Asia’s technology and internet firms are competing against the region’s traditional banks for consumer finances, hoping to increase competition and drive innovation in their markets, while non-banking companies are keen to enter the finance sector by leveraging their technology and user databases.
There is huge momentum in Asia moving towards digital banks, and some monetary authorities have already issued digital banking licences like Hong Kong and Taiwan. They issued digital banking licences to companies in the first half of 2019. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is at the stage where they are now reviewing applications for digital banking licences and Malaysia is at the beginning of their digital banking transformation journey and is at policy-making stage.
Hong Kong – embracing new era of banking
In March 2019 the Monetary Authority in Hong Kong granted banking licences under the Banking Ordinance to Livi VB Limited, SC Digital Solutions Limited and ZhongAn Virtual Finance Limited, Welab Digital Limited, Ant SME, PingAn OneConnect, Infinium and Insight Fintech for them to operate in the form of a virtual bank.
Mr Norman T.L. Chan, Chief Executive of the HKMA, said in a release last year that “The introduction of virtual banks in Hong Kong is a key pillar supporting Hong Kong’s entry into the Smart Banking Era. It is a major milestone in reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a premier international financial centre. I believe that virtual banks will not only help drive FinTech and innovation, but also bring about brand new customer experiences and further promote financial inclusion in Hong Kong.”
“As virtual banks will have no physical branches, they will rely on the internet for customer acquisition and for the delivery of banking services. I believe that virtual banks will have to offer innovative and customer-centric services in order to attract customers. Moreover, in targeting the retail public and SMEs as their main client base, virtual banks should help promote financial inclusion in Hong Kong.”
In total Hong Kong has issued 8 digital banking licences so far.
Taiwan – extra licence issued due to diverse applications
Taiwan issued its first virtual banking licenses to three consortiums led by Taiwan and Japanese investors in July 2019. The island’s Financial Supervisory Commission announced the digital banking licenses were granted to LINE Financial Taiwan, led by Japanese app operator LINE Group and including Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered, and to Next Commercial Bank, led by Taiwan telecom operator Chunghwa Telecom. Another license was granted to Rakuten International Commercial Bank, which was operated by Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten Inc and Taiwan’s IBF Financial Holdings.
The Taiwanese commission said while it had initially planned to give out two new licenses, because the three companies all had different business models and target customers, it had decided to give each of them a licence. They have no further plans to issue further licences.
Philippines – virtual banks launched in 2019
The Philippines officially announced two virtual banking players with the launch of Malaysian CIMB Bank and Dutch lender ING in 2019.
Singapore – reviewing licence applications
The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced yesterday (7 January 2020) as reported by OpenGov that it has received 21 applications for digital bank licences as at the close of application on 31 December 2019. This comprises 7 applications for the digital full bank (DFB) licences, and 14 applications for the digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences.
These new digital banks are in addition to any qualifying subsidiaries that Singapore bank groups may already establish under MAS’ existing regulatory framework for the purposes of operating new business models, including partnerships with non-bank players to conduct digital banking.
Who has submitted their digital banking licence application in Singapore?
Grab and Singtel have confirmed that they applied for a full digital bank licence. Alibaba Group’s fintech arm Ant Financial have also confirmed that they have applied for a wholesale digital bank license. Internet group Sea, formerly known as Garena, is the first applicant to go solo in its bid for a digital full bank licence in Singapore.
Razer is leading a consortium consisting of Sheng Siong Holdings, FWD, LinkSure Global, Insignia Venture Partners and Carro in a bid for a full digital bank license. iFast Corporation confirmed that they have also applied a digital banking license with two Chinese partners namely — Yillion Group and Hande Group.
The BEYOND consortium announced on Sunday their bid for a full digital banking license in Singapore which consists of V3 Group, EZ-Link, Far East Organisation, Singapore Business Federation, Sumitomo Insurance Co Ltd and Temasek’s subsidiary Heliconia Capital Management.
Supply chain finance company Sheng Ye Capital, financial conglomerate Phillip Capital and AI-focused fintech firm Advance AI’s announced that they are also bidding for a wholesale digital banking license in Singapore. AMTD led consortium consisting of Xiaomi, SP Group and Funding Societies announced that they too are bidding for a digital wholesale banking license.
MAS will announce the successful applicants in June 2020. Successful applicants are expected to commence business by mid-2021.
Malaysia – preparing licence application policy
BNM will only open the application process for digital banks after it releases a finalized Policy Document within the first half of 2020.
Bank Negara Malaysia issued an Exposure Draft on Licensing Framework for Digital Banks on the 27 December 2019. This framework forms part of a series of measures adopted by the Bank to enable innovative application of technology in the financial sector. Up to five licences will be issued to qualified applicants to establish digital banks to conduct either conventional or Islamic banking business in Malaysia.
The Exposure Draft outlines the proposed framework for the licensing of digital banks to offer banking products and services to address market gaps in the underserved and unserved segments.
As reported by OpenGov in December last year, the Bank said in a statement that such digital banks are expected to offer meaningful access to and promote responsible usage of suitable and affordable financial solutions to financial consumers
The Bank will assess all feedback received and aims to finalise the Policy Document by the first half of 2020. Applications for licence will be open upon issuance of the Policy Document.
It is thought that the rollout of Digital banks will lead to greater operational efficiency and make banking more customer-centric. Digital banks will be able to offer banking products and services to address market gaps in the underserved and unserved segments. 2020 is set to mark the beginning of a new era of banking in Asia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation across the globe, not just in commerce, education and work. Health and safety considerations, too, have paved the way for the rapid adoption of technology. To cater to these urgent requirements, there is a pressing need for governments and businesses to adapt and digitalise at an unprecedented speed.
This urgency is particularly apparent in the healthcare sector where medical and frontline workers are experiencing fatigue due to the unprecedented influx of patients and the accompanying administrative workload.
This is where Intelligent Automation comes to the fore to take over routine, repetitive and complex tasks far more efficiently, freeing up human resources for other critical tasks.
Understanding the relevance and experience of this issue, senior executives from the healthcare sector in Singapore engaged in an in-depth discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 14 January 2021. The discussion revolved around the topic: Reinvigorating the Healthcare Industry by Harnessing the Power of Intelligent Automation.
Making automation processes a priority in the new normal
The discussion began with a bird’s eye view of the current situation in the healthcare sectors of across the globe and the role of technology to address challenges in this area.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, elaborated further on the concept of employee fatigue. He said that the foremost question to be answered by organisations to address this issue is how to scale up processes and transactions which have gone through the ceiling.
He acknowledged that the adoption of automation processes in the pre-pandemic era was considered an extravagance within the business frameworks, this is not the case today in the new normal. It is now a necessity to invest in intelligent automation so that work hours can be maximised. The ultimate issue then to be resolved is not whether to shift to automated processes, but how organisations can improve on these tools once they are set in place. This, Mohit added, is how businesses and government agencies can upscale the entire workforce.
A foundation point raised by Mohit was that technology is now embedded in society and it cannot function as efficiently without innovation. Organisations must focus on ushering a completely seamless delivery of services through technology, particularly in the healthcare sector where operations cannot slow down.
He stressed the fact that successful scale programmes for intelligent automation require executive ownership and direction. It is critical to have leaders to direct innovation from the top or otherwise, it is never going to happen.
Mohit concluded by urging delegates to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to embark on a journey towards intelligent automation rather than trying to do everything in-house.
Reshaping operations in healthcare through AI, RPA
As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, boosting the healthcare industry through innovative processes is key.
This was the focal point of the discussion led by Dr Zoran Bolevich, Chief Executive and Chief Information Officer at eHealth New South Wales, NSW Health, during the virtual session. For him, the vision of organisations across the world must be to foster a sustainable healthcare system that is digitally enabled.
Dr Zoran confirmed that in countries like Australia, digital advancement is a prerequisite for agencies, especially those in healthcare. Fo his organisation, he cited statistics that show over 12 million hospital appointments were booked digitally and approximately 2.25 million invoice transactions have been processed through digital means.
He was of the firm belief that health IT can be utilised to solve issues in the healthcare sectors more quickly. The challenge then is how to build on tech agility to continue seamless delivery of health services. He added that a ‘future health strategy’ must provide value-based healthcare, elevate the human experience and empower patients or consumers. This, Dr Zoran said, can be achieved by investing in AI and automation.
To further explain, Dr Zoran said that at an initial stage, organisations must automate workflows in shared service centres and use data and algorithms derived from these systems to boost operations. Later, data gathered can be further harnessed to ramp up supply chain management procedures like stock control and automatic re-ordering of supplies. The automation process then becomes a procurement system that can guide staff in a smarter way for the procurement of medical supplies.
Dr Zoran also agreed that AI should further be used to improve processes in updating medication content and providing a basis for clinical decision-making.
Beating the pandemic panic through automation
Anna Twomey, Senior Solution Advisor, Americas Public and Private Healthcare SME, added interesting insights to the discussion at hand.
She mentioned that despite the onset of what she referred to as a pandemic-panic among agencies in the healthcare industry, digital technology could help alleviate these worries.
Anna described Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a digital partner that gets smarter as more data and insights from the healthcare sector, including visualisation and imagery and e-learning information, are stored. Through RPAs, transformation in healthcare can be further amplified as these streamline transactions in scheduling appointments, approving request referrals, updating patients’ charts, and reviewing medical reports.
As the healthcare sector continues to navigate through tough times during the pandemic, having digital partners like RPAs can help medical practitioners better predict health outcomes and bridge the gap between specific populations of patients within the sector.
Once patient data is recorded, healthcare can look at these analyses to predict trends in certain segments with particular issues or co-morbidities like diabetes, heart conditions and other diseases.
In her experience, some of the challenges which shore up costs decrease patient satisfaction. The solution was to put up an end-to-end AI system that can look up viable solutions to these challenges, from managing patient ratings down to small facets of operations like serving food in hospitals.
Through AI, physicians and healthcare workers are better able to address patient conditions and needed treatments.
After the thought-provoking presentations by the speakers, delegates participated in an insight-sharing activity.
When asked what the primary objective of their digital strategy is, half of the delegates said that the goal is to enhance patient experience and journey while for the others the objective is to improve overall health quality.
According to one delegate from the National University Health System (NUHS), innovation captures many of these objectives. The positive news is that many businesses are building the necessary infrastructure to boost their digital transformation journey.
An interesting question during the session got delegates in deep thought. If their company has an unlimited budget, the area in which 57% of participants said they would invest in is the integration of disparate systems.
A delegate from IHH Healthcare was firm that improving back-end support services is equally important while applying digital initiatives. However, he added that there are still challenges that have to be addressed like scaling programmes. Another participant from the health sector said that if there are challenges in the budget, the solution is to bridge the gap in operations through RPAs.
A third (33%) of participants said that they are inclined to use intelligent automation in their integrated care departments, while the same percentage of attendees cited that they are adopting AI to drive patient experience.
A NUHS executive thought that integrated care is fundamental and that most organisations take the leap when they are presented with the opportunity to intensify integrated care technology. However, she was quick to add that one of the bottlenecks in intelligent automation is the notion that it only caters to back-end processes. In the long term, AI will increasingly be used in other areas of operations.
Her colleague from the NUHS agreed, stating that the whole purpose of adopting AI is to support patients’ journey so integrated care must be at the core of every organisation’s digital blueprint.
Anna summed up the online discussion by encouraging more agencies to capitalise on the strengths of intelligent automation processes in a bid to ramp up operational blueprints in healthcare. This, she said, can be done by collaborating with experts in the field of Intelligent Automation.
She invited the delegates to engage with partners who could guide them and be on the journey with them.
Smart Nation Initiative Minister in charge, Vivian Balakrishnan announced that the trace together program will be stood down and all the data collected under the program would be deleted after the pandemic ends to maintains people’s privacy and government’s transparency. He reiterated that the sole purpose of the program was for contact tracing and to break the chains of COVID – 19 transmission. He added that the Ministry of Health might want to retain the epidemiological data for research purposes, but it will all be anonymised.
The government has also issued the procedure that will be in place to request deletion of data from the Trace Together app and tokens. When signing up for TraceTogether, a random user ID (a string of numbers and letters) is generated and linked to the user’s contact number and identification details, such as his name and NRIC number. These details are stored in a secure server, according to the TraceTogether website.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) uses the identification details to contact the right person when necessary. When the app or token users are near one another, their user IDs are exchanged in an encrypted and randomised form and can be decrypted only by MOH. The encrypted Bluetooth data exchanged is stored in the app or token, and does not contain personal, identifiable information. Bluetooth data older than 25 days is also erased automatically. Only when a user tests positive for Covid-19 will MOH request that he upload the Bluetooth data to the government’s servers for tracing close contacts.
The app also collects anonymised information about a user’s phone and app, such as the phone model and app version, to help the government improve the app and provide a better user experience. This data does not have personal, identifiable information. No global positioning system location data is collected. The Android version of the app needs “location permission” from the user because Android requires apps requesting Bluetooth access to also get permission to access the user’s location information.
Users can also request for their identification data to be deleted from the government’s server unless they are confirmed Covid-19 cases and their proximity data – or information about people near them – has already been uploaded to the government’s server.
For a user of the TraceTogether app, he can make the deletion request by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the mobile number he registered in the app.
For a user of the TraceTogether token, he can return the physical token to the government by first e-mailing email@example.com with the last four characters of his NRIC, FIN or passport number. The government will then let him know how to return the token.
When the request is received and can be made, the government will delete the user’s contact or mobile number, identification details and random user ID from its server. Once the deletion is completed, the data that the user’s device has exchanged with other users’ devices becomes meaningless because that data is no longer linked to the user.
When the nation fully recovers from the pandemic and there is no need to track and trace citizens to avoid the risk of infection, they will be prompted to disable the app or return or throw the token away.
The new strain of the COVID-19 virus was first discovered in South East Asia when a 45-person cluster got infected in Malaysia from a traveller who returned from India and breached his 14-day quarantine. The Philippines detected the strain among random COVID-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region. Since then, the world has been struggling to cope with the mutation that seems to be far more infectious.
The mutation called D614G makes a small but effective change in the virus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to enter the human cell. “The mutation is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that that will happen,” Philippines’ Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.
The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the US but the World Health Organization says there is no evidence the strain leads to more severe disease.
There’s no evidence from the epidemiology that the mutation is considerably more infectious than other strains, said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s more commonly identified now than it was in the past, which suggests that it might have some kind of competitive advantage over other strains of Covid-19.”
Managing the pandemic at a national and global level is extremely difficult at it is being done in an environment cynicism of public health institutions. Data breaches of hospitals, health facilities and similar databases have been a fairly regular occurrence.
National responses to outbreaks vary greatly from country to country and there have been conflicting messages between leaders, health agencies and experts. These have fostered increased concern and confusion in the wider population. As Southeast Asian countries take various steps to prevent a resurgence while reopening limited travel, they struggle with people breaching quarantine rules after returning from overseas as well as false-negative test results at borders.
The delays in rolling out available vaccines and the discovery of new strains have forced a number to countries to go into lockdowns again and enforce stricter social distancing norms and restrictions.
In an increasingly tech-dependent and tech-driven world, it is pertinent that the healthcare sector explores new technologies to provide information, options and advice. Citizens need safe and secure solutions that can help them track, monitor and manage risk from the virus and also help them go out for work and fulfil essential tasks of daily life.
Novel technologies and platforms, of course, have been launched to help inform citizens on testing, care and movement. The most well-known of these would be contact tracing and symptom-reporting apps, some of which are increasingly being deployed by local and national public health agencies.
Liberty and Passage is one such solution for this persisting problem. Developed by Access Anywhere, the total outbreak management system combines several cutting edge technologies on one platform that can be used across various sectors including airports, cruise lines, immigration and tourism boards. It is a useful tool for all industries to restart their business.
Using AI and ML, Liberty & Passage has been designed to help provide relevant timely information and build the confidence required to restart free movement between countries and continents, giving travellers when crossing borders and authority’s confidence when processing foreign visitors at customs.
With these critical features, Liberty & Passage is an outbreak management solution for individuals, organisations, and the entire travel industry.
The platform is designed for the entire population with Liberty Open designed to manage personal risk, Liberty Corporate for organisations to ensure a safe return to work and Liberty Passage for travel and reopening of borders. Everyone gains from the vast insights the system provides to be able to go about their normal lives while keeping as safe as possible against this virulent threat.
By joining the three pillars together, ‘the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts’ giving the general public, employees and travellers freedom to move with confidence and a more intelligent understanding of their risk exposure using cutting edge technology.
Tech innovation is helping to manage the pandemic and better equip countries when dealing with the current public health emergency and for future public health emergencies. Outbreak management systems will be the key in building confidence, mitigating risk and enhancing safety in everyday life.
For more information on how the Liberty Solution works – please visit www.libertyandpassage.com
Singapore government is taking steps towards expanding the commercial use of drones to manage air traffic in future skies. In the first of such trials which are scheduled for March this year, multiple drones will take to the skies near Marina South Pier to test the effectiveness of an unmanned air traffic management system. If the trial is successful, it could be used to safely and efficiently manage drone traffic at scale.
The drones are built-in with a technology that makes sure that it does not collide with other drones using an automated system. This system can deconflict and monitor multiple drones flying in Singapore’s limited air space.
Sanjay Suresh, Head, Business Development, Nova Sytems Asia shared that first, the system lays out the flight plan for the drone after checking the flight schedule and path of other drones. The system also can alert the done through multiple channels in case there is a change in other drone’s direction or flight time.
The team at Nova Sytems has run numerous tests with more than 500 drones at the same time in a virtual setting. The live test that is scheduled for the second week March is the final milestone before the project is launched. Up to 6 drones will fly above the waters in the Maritime Drone Estate near the Marina South Pier. This minimises the risk to people and property while simulating real-time marine use cases.
“We want to fully stress test the system to make sure that a package needs to be delivered from the shore to a ship is fully aware that there are other drones performing rescue operations and doing vessel checks. We want to do this as we see it as a very possible future scenario” says Ryan Lee, Managing Director, Nova Systems Asia.
Data like the ship positions and scheduled movements will be included to help drones avoid them during the trial. The operators can also add weather conditions and flight patterns of migratory birds in future so that the drones can respond to these situations
The trial is also pivotal for the authorities as it will help them set in place the regulations with drone use likely to be ubiquitous in the near future. Ryan shares that the days are not far when people might have their own drones fetching them meals and goods from the market. Therefore, it is important to set regulations in place on time.
In trying to understand an unmanned traffic management system and the need to test it we found out that aircraft are guided safely by air traffic controllers communicating with pilots via radio, a system known as air traffic management (ATM). This direct, point-to-point, line-of-sight communication between an operator and an aircraft is the industry’s standard mode of operation. But estimates show that the growth of commercial air traffic is will ultimately exceed the capacity of a human-centred system—and this is just for human-piloted flights.
As unmanned and self-piloted operations continue to multiply, ATM systems will need to shift to a more scalable model: a digital system that can monitor and manage increased activity. This system is called Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), or a networked collection of services that communicate together based on common rules. Rather than relying on centralised control, UTM frameworks around the world will use the principle of distributed authority, which opens up the system to more service providers who can adapt as the market evolves and needs change.
In practice, UTM means aircraft will no longer have to speak to a single entity, such as an assigned air traffic controller. Instead, it will be able to communicate freely with multiple service suppliers. These suppliers will be held to relevant safety, security and performance standards by authorities, and will be able to coordinate with the rest of the network to make efficient decisions based on specific flight objectives. The transition will be gradual, but one that is important for the global aviation system’s future viability.
A team of physicists, engineers and chemists from across local institutions, led by Chair Professor Wang YAO of Research Division for Physics & Astronomy under Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), working on the research of fundamentals and emerging technologies of two-dimensional (2D) materials, has recently been awarded funding of over HK$80 million from the Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme 2020/21 (Ninth Round) under the University Grants Committee (UGC).
This will facilitate the exploration of fundamental physics in the new realm of two-dimensional atomic crystals and their van der Waals heterostructures with the abundant quantum degrees of freedom (e.g., spin, valley); and to explore quantum engineering of materials and devices in the unprecedented atomically thin 2D geometries, to revolutionise electronics, optoelectronics and photonics.
The team of leading experts of 2D materials in Hong Kong were assembled to capitalise on this great opportunity. This AoE project is an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary one covering physics, applied physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, comprising 17 scientists from HKU, City University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Professor Yao stated that the team is grateful to UGC for the recognition of their past achievements through the award of this funding, and most importantly for this opportunity to work together as a team to achieve something bigger in this exciting area.
Dean of Science Professor Matthew EVANS extended his congratulations to the Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigators of this inter-institutional research project. He said, “I am most delighted to see the concerted efforts of our top-notch physicists and their collaborators in diverse disciplines on developing fundamental research on 2D materials, outracing other cutting-edge research and being recognised through the award of funding in this vigorous exercise.”
The development of 2D materials and beyond
The rapid development of information technology has been based on the continuous scaling down of microelectronic devices that improves cost, performance and power. This trend, empirically summarised as Moore’s law, is coming to an end because of the intrinsic scale limit of silicon microelectronics.
The new era of innovation will be profoundly different, calling for new material systems to host even smaller devices under new geometry, new heterogeneity, new quantum degrees of freedom to carry information, and new physical principles to process and store information.
Two-dimensional materials have a great potential to revolutionise microelectronics and information technology. The variety of 2D materials feature a wide range of material properties from metal, semiconductors, insulators to magnets and superconductors, as well as exotic physics associated with electrons’ quantum degrees of freedom (spin & valley) that could be exploited to encode and process information more efficiently.
Their extreme thinness – which is just a few atoms at most – promises the ultimate miniaturisation of devices and unparalleled control of materials and device functions. Moreover, 2D materials feature unprecedented flexibility in their assembly into heterostructures, through which new materials and device functionalities may emerge.
This project aims to explore these exciting opportunities for revolutionising electronics, optoelectronics and photonics, through a concerted effort addressing the fundamental issues from physics, materials synthesis to device engineering based on 2D materials.
Led by pioneers in the field of 2D materials, the team will seek to sustain Hong Kong’s edge in the field through basic and applied research, with a long-term goal of developing new prototype devices that will have application and commercialisation potentials for Hong Kong.
A local tech firm operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched a new solution. It is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Conversational user experience
Chatbots offer a new and flexible way for businesses to create a brand-new experience for mobile users. Chatbot responses are conversational, it can give personalised suggestions, answer enquiries, process orders, show the effect of a certain product or update the latest news stories etc.
Natural language processing – can understand Cantonese, Mandarin and More
The firm has designed a bot that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the meaning behind what is being said to it; the bot can also respond appropriately. Modern NLP relies on machine learning, which means the bot is continually learning from the conversations it’s having and improving its own performance.
Artificial Intelligence – can provide personal recommendations via machine learning
The research found that 35% of what consumers purchase on the leading online shopping site and 75% of what they watch on an American over-the-top content platform come from product recommendations. The HK tech firm’s bot can be trained to learn what user’s like or dislike and make personalised recommendations about users’ products.
The solution was designed to be applied across a variety of areas including Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing.
Use case 1
The firm’s chatbots enable customers to engage with utility services via a self-service experience that is highly efficient, check for plan usage and purchase bonus service options on various social media sites, buy prepaid plans and recharge data plan without the need of visiting a store, troubleshoot for customers who need advice when installing new equipment, modifying service plans and connecting with a live agent if needed.
Goal: Drive revenue via various messaging channels and provide scalable services to customers with an immediate response.
Functionality: Mobile Usage Data, Consumption Controls, eCommerce Integration, Step-by-step Troubleshooting, Surveys
Integration with: Product Database, CRM Software, Support Ticketing Software, Plan and Billing Database
Use case 2
The firm deployed the chatbot for the government sector and other public institutions for help desk support.
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) has introduced five Research and Development (R&D) funds under the Malaysia Grand Challenge (MGC) to help commercialise products and innovations here.
The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation stated that the funds would cover various sectors, aimed at improving people’s lives, economic system and environment at both the local and global levels. He said MGC would introduce various incentives and collaborative efforts through disruptive technology in mainstreaming science, technology and innovation.
This, he said, was in line with the country’s aspiration to realise the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations.
He noted that the MGC was introduced to encourage the research, development, commercialisation and innovation (R&D&C&I) in the country. Mosti will offer R&D allocations under the Pemacu strategic technology fund programme (Pemacu) and applications are open to start-up companies, Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), multinational companies and even individuals.
The government has the responsibility to invest in R&D so those that are successful later could be commercialised, with private sectors investing in them. It’s very difficult to find venture capital firms that invest in research before the commercialisation, he said.
While not all funded R&D (projects) would be successful, the hope is to see a large number of them commercialised, the Minister said, adding the ministry targeted R&D for 114 products this year.
Efforts by countries like the United States that invested in smartphone technology like touchscreen and the one the country’s tech giants’ voice-controlled personal assistant that have also benefited consumers across the globe were cited.
MGC would improve innovations, creativity and commercialisations of local products through sustainable technology, thus reducing dependency on foreign innovations.
The five funds available under Pemacu are the Strategic Research Fund, Technology Development Fund 1 (TeD1), Technology Development Fund 2 (Ted2 which is an extension of TeD1), Bridging Fund (BGF) and Applied Innovation Fund (AIF).
SRF provides up to RM15 million to SMEs and multinational companies for a matching period of 36 months for products with Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of 3 to 9. The TeD 1 offers up to RM1 million funds within 24 months for TRL 2 to 4; TeD 2 (RM3 million within 36 months for TRL 4 to 7); BGF (RM4 million in 36 months for TRL 7 to 9); and AIF (RM500,000 in 12 to 18 months for TRL 2 to 4).
The scheme would strengthen the R&D&C&I sector in the country, with a target of 3.5 per cent gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) by 2030 from 1.08 per cent presently. Moreover, the initiative was in support of Malaysia’s High-Tech Nation Council in charting the current and future technology development in the country that would cover issues like health, environment, food, access to technology and security.
OpenGov Asia recently reported earlier that the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTIN) 2021-2030 will intensify local technology development and application efforts to transform the country from being technology users to technology developers.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation stated that by setting a target of becoming a high-technology country, the efforts would be able to reduce dependence on foreign technology and labour. The experimental development research efforts would be empowered by setting aside 50 per cent from the allocation for research and development (R&D).
The government through this ministry has formulated the new policy which will also address the issue of innovation inefficiency, where the concept of Science, Technology, Innovation and Economy (STIE) is introduced.
An integrated approach combining the two major sectors of the country, namely ‘STI’ and ‘Economy’ as one sector to ensure that all programmes are implemented to complement each other and have a high impact, thus making STI as an enabler in addressing national issues and challenges.
The government is aware that STI-based economic growth efforts require the cooperation of various parties, therefore this policy emphasises strategic collaboration between government, industry, academia and society, particularly in the development of local technologies through R&D&C&I.