areas and, as a result, the digital divide between cities and towns has grown wider. Consequently, the government is beginning to develop 3T telecommunications in rural, underserved areas.
“We cannot rely solely on private-sector investment. To speed up and accelerate digital transformation, the government must invest in infrastructure,” Ismail said emphatically.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Agency and Telecommunications and Information Accessibility (BAKTI) have also worked to improve and expand internet access for public services throughout Indonesia. BAKTI is working with telecommunications companies to build Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in remote areas of Indonesia.
“We hope to finish building BTS in all remote areas by 2023 and connect them to the 4G network,” Deddy stated.
Indonesia is a vast archipelagic country. So, relying solely on fibre optic cable networks will make it difficult to provide connectivity. As a result, the government is combining the fibre optic cable network constructed with the 150 Gbps SATRIA 1 satellite.
This multifunctional satellite can provide internet access to 150,000 public service locations in Indonesia, including educational institutions, local governments, defence and security administration, and health facilities. This satellite is scheduled to launch in 2023.
The government has begun construction of the first National Data Centre in the Delta Mas Region, GIIC, Cikarang District, Bekasi Regency, West Java Province, in connection with its digital strategy. It will then gradually expand data centres in Nongsa Digital Park in Batam, Riau Archipelago, the new National Capital City (IKN) in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara.
The creation of this government data centre is intended to promote efficiency, effectiveness, state data sovereignty, and national data consolidation as part of the One Data Indonesia initiative. “This (data centre) is critical because government data management is critical to developing society’s transformation into a digital society,” Deddy said.
The National Single Window System (NSWS) currently accepts applications for 248 government-to-business (G3B) clearances from 26 central ministries and departments, in addition to state-level clearances in 16 states and union territories.
The portal is rapidly gaining traction among the investor community and as of date has over 370,000 unique visitors. Since its launch last year, more than 44,000 approvals have been facilitated on the portal and over 28,000 approvals are currently under process. Over time, the portal will onboard more approvals and licenses, based on user and industry feedback. According to a press release, the government is committed to reforming the system, making it a more conducive environment for business and investment.
In 2021, NSWS was soft-launched to all stakeholders and the public by the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal. NSWS was created by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), following the government’s decision to create an Investment Clearance Cell (ICC). NSWS is a single platform that allows investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses to identify, apply for, track, and obtain approvals and clearances.
The system aims to reduce duplicities in information submission and compliance burden and promote sector-specific reforms and schemes. It reduces the gestation period of projects and strives to promote the ease of starting and doing business.
The release informed that the Know Your Approvals (KYA) service is live on NSWS with 544 approvals across 32 central ministries and departments and 2,895 approvals across 30 states and union territories. A total of 3,439 approvals are listed. A total of 132,510 investors have used the KYA module to find out the type of approvals they need for their businesses. 26 ministries and departments were onboarded with 248 approvals live. The 16 states and union territories onboarded on the platform are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The teams are working to integrate five more states by 15 December, namely Haryana, Andaman Nicobar, Tripura, Jharkhand, and Arunachal Pradesh. To date, a total of 71,000 approvals have been applied on the portal. The system has recorded visitors from 157 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. The release said that the remaining eight ministries and departments will be onboarded by the end of the year.
A review of the progress and status of NSWS is set to happen on 5 December with ministries, states, union territories, and industry representatives. In this regard, preparatory meetings have been held to discuss the integration status of various regions and departments. These meetings have witnessed active participation from the stakeholders, the release noted. DPIIT and Invest India have been proactively holding regular reviews with the ministries, states, and industry associations in the process of setting up the NSWS to ensure an inclusive approach to evolving the national portal. Over 150 participants from states and ministries have participated in the review meetings.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) affirmed its strategic co-incubation partnership with a Canada-focused venture capital firm to identify promising international start-ups seeking to expand their innovation journey to Hong Kong, into the GBA and beyond.
With a proven track record in life science start-ups, the VC firm will work with HKSTP to build an inbound stream of early and mid-stage ventures. The co-incubation programme aims to bring several strong-performing ventures to Hong Kong with a focus on biotech, but also on other deep-tech areas such as ESG, advanced materials, edutech and AI.
To date, as Hong Kong’s largest technological ecosystem, HKSTP has helped accelerate growth for hundreds of outstanding start-ups, raising over HK$80.2 billion in total funding in the past five years. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the total valuation of HKSTP’s acceleration programme start-ups grew over 250% while total investment funds raised have also doubled.
The partnership with the VC firm is the most recent of HKSTP’s series of strategic co-incubation programmes with global market leaders in the industry, investment, R&D and academia, which further elevate Hong Kong’s innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem strength as a global springboard to success.
Riding on Hong Kong’s thriving biotech market and the city’s status as the world’s second-largest biotech fundraising hub, the co-incubation partnership also recognises HKSTP’s impact and success in building a vibrant biotech ecosystem in Hong Kong.
The Head of Incubation and Acceleration Programmes at HKSTP stated that the co-incubation partnership with an international player like the partnering firm validates Hong Kong’s unique and growing status as a global I&T hub helping international start-ups go beyond borders in their global growth journey.
She noted that with a pipeline of seed stage and series A start-up’s already in place, this proves the strength of the HKSTP innovation ecosystem and confirms that Hong Kong is open again for global business and an ideal launchpad for high-growth tech ventures seeking GBA, regional and global expansion.
The Managing Partner of the VC firm stated that the signing of this co-incubation agreement will allow the two parties to incubate and introduce promising global start-ups to scale their businesses in Asia. The firm will continue to leverage its unique cross-pacific networks and investment niches in transformative life science technologies to enrich Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem with more ground-breaking technologies from North American start-ups.
The programme features co-incubation activities ranging from business development, consulting and training to mentoring sessions for qualified overseas start-ups. Participating entrepreneurs will also create proofs-of-concept and pilot initiatives.
The start-ups will tap into the investment and international business network reach of the firm while also formally joining the HKSTP innovation ecosystem to access product validation, commercialisation and go-to-market expertise from HKSTP and its wider network of partners.
Specialising in investing globally in science and technology-based start-ups, the VC firm has been active in Hong Kong and Asia with its specific focus on nurturing start-ups that aspire to expand to China and Asia. In 2019 it facilitated eight Canadian start-ups from prestigious start-up programmes to come to Hong Kong to gain deeper insights into strategic landing tactics and expansion into the Asian markets. This latest partnership with HKSTP has forged a new level of commitment to the Hong Kong I&T ecosystem.
Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has recently updated its platform known as Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service (CTO-as-a-Service). The platform enables SMEs to self-assess their digital readiness and needs at any time and from any location, as well as access market-proven and cost-effective digital solutions and engage digital consultants for in-depth advisory and project management services.
This is for any business entity that wants to know how to start going digital, understand what type of solutions to adopt for its specific business challenge, or choose the solution that best meets its needs.
An enterprise can benefit from CTO-as-a-Service through:
- Conduct a self-evaluation of its digital readiness and pinpoint its gaps and needs in terms of digitalisation;
- Study other Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that have carried out digitalisation projects successfully;
- Receive digital solution suggestions based on the business’s needs and profile; and
- Evaluate the features and costs of various digital solutions.
There are more than 450 subsidised digital solutions available for selection, including those that address industry-specific or general business needs, as well as those that serve to streamline operations, increase business sales revenue, or ensure business resiliency.
The business can also work with digital consultants from the designated operators through CTO-as-a-Service, for digital advisory to assist:
- Seek a deeper comprehension of its business priorities and needs;
- Create training plans and digital solutions specifically for its businesses;
- Include fundamental data usage, protection, and cybersecurity risks in the digitalisation process.
The business may also ask digital consultants to assist with project managing the rollout of its digitalisation initiatives.
Eligible businesses can use digital advisory and project management services for free for the first time. Should the businesses want to keep using digital consultants, future usage or service enhancement will be based on commercial agreements.
Any company that satisfies the requirements below is qualified to use free project management and digital advisory services for the first time:
- Licensed and active in Singapore;
- A minimum of 30 per cent local shareholding;
- Enterprise’s group employment size is no more than 200 employees, or the group’s annual sales turnover is no more than S$100 million;
- Has never previously used CTO-as-a-Service digital consultants.
Meanwhile, SMEs are the backbone of Singapore’s economy. They employ two-thirds of the country’s workers and contribute almost half of Singapore’s GDP. Since digital technology is changing every part of Singapore’s economy, SMEs need to take advantage of digital technologies to grow and do well.
The SMEs Go Digital programme, which was started by the IMDA in April 2017, is meant to make going digital easy for SMEs. More than 80,000 SMEs have used the programme’s digital solutions.
Enterprises can also use advanced and integrated solutions to improve their capabilities, strengthen business continuity measures, and build longer-term resilience. Solutions that are supported by government agencies solve common problems at the enterprise level on a large scale, help enterprises adopt new technologies, and make it easier for enterprises to do business within or across sectors.
IMDA works with sector-led agencies and industry players to find advanced and integrated digital solutions that can be supported and are relevant to their sectors. Companies that want to use these solutions can check the IMDA website to find out when they can apply for each one.
Costs for hardware, software, infrastructure, connectivity, cybersecurity, integrations, development, improvement, and project management can be covered by funding support. With this, the agency has kept helping businesses, and the list of solutions that are supported will grow, with an emphasis on AI-enabled and cloud-based solutions.
Around 30,000 rural homes and communities will soon have access to faster and improved connectivity with an expansion of the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme. 21 new contracts have been signed by Crown Infrastructure partners to accelerate upgrades to towers and broadband connections in areas with poor coverage.
The announcement was made by the Minister for Rural Communities, Damien O’Connor, and the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark. This round of the Rural Capacity Upgrade will see many existing towers upgraded and new connections established in rural areas experiencing poor performance. Areas that will benefit from these improvements include, but are not limited to, settlements in the Far North, Gisborne, the Manawatu-Whanganui region, Taranaki, Southland, and Waikato.
The project is expected to significantly boost the economic productivity of homes and businesses with a slow, unreliable, or unusable connection, Clark noted. The government is committed to improving rural connectivity and is on track to see 99.8% of New Zealanders receive access to improved broadband because of the Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout, Rural Broadband Initiative, the Marae Digital Connectivity programme, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund by the end of 2023, he explained.
The investment in rural connectivity will work alongside Land Information NZ’s rollout of the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) service. As OpenGov Asia had reported earlier, SouthPAN is the Southern Hemisphere’s first satellite navigation augmentation service. It will improve the availability and accuracy of positioning, taking it from 5-10 metres to as little as 10 centimetres across the country.
This will boost rural productivity through precision agriculture and horticulture, fenceless farming, and improve the safety of search and rescue in the backcountry. The government, along with private sector contributions, has invested more than $2.5 billion into improving digital connectivity to date.
The government has also released “Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa”, which sets out the high-level connectivity vision for New Zealand over the next decade. This includes the goal that all New Zealanders have access to high-speed connectivity networks, and that the country is in the top 20% of nations with respect to international connectivity measures.
Last month, the government launched the Remote Users Scheme to provide broadband and connect New Zealand’s most remote communities. Clark had announced the scheme, noting that it would equip as many remote households as possible with the connectivity infrastructure needed to access broadband services. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the Remote Users Scheme will help connect people to online health services and educational tools. Through Budget 2022, $15 million was allocated towards funding the scheme, as part of the broader $60 million rural connectivity package announced earlier in the year.
The Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP), which was established by the government, will administer the Remote Users Scheme and is calling for applications from potentially eligible households and communities. A request for proposal from Internet service providers will follow. It is expected that new broadband connectivity infrastructure for the eligible areas and households can begin being built in mid-2023.
Dr Andrew Lensen from the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Dr Marcin Betkier from the Law School are eager to ensure AI has a significant role in the justice system. The researchers based in New Zealand built an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that predicts the length of court sentences.
But the question that may arise is whether the AI algorithm is fair enough to hand down the sentences. In the current justice system, society trusts judges to hand down fair sentences to the accused based on their knowledge and experience.
But how about AI? Can it judge better because it can eliminate the potential for bias and discrimination? And can AI substitute the judge’s knowledge and experience with its ability to analyse and predict large amounts of data?
Dr Andrew is optimistic that AI can help better sentencing performance in the court. The confidence comes from the use of AI to predict some criminal behaviour, such as financial fraud. Even though he has not tested the algorithm model in the courtroom to deliver sentences, he is confident in his idea that AI can have a role in the sentencing process.
Dr Andrew says when judges handle a case in the court, they have some “inconsistency” when passing a sentence for a convicted criminal. The inconsistency comes from a judge’s consideration of individual circumstances, societal norms and the sense of justice.
The moral decision and the sense of humanity are based on their experience and even sometimes change the law. Each judge uses their prudence in deciding the outcome of a case. Another “undesirable inconsistency” occurs as bias or even extraneous factors like hunger. Research in Israeli courts has shown that the percentage of favourable decisions drops to nearly zero before lunch.
Judges must ensure similar offences should receive similar penalties in different courts with different judges. Usually, to enhance sentence consistency, the justice system has prepared guidelines as a reference. This inconsistency area is the pain point where AI can help.
How AI Helps Judges
Most modern AI is machine learning, a machine learning algorithm that could learn the patterns in a database to predict patterns and outcomes. Therefore, AI can provide better sentence suggestions after the computer algorithm learns the patterns within a set of data.
Dr Andrew’s machine learning algorithm trained with 302 New Zealand assault cases. The sentences in those cases are between 0 and 14.5 years of imprisonment. The model quantifies sentences based on certain phrases and terms when calculating the sentence. Then the algorithm built a model that can predict the length of a sentence for a new case and explain why it made certain predictions.
The relatively simple model worked quite well within the average error of the model in under 12 months. The model associates the words or phrases such as “sexual”, “young person”, “taxi” and “firearm” with longer sentences. While shorter sentences were given to cases with words like “professional”, “career”, “fire” and “Facebook”.
Beyond Decision Making
In the future, AI could be used as an evaluation tool for judges. They could understand better their sentencing decisions and perhaps remove extraneous factors. The models also have the potential to be used by lawyers, providers of legal technology and researchers, to analyse the sentencing and justice system. Moreover, AI also can be used for controversial sentences and help create some transparency around controversial decisions.
Of course, the use of AI in the justice system may still be controversial. Most people are still keen that the final assessments and decisions on justice and punishment should be made by human experts. But maybe it is the right time need to give an opportunity to an “algorithm” or “AI” in the judicial system for the common good.
New Zealand is not the only country that explores the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in courtrooms. Several other countries like China and Malaysia have done similar things. In China, robot judges can decide on a small case. While in Malaysia, some courts have used AI to recommend sentences for offences such as drug possession.