The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that US$ 800 billion to US$ 2 trillion is laundered through worldwide financial systems each year. That is an astonishing 2%-5% of global GDP.
The fight against money laundering and other financial crimes is a never-ending battle. No sooner have financial institutions got to grips with one tactic, than the criminals have moved on to new methods and alternative strategies.
The rise of the digital economy during the Covid pandemic has opened new avenues for financial crime and the perpetrators have been quick to exploit them. Often financial institutions are hampered by outdated legacy systems and software which make it hard to comply with revised and new measures which are introduced to reinforce AML frameworks. The criminals, by contrast, are not bound by such compliances, are nimble and can adapt quickly.
In this ongoing fight against financial crime, financial institutions must stay ahead of the myriad of ways bad actors are trying to infiltrate their systems. Increasingly, innovative technologies such as advanced analytics, AI and ML have become the ammunition deployed by banks to bolster their frontline defence.
To mitigate challenges posed by such crimes, financial institutions are increasingly looking to AI and ML to help them get the upper hand – to harness the potential of advanced analytics.
Most financial services companies are aware that AI is getting faster and cheaper and offers smarter ways to tackle financial crime. For example, AI can scan enormous amounts of data and identify patterns, behaviours, and anomalies faster than any human can. It can analyse voice records and detect changes in emotion and motivation that can give clues about fraudulent activities. AI can investigate linkages between customers and employees and alert organisations to suspect dealings.
Financial institutions all around the world are looking at better ways to stay ahead of the bad actors and keep the robustness of the entire ecosystem. Singapore, as one of the major financial hubs, has worked together with the regulatory agencies in the fight against financial crimes like money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF). Regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies are keen to tap public-private collaboration and catalyse the effective use of enabling technologies to prevent criminals from abusing the financial system.
This points to the question: How can financial institutions take advantage of the tools and techniques available now while preparing themselves for what the future might look like?
The Fraud and Financial Crime Day held on 08 April 2022 was aimed at imparting knowledge on how Singapore financial institutions can accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge technologies like advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to fight the ever-evolving financial crimes.
Contending with the growing threat of fraud
Kicking off the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief acknowledges that the pandemic brought significant changes in culture and perspective. More people are getting online for work, shopping, information, news entertainment and getting financial transactions. This increased the attack/risk surface astronomically, allowing bad actors scores of openings and opportunities.
In the digital age, the implications of financial crime against banks and other financial services institutions are accelerating rapidly, Mohit notes. In 2021, global online fraud attack rates grew by a staggering 223%.
Of course, organisations, enterprises and government agencies ran many awareness and education campaigns. This had some effect and impact. But while education is important, and organisations (financial and others) deploy ways to mitigate financial crimes, the fact is that criminals also update, upgrade and improvise to counter these measures.
To manage the risk, the government and banking industry must come to get together to ensure that they can cope with the volume of crimes, he asserts. Fraud prevention now represents one of the biggest areas of concern for the financial services industry and is likely to have bigger ramifications in the coming years. There is the fraud that goes undetected, impossible to account for and assess.
Yet, institutions are not giving technology the amount of attention it should be given. As criminals become more sophisticated, it is imperative to explore technology that can help with the issue.
Digitalisation presents opportunities and challenges. Technology as a tool is a two-edged sword capable of swinging both negatively and positively. The same thing could be said for financial crimes cases. While technology serves investigators and prosecutors in their fight against crime, it has also given criminals an easy way to carry out fraudulent practices.
Closing his address, Mohit strongly recommends organisations look for specialists to partner with. “Let the experts do what they do best,” Mohit urges. “It not only allows the best systems and infrastructure to be put in place but also frees up the organisational workforce to focus on driving growth.”
Harnessing technology to manage financial crimes
Alex Kwiatkowski, Director, Global Financial Services, SAS spoke next about the role of AI/ML in dealing with financial crimes.
SAS is the founder of analytics and has been working with data since 1976. In the context of financial compliance, financial crime fighters are there to protect banks and customers from the nefarious acts of criminals.
The last two years have shown that institutions need to prepare themselves with technology that will allow them to mitigate the impacts of a major disruptive event. “COVID-19 was a playground for the criminals, capitalising on vulnerabilities during digital transformation to different modes of operation to work in different ways. While financial crimes are not new, the pandemic accelerated and exacerbated the situation.
Besides the adoption of technology, Alex emphasises that managing financial crimes will require processes – the way technology is wielded to solve issues – and people – having the skills to address the problem.
“AI may be prevalent, but it still requires a human to decide on the application,” Alex opines. “Moreover, people are important in the implementation of responsible AI and processes.”
In conclusion, Alex believes that AI, ML and robotics play a huge role and will continue to play a significant role in the future. In financial institutions, speed in decision-making is key to reducing the number of false positives and letting through legitimate transactions. Through technology, Alex asserts, institutions can find the ability to provide seamless service to customers and ensure that criminals continue being inconvenienced.
Role of KYC in Anti-Money Laundering
Karthik Prabhakar, Lead Advisor – Know Your Customer Centre of Excellence, ANZ spoke on the importance of KYC as a baseline and understanding ways to leverage technology to devise solutions in Anti-Money Laundering.
“KYC is the line of actual control – the first line of defence in the fight against financial crimes,” Karthik opens. “it is the cornerstone of an effective AML policy.”
He explains that the purpose of KYC is to ensure that the customer is “who they say they are.” He observes that COVID-19 amplified existing risks even as new risks are continually emerging. In such a scenario, existing controls no longer work and must be re-examined.
Consequently, the are several challenges that present themselves:
- The need to design newer controls
- The need to leverage better and faster technology
- Uplifting capability
- Navigating through regulatory reform and change
- Focus on business
- Balancing costs and providing a return to the shareholders
For Karthik, the possible solutions can be arrived at when various stakeholders come together – government, tech, and end-user – to meet the challenges.
Government (Legislative reform)
- Stronger legislation
- Consistent timely legislation
- Modern legislative framework
- Easy to implement but robust standards
- Inter-governmental collaboration
- Develop robust risk and control systems
- Identify emerging risks
- Industry collaboration – share information & intelligence
- Ethical business practices
- Adherence to standards
- Ethical tech that balances commercial needs with privacy and security concerns
- Easy to use, easy to implement and scalable solutions
In closing, Karthik echoed Mohit’s assertion that technology needs to be implemented to meet the new challenges presented by increasingly sophisticated criminals. The changes brought about by the pandemic have increased the incidences of financial crimes, which require close attention. For institutions to stay on top of their game, they need to strengthen their AML strategy, he concludes.
Power Talk / Interactive Discussions
Following the presentation, Mohit moderated an interactive discussion, featuring panellists, Karthik Prabhakar, Lead Advisor – Know Your Customer Centre of Excellence, ANZ; Kelvin Tam, Regional Head of AML Technology – Asia Pacific, HSBC; Kenneth Koh, Head of Industry Consulting, APAC, SAS; Christopher Tan, Partner Revenue Acceleration Director – APJ, Intel.
The first poll asked delegates what their key challenge was in preventing financial crimes. Delegates were fairly evenly split between legacy systems (30%) and criminal innovation (27%). The rest went with the complex compliance landscape (17%), evolving financial landscape (17%) or other unlisted issues (9%).
One delegate believes that legacy systems are unable to cater to the complex landscape and there is a need for a better system to adapt to innovations in financial crimes. “Making sure that we have the right tool and system is paramount,” he opines.
On that note, another delegate recognises that it takes time for institutions and people to adjust to changes. There is a period of getting familiar with new systems and processes.,
Ahmed agrees that dealing with legacy systems is a big challenge for people across the board. Institutions need to be agile in dealing with emergent risks, he believes.
Kelvin added that the financial landscape is constantly evolving – there is an increase in payment channels. With the pandemic came a radical change in behaviour by consumers. That means that bad actors can tap into the new channels. Further, he points out that legacy systems are not able to keep up with the rapidly changing rules of compliance.
Kenneth added that the growth of financial institutions also makes detection more difficult. New challenges are taxing the first-generation fraud management solutions, placing pressure on systems.
The next poll inquired on the use case that is the most likely to help organisations in the financial crime and compliance management space. More than half (55%) expressed that working with full datasets to analyse potential fraud would be the most beneficial. The rest of the delegates expressed that adjusting behavioural models to new fraud patterns with a low degree of latency (36%) and creating a data lake to help respond to regulatory demands (9%) are the most likely to help them.
In response to a question about the difference between creating a data lake and having full data sets, Kenneth explained that a data lake creates a data repository while having full data sets refers to all data and takes into consideration the quality of data used.
To mitigate financial crimes, Kenneth recommends the approach of examining the financial crime analytics lifecycle in three ways: Data: Data management and data quality checks; Discovery: Uncovering behavioural models and network link analysis; Deployment: Deploying the model to detect new forms of fraudulent activities
Mohit also added that data lakes also refer to specifically to the centralisation of data.
Karthik opines that a data lake is more useful for measuring fraud. To manage fraud, data needs to come from different sources, which strengthens the case for having centralised data.
The third poll asked about an organisation’s biggest compliance-related pain point. Delegates were equally divided between their limited ability to dynamically adapt through using machine learning and decisioning on the fly (35%) and the many ‘false positives’ that the AML system generates (35%). The remaining delegates selected poor or outdated data segmentation (10%), limited ability to detect hidden legal entities (10%), high cost and effort to adapt to new regulatory guidelines (5%), or little or no alert prioritisation (5%).
Kenneth shared that fraudsters are getting sophisticated and asked delegates to consider a hybrid model when it comes to fraud detection. This involves simultaneously looking at business rules, anomaly detection and social network analysis to create a hybrid model. “Having false positives is normal,” Kenneth explains. “However, with technology, it is possible to minimise false positives and increase the true positives.”
When asked about their organisation’s biggest pain point concerning data, half of the delegates (50%) consider coverage – collecting and compiling data globally – their biggest pain point. The remaining delegates were split between recency – data being up to date (31%), relevancy – data being stored in the right categories (14%) and others (5%).
Ahmed opined that reconciling the information is challenging because organisations have to collect data from many data sources. As such, he recommends the use of technology to help with data management. Christopher added that out of the data generated only a small portion is relevant and usable.
Combating money laundering through technology
Ahmed Drissi, Anti-Money Laundering Lead, APAC, SAS, spoke next on the use of technology and the best practices banks need to fight money laundering.
“How do we fight crypto money laundering,” Ahmed asks. “Crypto is fast becoming a mainstay; financial institutions need to understand the latest risk and how it will impact our customers.”
In reviewing the crypto market, he notes how events have been responding to this growth. “It took about 50 years to grow credit cards’ volume of payments from US$ 0 to US$ 14 trillion across companies and only 4 years for US$ 4.3 trillion in cryptocurrency payments!”
The initial response from banks was the de-risking of crypto because of cross border concerns, anonymity, and intermediaries. However, financial institutions are embracing Cryptocurrency Custodial Services in 2021:
- PayPal is adding crypto buying, selling, and custody features to “Venmo and select international markets”
- Deutsche Bank plans to offer crypto custodianship, trading, and token issuance services.
- BBVA Bank offers crypto trading and custody
- BNP Paribas offers security token transfers
He notes the following trends about the stand of financial institutions vis-à-vis cryptocurrency.
- FIs offering crypto services (i.e., Fidelity, Square, DBS)
- FIs providing services to Crypto Businesses (i.e., Signature, Provident)
- FIs Observing or not engaging with Crypto-Assets
Yet all the above FIs, Ahmed notes, face the risk posed by cryptocurrencies through their customers buying cryptocurrency. The challenge, then, lies in recognising the differences between money laundering and regular crypto exchange
He gave two examples of the risk that financial institutions face:
- Decentralised Exchange
Unlike centralised exchanges held on platforms and properly regulated by the same AML regulations, decentralised exchanges have No KYC, No SARs (STRs), No transaction monitoring, No registration and No record-keeping
- Risk of NFT
Money laundering for NFT can take the following process:
- Placement: Illicit actor purchases NFT with ill-gotten gains (e.g., ransomware, Dark Web)
- Layering: NFTs purchased and sold by and among illicit actors without limitation
- Integration: Illicit actor sells NFT, absent formal record or justification for the movement of funds
In a review of the Crypto Regulatory Landscape, Ahmed shares that in September 2020, FATF released a report on Virtual Assets Red Flag Indicators of ML/TF. That meant that for banks to detect any of the red flag indicators of ML/TF, they must be able to accurately identify and monitor all crypto-related transactions.
Accordingly, FATF requires obligations to obtain, hold, and transmit required originator and beneficiary information associated with Virtual Asset transfers to:
- Identify and report suspicious transactions
- Take freezing actions
- Prohibit transactions with designated persons and entities
VASP Identity fields are also required by FATF:
- Originator’s name
- Originator’s account number where such an account is used to process the transaction
- Originator’s physical address or national identity number or customer identification number that uniquely identifies the originator to the ordering institution, or date and place of birth
- Beneficiary’s name
- Beneficiary account number where such an account is used to process the transaction
However, Ahmed also notes that there are emerging challenges for VASPs:
- The ‘sunrise issue’ staggered enforcement of crypto AML regulations
- Counterparty VASP Due Diligence
- Cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection
Ahmed shared some of the best practices in monitoring virtual currencies in the payment networks. A typical name-based system may entirely miss up to 70% or more of the crypto exchanges out there and up to 90% of the actual transaction volume.
Most open-source lists are incomplete, perhaps covering the top 100 exchanges, leaving out the other 600+ exchanges. Many exchanges do not operate a business under their popular name. He concludes that name matching is not sufficient to find all cryptocurrency exchanges, resulting in significant missed exposure.
For Ahmed, better red flag indicators of ML/TF are:
- Converting a large amount of fiat currency into VAs with no logical business explanation
- Potential crypto money mule or scam victims
- Sending funds directly to high-risk or sanctioned regions
- Sending funds directly to a wallet tainted by a sanctioned entity
- Direct and indirect transactions with dark markets
- Use of mixing services
In conclusion, Ahmed emphasised the importance of understanding the threats from cryptocurrencies because of their increasing preeminence. Fighting money laundering has become a complex challenge that requires intelligent solutions.
Power Talk / Interactive Discussions
After the presentation, Mohit continued with the interactive discussion, featuring panellists, Karthik Prabhakar, Lead Advisor – Know Your Customer Centre of Excellence, ANZ; Kelvin Tam, Regional Head of AML Technology – Asia Pacific, HSBC; Kenneth Koh, Head of Industry Consulting, APAC, SAS; Christopher Tan, Partner Revenue Acceleration Director – APJ, Intel.
The poll inquired about the events that are likely to drive change within the organisations of the delegates. Most delegates (69%) find the regulatory enforcement action is the driver of change. The rest of the delegates were split between the options of reputational risk (19%) and competitor threat (12%).
Although most of the delegates find the regulatory enforcement action the driver, Mohit suggests competitor threat as a driver, given that digital banks do not have legacy systems to navigate through nor have a perfect data set. For Mohit, they are the main disruptors of the financial system.
“The top ten richest companies today were not in existence 20 years ago,” Mohit states, making the point that the world is changing rapidly with digital currencies and the crypto world.
Kenneth believes that regulatory enforcement action is the main driver because both digital and traditional banks will be governed. The other two options can be affected by the regulatory enforcement action. He states that if a bank is fined for non-compliance, the reputation of the bank suffers.
The final poll asked delegates how concerned they are regarding money laundering risks associated with Cryptocurrency. More than half (59%) were extremely concerned, while the rest were moderately concerned (33%) or not concerned (8%).
Mohit believes that when crypto is legalised it will be a major concern.
Ahmed added that even if cryptocurrencies are not regulated, he urges institutions to take advantage of the time to understand how cryptocurrencies work to understand the risks. He also added that even if banks are not offering services, customers are still sending funds to exchanges and trading. In that regard, banks are still exposed to risks from cryptocurrencies.
In closing, Ahmed thanked everyone for their active participation in the discussions. He reiterated that the use of AI and Ml is crucial for institutions to mitigate financial crimes. Giving practical advice on what delegates could do on the journey, Ahmed suggests that organisations need to have clarity on the data that they need and the problem the organisation would like to solve.
AI and ML can improve efficiency and reduce false positives. He urged delegates to collaborate with partners through data enrichment on KYC, but also in managing cryptocurrencies. He encouraged delegates to reach out to him if they have queries on how they can incorporate AI and ML in their AML strategy.
AI and other digital technologies could help solve some of the world’s most important social problems, like climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity and risks to public health, among others. Harnessing digital capabilities to promote a transformative system could be a game-changer for a sustainable and equitable global future.
Today’s consumers expect more than great products and services, and businesses are well aware of this. Clients want to feel like they are investing in a reputable, responsible brand. Consequently, the most market-dominant businesses are not merely profitable and have good products but those that have multiple alternate bottom lines – social, environmental and sustainable.
More than 90% of business executives agree that sustainability is crucial to their success. As consumer groups continue to publish reports on the increased desire for more environmentally friendly corporate practices, it is simple to see why green marketing strategies are gaining such importance.
The environment and sustainability are vital components in the strategy and operations of enterprises looking to be more conscientious. Organisations have been taking proactive steps to develop a greener future with their consumers, partners, stakeholders and workers. These efforts include environmental initiatives, community outreach efforts and business practices.
Advancing Environmental Sustainability and Resilience
“Everyone is becoming aware of the necessity for action to attain sustainability,” says Vivek. “There is a growing interest in corporate sustainability and how corporations can strive for it to meet the needs of stakeholders for social, economic, and environmental implications.”
Most businesses are considering ways to contribute significantly, which will need robust investment and efforts. “We see businesses quickening their momentum and considering effective climate innovations. A case in point is how electric mobility companies can be affected by the huge reductions in costs for climate technology.”
Vivek believes it is possible to adapt a company’s digital strategy to mitigate and deal with extreme climate change. Companies must include digitalisation and decarbonisation in their strategy, as industry 4.0 technologies will play a crucial role in meeting the emissions reduction goal.
Digital technologies can increase energy efficiency and decrease fuel consumption across multiple industries and sectors. Digitalisation has the potential to revolutionise the way people and technology interact by helping to analyse and calibrate necessary interventions.
By utilising digitalisation, businesses can identify the emissions sources, whether at the product level, manufacturing unit level, or equipment level. They can then determine the necessary interventions to reduce emissions, such as a change in the manufacturing or personnel settings, and then monitor whether the identified interventions are being implemented.
“Here is where I believe digitalisation and decarbonisation must go hand-in-hand, as this will ensure that industries undergo structural changes and reach their objective,” says Vivek.
Businesses need to be more conscious of the need to be prepared for the energy shift, and he has five relevant steps for how businesses should approach this:
- Develop an understanding of how energy shifts will affect your company;
- Think about a bold and ambitious target, such as considering how big of a carbon footprint reduction they intend to achieve with this energy transition;
- Consider various situations and their effects;
- Create a comprehensive plan that will serve as an overall strategy with well-defined and cascading targets;
- Think about implementation, where companies strike a balance between all the goals, e.g., carbon footprint and profitability
Right now, society is more conscious of sustainability and is calling for companies to shift their carbon footprint and be more conscious about emissions. This is causing profound changes in the corporate and government landscape.
Organisations can work toward more sustainable practices with the aid of corporate sustainability’s economic, social and environmental pillars. Businesses must alter their mindset from just profitability at the expense of the environment to a sustainable and profitable paradigm. There must be interdependence and a greater emphasis on operations and eco-innovation.
Adopting sustainable practices benefits the environment, but businesses have also demonstrated that these programmes can boost productivity, lower costs, make shareholders happy, and a host of other advantages.
“Corporate entities must take the initiative in determining pertinent technologies. Companies must implement technologies to decrease their carbon footprint. They are the ones that will bring about change. Governments can decide the legislation, but unless companies change, it will be difficult to achieve net zero,” Vivek firmly believes.
A green economy is the practice of sustainable development supported by public and private investment in creating an infrastructure that promotes social and environmental sustainability. A green economy refers to an economy in which individuals are increasingly aware of their carbon emissions and are taking steps to reduce them.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, that corporations and individuals generate.
There are numerous practical and effective approaches to implementing sustainable technologies at the national level. “I believe that each country will deploy different technologies; the mix of technologies, the adoption rate, and the deployment cost will all be very different. However, each country will need to consider what sustainable technologies are relevant to them, consider implementing them, and consider the reasons for doing so.”
According to Vivek, decarbonisation entails significant economic transformation. When new business opportunities arise in Asia, companies must contemplate how they will be the first to take advantage. To do this, they must seriously consider the technologies and industries they want to innovate in or implement and the various business models they should use to take these opportunities.
There will be an acceleration of the energy transitions if individuals in the nation change their behaviour, the government considers how the empowering regulations should be made, or how businesses decide how they will operate.
Vivek has led several large-scale transformations and new business builds across the region, such as for an energy conglomerate in Indonesia. From this experience, he is convinced that a fundamentally different way of thinking about any business problem is required.
It requires thinking about what the unique value proposition is going to be and thinking about getting new talent to build a business from the ground up. Some of his most memorable moments on this journey include realising the value of having the right talent.
Another thing he learned is that customer preferences change at very different levels. So, thinking about the organisation’s unique value propositions and how customers perceive them becomes very important. For incumbents, choosing different business models can also be essential.
Both private and public organisations are aware that change needs to occur quickly. Resources are becoming harder to come by while demand is rising, necessitating a balance to build a sustainable future. “Green technologies will help the world achieve sustainable levels and make the environment cleaner and safer for everyone.”
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
Vivek is on the International Judging Panel (IJP) of the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), a biennial global university start-up challenge held in Singapore.
As a member of the judging panel charged with driving, developing, and upholding the entrepreneurial spirit of the LKYGBPC participants, Vivek is focused on the innovativeness of the solutions, such as how effectively the technology solves the problem.
He also believes that feasibility and how the different technologies are correctly implemented can significantly change the world. “These two parameters will be quite useful in considering how we are selecting, or how I would select various technologies.”
He acknowledges that innovative entrepreneurship talent can be cultivated wider in the broader community through such competitions. These serve as an illustration of how they are fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across society.
The competition is also one example of instilling a culture where the next generation is thinking about how things can be done differently. Competitors explore creative ideas and have a forum where they can share their thoughts, which can be a great example of nurturing innovation.
The competition, which is run by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University (SMU), is centred on urban ideas and solutions developed by student founders and early-stage start-ups. It is positioned as a campus innovation movement that seeks to establish a global startup ecosystem with financial backers, including venture capitalists, corporate oligopolies, and governmental organisations.
“I believe many of our leading schools are doing a great job of instilling a culture where children are thinking about how things can be done differently and what are creative ideas,” Vivek opines.
There are numerous instances throughout the world where the technologies or solutions used by youth or larger communities have truly made a meaningful difference. “But it does take some significant effort to raise awareness and establish a forum where people can discuss their concerns, share their ideas, and obtain the resources needed to solve them,” Vivek concludes.
The Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) will be collaborating with a chemical manufacturing corporation in research that will drive new advancements in sustainable lithium battery technologies. The joint project will be led by the Executive Director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N) and Co-Director of NTUSingapore CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy (SCARCE), a centre for excellence in innovative solutions for recycling and recovering valuable elements from e-waste.
The Chief Commercial Officer at the chemical manufacturing corporation has played an important role in many breakthroughs in battery research and development. By expanding its R&D partnerships, the company can build on its heritage of innovation and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and find optimal pathways for progress.
The firm is excited to begin this journey with a pioneering, distinguished scientist like Professor Srinivasan and the entire team at NTU, as new pathways to support advancements in battery technology can be explored.
The Executive Director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N), who will lead the research, is a renowned academic whose research focuses on the circular economy. She worked extensively on research initiatives with battery industry leaders and helps advise on public policies for energy and sustainability in Singapore and around the world. She is also the Executive Director of the Sustainability Office at NTU Singapore, which oversees and integrates sustainability initiatives and innovation across the University and its smart campus.
She noted that NTU Singapore has a strong history of working closely with the industry to commercialise research into tangible and impactful outcomes. The team is excited to collaborate with innovative leaders like the partnering firm, to advance sustainable lithium battery technologies. Their hope is to accelerate a more sustainable approach for lithium-ion batteries used in millions of electric vehicles and portable devices across the world.
The global Lithium-ion Battery Market was US$36.90 billion in 2020. The global market size is projected to reach US$193.13 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 23.3% during the forecast period from 2021-2028.
Recent research shows that the continuing demand for power supply for numerous applications, augmented demand for electric vehicles, the surging necessity of battery-operated equipment and machinery in automotive industries, and the usage of lithium-ion batteries in renewable energy applications are sustaining the lithium-ion battery market growth.
As governments across the globe begin imposing guidelines for the monitoring of surging pollution phases. Various industries are being compelled to use lithium-ion batteries. The power industry is working to manufacture renewable energy and stock for future purposes.
In addition, low cost, low-self discharge rate, and negligible installation space are a few of the crucial factors driving the implementation of lithium-ion batteries in smart grid and energy storage systems. Since the product is more resilient to high temperatures, it is perfect for usage in distant areas and thermal control applications. The Asia Pacific region is expected to hold the largest lithium-ion battery market share during the mentioned period.
NTU is home to various leading research centres including the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N). Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
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.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL), and seven industry partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop the AquaPolis Programme.
The AquaPolis Programme is an initiative under Singapore Food Story R&D Programme 2.0. It envisions Singapore as a leading research and innovation cluster for sustainable tropical aquaculture. The aim is to gather local and overseas aquaculture researchers and industry partners to foster strategic synergies in developing innovative and sustainable solutions while cultivating talent for the industry’s workforce.
AquaPolis will capitalise on the technical, operational and research expertise of strategic partners to achieve translational R&D results, in improving the productivity and competitiveness of our local farms towards Singapore’s “30 by 30” food security goal.
This goal aims to build the agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030. Beyond local production, the developed solutions and innovations may also be relevant to agri-food industries in other regional countries and contribute to sustainable food practices and enhance our food security, particularly in the light of climate change.
The MoU demonstrates the shared commitment of SFA, NUS, and TLL in R&D collaboration, and exchanges with industry partners on the knowledge of cultivation and intensification of sustainable aquaculture production in Singapore.
The MoU was jointly signed by the Chief Executive Officer of SFA; the Deputy President (Research and Technology) of NUS; the Chief Executive Officer of TLL as well as major heads from the seven industry partners.
The Chief Executive Officer of SFA stated that the agency welcomes the strategic collaboration. He noted that it is exciting to see R&D talents from local and overseas institutions as well as our key industry partners, coming together with innovation and sustainability in mind, to build Singapore’s capabilities and capacity in aquaculture within Singapore and beyond.
The aquaculture industry plays a key role in Singapore and the world’s food security, and the leader is confident that these collective efforts will strengthen food security and build a resilient food future for Singapore.
The Deputy President (Research and Technology) of NUS stated that the University is excited to host the AquaPolis Programme. The University looks forward to collaborating closely with the Singapore Food Agency and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory to co-create innovative research solutions to address challenges in tropical aquaculture.
The Chief Executive Officer of TLL stated that AquaPolis represents a milestone in Singapore’s 20-year journey to bring together partners, with a vision to transform our aquatic food systems to be more sustainable and resilient for a growing population considering global climate changes.
The Lab looks forward, together with SFA and NUS in partnership with the industry partners, to help lay the foundation for research-based innovation to address challenges faced by the industry today and to nurture the next generation of aquaculture champions to benefit all consumers in Singapore.
SFA will be uplifting the aquaculture industry in the coming years through the Singapore Aquaculture Plan (SAP). Through the SAP, SFA will focus on productive and sustainable production and unlock the full potential of sea-based fish farming.
- Unlocking new spaces through sea space tenders and longer leases;
- Supporting the aquaculture sector to transform into one that is highly productive, climate-resilient and resource-efficient using technology and adopting appropriate farm management methods. These include conducting environmental surveys and water and seabed quality surveys to better inform farm management;
- Supporting research and innovation for sustainable tropical aquaculture through leveraging on SFA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre.
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.