Commission of India that is the National Institution for Transforming India
(NITI Aayog) released a press
statement that said that the digital payment market in India is
expected to grow to US $1 trillion by 2023.
The development and expansion in the mobile
payments market have presented several big business opportunities for players
in the digital space. Mobile payments are expected to rise from $10 billion in
2017-2018 to $190 billion by 2023.
According to the
press release, these estimates are based on a study of Credit Suisse and outlined
in the booklet, ‘Digital Payment: Trends, Issues and Opportunities’, by Mr Ratan
P. Watal, the Principal Advisor, NITI Commission and Member Secretary of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister
highlighted the key features of the digital payments market. It discusses the
growth momentum of digital payments in volume and value that has been sustained
post demonetisation and the increase seen in new products like the Unified
Payments Interface (UPI). The UPI is, according to the Cashless
India website, a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a
single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking
The booklet also
mentions the steps that are being taken to bring in a new regulatory regime as
per the Watal Committee Report. The booklet also mentions the new initiatives
the Reserve Bank of India
has taken to usher in the new era of digital payment methods and the array of
new opportunities ahead for fintech players.
At a conference
organised by the Federation
of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and NITI Commission,
Mr Watal examined the growth trends in digital payment; the digital payments
market witnessed a steady increase in 2017-2018 both in terms of quantity and
In terms of quantity, the development during the
year was much higher than the trend growth rate during 2011-2016. The rate of
growth in total retail payments in value terms has seen a three-fold increase
than the trend rate of the last five years.
The release said
the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS)
segments had a high growth rate during 2017- 2018. The UPI, despite being a new
product in the payment segment, has been readily adopted by consumers and
The analysis of
growth trends is based on data from the Ministry of Electronics and Information
Technology (MeitY) and the Reserve Bank of India. While the MeitY data provides
only data regarding volume in the public domain, the RBI provides data on both-
volume and value in the public domain.
At the conference,
Mr Watal announced the initiative launched by the NITI Commission in
collaboration with the Ministry
of Human Resource Development under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks
(GIAN) Scheme. The NITI Aayog had initiated a short-term course on digital payment
methods. It was held at Mangalore University from 23 to 27 July 2018.
Mr Watal said that
the proposed changes in the regulatory framework, the entry of global giants
and the advancement of technology will drive the future growth of digital payments
in the country.
Two tech firms operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that they have launched new solutions which are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution one – City Traffic Simulation System
The system that the firm provides allows users to trial virtual routes using dummy cars (virtual vehicles) so that they can experience the latest routes and collect feedback on them without having to wait until the roads are built to find out the problems.
Firstly, the system can improve the effectiveness of traffic route design. Secondly, the system can reduce and avoid road traffic congestion caused by road design. Third, collected data can be used for further development of many other technologies including autonomous driving AI.
The solution was developed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Commerce and Industry, Development, Environment, Health, Housing, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The developed using the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Analytics, Deep Learning and Virtual Reality.
The collected data can be used for the further development of many other technologies, including autonomous driving artificial intelligence. Although the development of this new technology requires a lot of data, the firm found that realistic and games are the perfect tool for acquiring large amounts of data.
Solution two – micro-segmentation solution
The second innovation is a micro-segmentation solution that prevents the spread of breaches inside data centres and cloud environments. Various global enterprises use the firm’s system to reduce cyber risk and achieve regulatory compliance.
The firm’s platform uniquely protects critical information with real-time application dependency and vulnerability mapping coupled with micro-segmentation that works across any data centre, public cloud, or hybrid cloud deployment on bare-metal, virtual machines, and containers.
The solution was meant to be applied across the areas of 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, Transport as well as in public organisations.
The solution employs the latest in Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Machine Learning and Cybersecurity.
The tech company has assisted many organisations to reduce firewall complexity rules by 95%. Moreover, the solutions have seen 15,000 firewalls rules reduced to 40 security policies and had saved over US$300,000 in labour and transformation costs.
The firm also segmented development and production environments without having to shift infrastructure or re-architect their network, saving over US$200,000 in re-architecture costs.
The tech company provides precise protection of critical applications, enabling Zero Trust control against the spread of potential attacks, easy-to-deploy micro-segmentation with quick time to value; reliability and confidence from testing; visibility for cross-team collaboration; and millions in savings vs. ACI and NGFWs.
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 Victorian government plans to invest a total of AU$30 million to upgrade and modernise the IT infrastructure of 28 of the state’s hospitals and health services in a bid to guard against further cyber-attacks.
The AU$30 million will be divided amongst hospitals across Melbourne and regional and rural health services. Melbourne hospitals will receive a majority share of nearly AU$22 million, while the remaining AU$8 million will be split between regional and rural health services.
As part of the state government’s Clinical Technology Refresh program, the funding will be used specifically to replace older servers and operating systems with new infrastructure.
The state government touted the new infrastructure will reduce IT outages, improve network speed, support the rollout of Wi-Fi at the bedside of patients, as well as enable the loading and viewing of high-resolution medical imaging, telehealth, and access to clinical support and pathology results from other hospitals.
Victoria’s Minister for Health stated, “We are helping hospitals and health services across Victoria upgrade computers and IT infrastructure to strengthen reliability and cybersecurity. This is about protecting our health services from cyber attacks.”
Last month, surgeries operated by Eastern Health in Victoria were forced to cancel some patient appointments after experiencing a “cyber incident”.
Eastern Health operates the Angliss, Box Hill, Healesville, and Maroondah hospitals, and has many more facilities under management. In a statement, Eastern Health said it took many of its systems offline in response to the incident.
The statement noted that many Eastern Health IT systems have been taken off-line as a precaution while we seek to understand and rectify the situation. It is important to note, patient safety has not been compromised, it added.
Back in 2019, a similar incident affecting Victoria’s hospitals occurred, which resulted in them disconnecting themselves from the internet in an attempt to quarantine a ransomware infection.
At the time, the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet revealed the impacted hospitals were in the Gippsland Health Alliance and the South West Alliance of Rural Health.
The incident occurred shortly after the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) labelled the state’s public health system as highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, with a report flagging that security weaknesses within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) own technology arm are increasing the likelihood of a breach in 61% of the state’s health services.
“There are key weaknesses in health services’ physical security, and in their logical security, which covers password management and other user access controls,” VAGO had written. “Staff awareness of data security is low, which increases the likelihood of success of social engineering techniques such as phishing or tailgating into corporate areas where ICT infrastructure and servers may be located.”
In its audit, VAGO probed three health providers and examined how two different areas of the DHHS – the Digital Health branch and Health Technology Solution – provide health services in the state.
In probing the health services, VAGO said it was also able to access accounts, including admin ones, using “basic hacking tools”. The accounts had weak passwords and no MFA.
The report said that all the audited health services need to do more to protect patient data. It also found that health services do not have appropriate governance and policy frameworks to support data security.
Three initiatives for the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) have been inaugurated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). NIXI will play a significant role in helping Indian entities learn about and adopt IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet protocol.
It provides identification and location information for devices and networks connecting to the Internet. A news report explained that the protocol is considered especially important with the impending move to 5G, which will increase the total number of devices connecting to the Internet. Last February, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had mandated all government organisations to transition to IPv6 by March 2020.
It said that IPv6 could offer better traceability and interaction between networks and devices in the future. This is a crucial factor, given the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is expected once 5G networks start rolling in.
NIXI was formed in 2003 and works to provide improved Internet services in the country. It was set up for peering ISPs among themselves to reroute domestic traffic within the country, instead of from abroad. This enhances the quality of service (reduced latency) and reduces bandwidth charges for ISPs by saving on international bandwidth.
IPv6 Expert Panel (IP Guru)
The IP Guru group was created to support Indian entities that have technical trouble migrating to and adopting IPv6. Additionally, the IPv6 expert group will identify and hire agencies to help end customers by providing the necessary technical support to adopt IPv6. The panel will guide and aid IPv6 adoption. It comprises members from DoT, MeitY, and private organisations.
The NIXI Academy educates technical and non-technical people in the country about technologies like IPv6, which are generally not taught in educational institutes. The platform helps network operators and educators understand networking best practices, principles, and techniques. It shows users how to manage Internet resources better and use Internet technologies more effectively.
The NIXI Academy consists of an IPv6 training portal, which was developed by several technical experts. It offers mass training tools. The beginner training materials offered initially will be available for free, but advanced courses may be offered in the future and will be chargeable. Successful candidates (that have passed the examination) will receive a certificate from NIXI, which will be useful to find jobs in the industry.
NIXI has also developed an IPv6 index portal for the Internet community. It will showcase the IPv6 adoption rate in India and across the world. It can be used to compare IPv6 domestic data with other economies in the world. The portal will provide details about IPv6 adoption and traffic, shortly. It is expected to motivate organisations to adopt IPv6. It will collect input and research for planning by technical organisations and academicians.
Organisations and governments aim to abolish the old IPv4 protocol, which was based on 32-bit systems. It could only accommodate 4.3 billion devices. This is not enough for the proliferation of devices connected to the Internet today. IPv6 is more secure, efficient, and mobile-friendly, making it a suitable system for use in the future of 5G. “The idea is that IPv6 addresses will be used as identifiers for both external and internal devices in your organization,” according to a technical policy analyst.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) recently hosted the STP Platform Experience Day to showcase successful technology use cases that have undergone the STP Platform’s extensive validation process during their pilot phase.
From an automated rodent detection application to disinfecting robots and a preview of AI-powered smart traffic management, the use cases are proof of the growing demand and benefits of the platform’s suite of validation and testing services.
The STP Platform is a dedicated service platform to support the technology development of tech ventures and encourage technology adoption by corporates especially in the areas of AI and Robotics (AIR), smart city, big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors technologies.
The platform builds upon HKSTP’s industry-first validation service for AIR, previously announced in August 2020, featuring unique virtual and physical lab simulation and real-world testing capabilities.
At the Experience Day, use cases tested at the STP Platform during the pilot stage were shared during the panel discussion. Industry experts from the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), MTR Corporation Limited (MTR), Transport Department and The University of Hong Kong (HKU) shared their expertise on the value and impact of industry-standard simulation and their experience of identifying and honing the right solutions through the validation process.
The CEO of HKSTP stated, “The success of our Park companies is our success. It is encouraging to see the impact and market adoption of their innovations through the STP Platform. The use cases on show at the STP Platform Experience Day are a great demonstration of our living lab philosophy and mission to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies across Hong Kong business. The validation services drive trust, acceptance and confidence in these emerging technologies and further establish Hong Kong businesses as bold pioneers and adopters of game-changing innovations.”
Reducing technology risk, uncertainty and adoption barriers
The STP Platform addresses the biggest barriers to the development and commercial adoption of emerging technologies. Validation of innovation is often expensive, time-consuming and limited by physical constraints and the lack of benchmarks for a fair comparison. The STP Platform offers corporates an independent performance evaluation tool, allowing them to test different solutions accurately and cost-effectively under numerous user scenarios.
The STP Platform overcomes major obstacles in technology adoption among businesses by delivering three key benefits:
- High cost-performance (CP) value. The performance of different image recognition solutions were evaluated in a case that tested their ability to recognise rodents. This enables a like-for-like and impartial comparison so that corporates make an informed decision on which solution best balances their performance and budget.
- Versatile testing capability. The platform’s highly versatile testing capabilities were demonstrated by evaluating disinfection robots under an unlimited set of environments. The STP Platform’s virtual lab can accurately simulate different real-world settings ranging from hotels to shopping malls. Additional integration with physical testing removes a host of limitations and time constraints and further validates the virtual simulation results.
- Risk-free validation. The STP platform reduces the risks of limited testing data, inaccurate projections and unfavourable outcomes. The platform provides a comprehensive preview over a longer period with unlimited scenarios, enabling better forecast for making decisions and reducing cost. HKSTP’s Smart Transportation Challenge which was hosted in March, saw solution providers using the simulation technology of STP Platform to visualise their traffic congestion solutions and test their performance.
With ongoing effort, the STP Platform will develop more datasets and simulation scenarios to further expand and enhance modelling capabilities. It has a clear vision to offer richer standards and benchmarks to support a wider variety of industries and applications. The platform is constantly evolving to test and validate more cutting-edge technology areas for the banking and finance, real estate, construction sectors and more.
The Indian Supreme Court recently launched its first artificial intelligence-driven research portal, the Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SUPACE). It is an AI-enabled assistive tool to improve the efficiency of legal researchers and judges by aiding the extraction of relevant information about a case. It can read case files, manage teamwork, and draft case documents.
As per a news report, the portal is accessible through a login ID and password. It provides easily accessible summaries, files, and documents of cases in the database. Tasks and the details of progress and people are also displayed. A universal search allows a user to scan through all the files in the database.
Through the portal, the Supreme Court intends to leverage machine learning to deal with the large amount of data received while case filing. Chief Justice SA Bobde, who inaugurated the portal, described it as a “hybrid system” and “a perfect blend of human intelligence and machine learning”.
The news report outlined the four parts of SUPACE’s AI-powered workflow:
- File Preview: The case files, typically available as PDFs, can also be converted into text. There is also a search tool to browse through the case files.
- Chatbot: The text and voice-enabled chatbot provides a quick overview of the case, by answering questions such as “What is the matter about?” or “Which fundamental rights of the petitioner are violated?” The Chatbot can switch between documents for the answer while allowing the user to check the source. It suggests further questions for a better understanding of the case. The user can print the entire question summary.
- Logic Gate: The fact extraction system for the chatbot is divided into four parts: Synopsis, FAQs, Evidence, and Case Law. These give information about the case such as the overview, chronology, and judgement. In the near future, with enough training and refinement of the algorithm, the chatbot will have the ability to answer any questions about the case- whether factual or contextual.
- Notebook: The portal offers an integrated word processor. The user can produce a summary of the case by simply collating all information auto-extracted from the database using the AI tool. Further, the portal offers a voice dictation option to prepare notes. Therefore, without typing a word, a summary document can be prepared as a soft or hard copy.
Justice L Nageswara Rao, who was present during the unveiling, is the current chairman of the Supreme Court’s Artificial Intelligence Committee. SUPACE has been designed to only process information and make it available to the Judges. Government officials have stressed the portal will not be involved in the decision-making of a case. For now, only the Judges in the Delhi and Bombay High Courts that deal with criminal cases will use the portal on an experimental basis. According to Justice SA Bobde, AI is better at processing words and figures and will only collect the data, discover facts, and present it to the Judges. The final call will rest with the Judges. AI in the judiciary system enables the automation of mundane processes. Legal teams have to process numerous amounts of data and implementing AI will reduce pendency and costs and increase speed and efficiency.
Researchers at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have developed a promising new process that could eliminate water stress for millions of people, including those living in many of the planet’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. A team led by Associate Professor Haolan Xu has refined a technique to derive fresh water from seawater, brackish water, or contaminated water, through highly efficient solar evaporation, delivering enough daily fresh drinking water for a family of four from just one square metre of source water.
At the heart of the system is a highly efficient photothermal structure that sits on the surface of a water source and converts sunlight to heat, focusing energy precisely on the surface to rapidly evaporate the uppermost portion of the liquid. While other researchers have explored similar technology, previous efforts have been hampered by energy loss, with heat passing into the source water and dissipating into the air above.
“Previously many of the experimental photothermal evaporators were basically two dimensional; they were just a flat surface, and they could lose 10 to 20 per cent of solar energy to the bulk water and the surrounding environment,” Dr Xu says. “We have developed a technique that not only prevents any loss of solar energy but actually draws additional energy from the bulk water and surrounding environment, meaning the system operates at 100 per cent efficiency for the solar input and draws up to another 170 per cent energy from the water and environment.”
In contrast to the two-dimensional structures used by other researchers, the team developed a three-dimensional, fin-shaped, heatsink-like evaporator. Their design shifts surplus heat away from the evaporator’s top surfaces (i.e., solar evaporation surface), distributing heat to the fin surface for water evaporation, thus cooling the top evaporation surface and realising zero energy loss during solar evaporation.
This heatsink technique means all surfaces of the evaporator remain at a lower temperature than the surrounding water and air, so additional energy flows from the higher-energy external environment into the lower-energy evaporator.
The team are the first researchers in the world to extract energy from the bulk water during solar evaporation and use it for evaporation, and this has helped their process become efficient enough to deliver between 10 and 20 litres of fresh water per square metre per day.
In addition to its efficiency, the practicality of the system is enhanced by the fact it is built entirely from simple, everyday materials that are low cost, sustainable and easily obtainable.
The main aim of their research was to deliver for practical applications, so the materials we used were just sourced from the hardware store or supermarket, Assoc Prof Xu said. “The only exception is the photothermal materials, but even there we are using a very simple and cost-effective process, and the real advances we have made are with the system design and energy nexus optimisation, not the materials.”
In addition to being easy to construct and easy to deploy, the system is also very easy to maintain, as the design of the photothermal structure prevents salt and other contaminants building up on the evaporator surface. Together, the low cost and easy upkeep mean the system developed by the team could be deployed in situations where other desalination and purification systems would be financially and operationally unviable.
In remote communities with small populations, for example, the infrastructure cost of systems like reverse osmosis often too great to justify. However, the team’s technique could deliver a very low-cost alternative that would be easy to set up and essentially free to run. Moreover, as the system is simple and requires virtually no maintenance, there is no technical expertise needed to keep it running and upkeep costs are minimal.
Assoc Prof Xu stated that the technology has the potential to provide a long-term clean water solution to people and communities who can’t afford other options, and these are the places such solutions are most needed. In addition to drinking water applications, the team is currently exploring a range of other uses for the technology, including treating wastewater in industrial operations.
Singapore recognises that threats to an open, secure, and peaceful cyberspace are increasingly sophisticated, transboundary, and asymmetric. As a small and highly connected State that has been the subject of several cyber-attacks, Singapore is strongly committed to the establishment of an international rules-based order in cyberspace. This will serve as a basis for trust and confidence between the Member States and enable economic and social progress. To reap the full benefits of digital technologies, the international community must develop a secure, trusted, and open cyberspace underpinned by international law.
On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed how interoperable systems and an international rules-based consensus can help boost cybersecurity.
Mr Koh said that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports the ideology of countries working together in an international interoperable economic system. He added that Singapore has benefited significantly from this global trend by reaping the benefits of free-flowing trade and information, goods, and services. This has resulted in inter-connected supply chains which increases information and data flows. Knowing this, Mr Koh said that this is also the ideal scenario for digitalisation. Countries should work together as one in trying to achieve full digital transformation, which can be attained by having a secured and interoperable internet.
Mr Koh also discussed the fact that Singapore welcomes the establishment of a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the decision to convene an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The CSA believes that the work of the GGE and the OEWG can and should be complementary in tackling issues like cyber resiliency. The major players need to promote interoperability and work together, in the spirit of consensus, mutual respect and mutual trust.
At the regional level, Singapore has worked with fellow Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to issue the first ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation during the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018. In the Statement, ASEAN Leaders reaffirmed the need for a rules-based international order in cyberspace. They also tasked relevant Ministers to identify a suitable mechanism or platform for coordinating cybersecurity policy, diplomacy, cooperation, technical and capacity building efforts across ASEAN, as well as a concrete list of voluntary, practical norms of State behaviour in cyberspace that ASEAN can also adopt.
At the national level, Singapore has made significant strides in strengthening the cybersecurity of its local systems and networks on three fronts – building resilient infrastructure, creating safer cyberspace, and developing a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem.
Furthermore, Mr Koh said that to achieve true cyber resilience, there should be accountability and a rules-based international system. One example of an international rules-based framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea where countries included in the treaty follow rules and regulations uniformly. Mr Koh said that a framework like the UNCLOS can be applied in cybersecurity as well so that there is a wider adoption amongst countries.
Mr Koh conceded that the major challenge in cyberspace is the fact that the internet was not originally designed with security in mind, and the dimensions it is based on anonymity. This anonymity may not be ideal especially when it comes to secure banking transactions, financial systems, and cybersecurity as a whole.
Mr Koh believes that accountability must be integrated into trying to achieve cyber resiliency, that is why the CSA is empowering organisations and governments to boost their technical capabilities for them to call out bad behaviour and identify who is responsible for malicious actions in the cyber domain. Mr Koh emphasised that reducing anonymity can greatly mitigate threats and crimes in the digital space.