OpenGov interviewed Mr. Makoto Shibata, Principal Analyst & Head of Global Innovation Team – Digital Innovation Division, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), Japan. BTMU is Japan's largest bank and one of the world's largest, with offices throughout Japan and in 40 other countries. The bank serves as the core retail, corporate, and investment banking arm of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG).
Mr. Makoto Shibata has been involved in financial technology research and development for almost 20 years, since long before the term FinTech was coined.
He and his team work to identify emerging technologies and evaluate how to utilise them for business in different environments and markets. In some cases, the team will develop proofs-of-concept. Once it becomes a full-scale project, it is handed over to people engaged in that project. When it becomes a full service or product, it will be handed over to people on the business side.
The innovation team also engages with outside players and considers possible collaborations.
We asked Mr. Shibata for his take on the FinTech landscape in Japan. He replied that in Japan FinTech has been a buzzword since 2015. He said, “Singapore has been very aggressive in expanding the FinTech community, Hong Kong is also trying to promote FinTech – maybe Japan is a little behind but definitely the startup community, financial institutions and regulators, all the stakeholders are becoming very active.”
The central bank, Bank of Japan, has created the FinTech Center. Regulators have started discussing regulatory reforms. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has created a study group, recognising that FinTech may become an industry area to boost Japan’s economic growth.
Financial institutions are creating dedicated teams. They are organising contests and establishing accelerator programmes. They have also started investing in FinTech startups. The number of startups is increasing and investment activities are expanding.
Mr. Shibata listed three technologies which could have a big impact on the financial industry over the next few years.
The first is Artificial Intelligence (AI). With the expansion of AI, there would be scope for technology to replace the human decision-making process and improve processing efficiencies.
Big data analytics is another important area, where the use of customer data to improve the quality of service offerings would be critical to the next generation of financial services.
Third is Blockchain. Mr. Shibata said that it may change the infrastructure of financial services in many ways. Now most financial infrastructure is created on a centralised database type of approach. But that may change with the advent of Distributed Ledger Technology.
Innovation at MUFG
In 2014, MUFG opened its first innovation centre in Silicon Valley in San Francisco. Another office was set up in New York two years later to incubate ideas and leverage on the latest trends. Now MUFG also has an innovation centre in Singapore. Mr. Shibata coordinates the research conducted by these teams.
The Group has been organising events aimed at engaging start-ups, such as the FinTech Challenge 2015, a “Bring your own Bank” hackathon in 2016 and the MUFG FinTech Accelerator programme in 2016.
In 2015, MUFG introduced robots into the workforce with the pilot of the MUFG NAO robot in branch offices to interact with customers. Smartphone applications were rolled out, including one that answered basic service questions (“MAI – Virtual Assistant”). If the customers cannot get satisfactory answers within a couple of interactions, then they are transferred to a call centre so they can get human assistance. Similar Q&A service was offered on popular messenger app LINE. They also created an app which allows for the opening of customer accounts without stepping into a branch (MUFG Smart Account Opening App).
MUFG expects to expand the use of robotic process automation (RPA) to drive efficiency gains in operations, automating previously time-consuming manual processes.
MUFG has also been actively exploring the applications of Blockchain. In Singapore, BTMU initiated a proof-of-concept for digitalisation of cheques using blockchain technology. In Tokyo, MUFG has been working on blockchain with the Japan Exchange Group (JPX operates multiple securities exchanges including Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Securities Exchange) to test the security transactions.
MUFG conducted the proofs-of-concept with other large banks on fund transfer. MUFG has also been working on its own virtual currency called MUFG COIN for internal usage, hoping to expand it to an actual product in the future.
In the US, MUFG has invested in Coinbase, a virtual currency exchange operator in order to learn from their expertise in trading virtual currency. MUFG is also working with blockchain startup Chain on a Proof-Of-Concept (POC) around the exchange of promissory notes.
Responding to our question on how long it might take for these blockchain initiatives to translate into products and services, Mr. Shibata outlined certain challenges in current blockchain technology. For example, bitcoin has limitations in terms of processing speed and transaction volume. There are also issues on the legal treatment of bitcoin in different legal jurisdiction and its standardisation.
“We still need to work out some of the technical, legal and practical business issues. Financial institutions are working on it. With the rapid pace of technological changes the issues may be sorted. We may see new areas of applications on a limited basis here and there from now on. But in order to see major transitions from existing financial infrastructure to blockchain may have to wait a couple of years to happen,” Mr. Shibata explained.
Security and privacy
We asked Mr. Shibata about security and privacy concerns in managing data. He said that security is a major challenge while creating any service. Being the largest commercial bank in Japan, MUFG is often targeted by criminals and cyber attackers. Cyber security protection has to be integrated into new products and services.
There could be concerns that the private data is used for purposes different from what it was given for. The bank has to make sure that it explains clearly to customers how and for what is the data being used. Transparency is critical.
Differences in regulatory and legal environments
With the expansion of the Internet, people have access to information throughout the world. But there are differences in the way regulatory schemes are created in different countries. A type of product or service which operates in one jurisdiction may not be applicable in another geographical location.
Mr. Shibata said, “Being a global financial institution, we need to be aware of these differences. There are discussions that regulatory authorities need to coordinate for regulations on new products and services.”
Challenges, changes, collaborations
Mr. Shibata said that speed is one big challenge that large financial institutions are facing. Large banks, financial institutions feel that they may not be fast enough to catch up with new players like startups or technology companies. Being a large organisation, the decision-making process may not be fast enough to match up with the startups. On top of that, they have the burden of legacy infrastructure.
Banks are also subject to regulation on every aspect of products and services. Startups might not have to bear similar regulatory burdens.
So, we asked Mr. Shibata about the role of large, established global financial institutions like MUFG and the role of startups in the development of FinTech. He replied that large financial institutions have earned the trust of customers through their long experiences in providing financial services. So, the best possible way might be for these institutions to collaborate with the startups with creative, innovative ideas.
Mr. Shibata said that of course, the new players may be able to offer services by themselves. But they can leverage off the existing huge customer base and trust that large banks enjoy. And the large banks can offer better services to their customers.
Finally, we circled back to the automation Mr. Shibata had mentioned earlier in the interview. There are concerns over the loss of jobs. We asked for his views on the subject. He replied that some job loss would occur in the long run in operations and branch work. But employees would be able to dedicate their time for higher value addition activities, for example, talking to clients, consulting and giving advice, not just answering very simple questions or doing paperwork.
Mr. Shibata said, “There will be unavoidable structural changes as a consequence of automation but we would find the way to have adjustment in order to provide better opportunities for existing employees working in more creative or value adding areas.”
Singapore and the United Kingdom held the 7th UK Singapore Financial Dialogue, where they renewed their commitment to deepening their financial partnership, which was agreed upon in 2021. They also discussed sustainable finance, fintech, and innovation.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge, which is based on an agreement signed in 2016, which removes barriers to fintech trade by opening new regular talks between regulators and businesses. The FinTech Bridge will build on the active interest of fintech players in the areas of payments, regulatory technology, and wealth management. It will also provide a structured engagement that will aid the development of policy actions, enhance assessments of emerging issues, such as the development of distributed ledger technologies and data sharing, and support trade and investment flow between respective markets.
According to a press release, the countries recognised the importance of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), which was signed earlier this year. They exchanged views on recent developments in the fintech sector, including advancements in crypto-assets, and agreed on priority areas for further cooperation. They shared their latest assessments of market developments, opportunities, trends, and longer-term expectations for the crypto-assets sector.
Further, the risks and challenges relating to financial stability and regulatory arbitrage were discussed. They shared their progress in strengthening rules on consumer protection and developing the regulation of stablecoins. Both sides agreed there is a strong need to support the safe development of a digital assets ecosystem while ensuring that risks posed by digital assets are consistently managed.
They will continue to actively participate in the shaping of robust global regulatory practices through engagement within international multilateral fora such as the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
Regarding digital payments, Singapore provided updates on the progress of its review of e-wallet caps and the expected next steps. The event covered the recently released consultation, with the UK providing views on the key proposals. Singapore also updated on the new digital banks that recently launched their operations in Singapore.
Moreover, the sides have agreed to a roadmap for activities in sustainable finance, fintech and innovation, and other areas of mutual interest, leading up to the next Dialogue scheduled to take place in London in 2023.
The Financial Dialogue was co-chaired by the Deputy Managing Director (Markets and Development) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Leong Sing Chiong, and the Director General (Financial Services) of HM Treasury (HMT), Gwyneth Nurse.
Two industry-led UK-Singapore business roundtables on sustainable finance and FinTech took place on 24 November 2022. Industry participants from both countries participated in this discussion. The sustainable finance Roundtable examined the implementation challenges faced by corporates in meeting their net zero targets, and how the financial industry could help to address these challenges. The FinTech Roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by FinTech firms, and how these firms could better access overseas markets, including by partnering with financial institutions.
The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has inaugurated a Digital India start-up hub at the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) centre in Davanagere, Karnataka. According to a press release, this is the 63rd STPI centre in the country and the fifth in the state of Karnataka. STPIs are autonomous bodies under MeitY, established to encourage, promote, and boost software exports from India. They fuel a culture of tech entrepreneurship and innovation in the country.
The state government had provided 10,000 square feet of built-up space in the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) Regional Centre to establish the STPI. Among other facilities, the centre has a plug-n-play 102-seater incubation facility, network operations centre (NOC), 16-seater conference room, 32-seater cafeteria and provisions for high-speed data communication facilities, and other amenities for export of software and services.
Speaking at the event, Chandrasekhar said that STPI, Davangere will usher in new opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship for the people in the region. Over the past few years, the government’s emphasis has been on the growth of information technology (IT), IT-enabled services (ITeS), and the electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM) industries in newer cities. This should not be confined to the metropolitan centres, he noted.
STPI centres across the state have IT exports of US $35 billion while just Karnataka state exports more than US $70 billion each year. India has the fastest-growing innovation system with more than 80,000 start-ups and over 107 unicorns, Chandrasekhar said. “We have assumed the presidency of the G20, a league of [the] world’s largest economies, and the GPAI an international initiative on artificial intelligence. It is the fastest growing major economy that has surpassed the UK to emerge as [the] fifth largest economy, receiving its highest ever FDIs of US $83 billion,” he explained.
India aims to transform its electronics production sector into a US $300 billion electronics manufacturing powerhouse by 2026. In August, Chandrasekhar launched a report that detailed how India can achieve this electronics production target and an export target of US $120 billion over the next few years. The report is titled, ‘Globalise to Localise: Exporting at Scale and Deepening the Ecosystem are Vital to Higher Domestic Value Addition’. It was prepared by the India Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), in collaboration with the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).
As OpenGov Asia reported, to achieve its targets, the government has emphasised strengthening the country’s domestic manufacturing ecosystem to make it more resilient to supply chain disruptions. The aim is to emerge as a reliable and trusted partner in global value chains. The report postulates that the country must export aggressively to reach the scale in electronics manufacturing. “In addition to domestic production, and supplies and domestic consumption, the exports are [an] important way to get the scales of the other economies that are competing with us,” Chandrasekhar said. Exports will create a network effect of creating supply chain interests, and supply chain investments that in turn will increase value addition in the Indian electronics segment.
The global spread of COVID-19 has been a disaster of unparalleled proportions. Not only has it halted the world economy, but it has also made even the most optimistic leaders reconsider how soon things would return to how they were before the outbreak.
Even as the pandemic disrupted businesses and services around the world, a sudden and dramatic increase in internet consumption was observed. Businesses had to shift to digital communications and tools as the key medium for maintaining productive and interesting relationships with their many stakeholders – internal and external.
While the private sector was quicker to alter procedures in the early phases of the pandemic, the public eventually successfully adapted and innovated to continue citizen service delivery. Of course, early on, most governments rapidly put into place digital communication and emergency response platforms.
By allowing users to access their data and applications from any internet-connected device, cloud computing expands the scope of digital transformation beyond simple technology adoption to encompass a comprehensive redesign of all related procedures, resources and user interactions.
The cloud and digital transformation are now inextricably linked. Organisations across the board need to adopt a cloud-first strategy if they want to ensure the longevity of their operations and realise their transformation objectives.
Most organisations and agencies have benefited from the digital change, but some industries are behind the curve. To keep up with the fierce competition in their industries, they must guarantee the reliable operation of the cloud communication platforms that serve as a direct line of contact between the organisations and their consumers and aid in the promotion of their offerings.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 25 November 2022 at M Hotel Singapore provided Singapore’s public, education, financial and healthcare sectors with the advantages of the most recent cloud technology.
Simplifying Things via Cloud Communication
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia believes that the cloud has transformed the way organisations communicate, cooperate and carry out many other critical business and service functions.
Cloud communications are voice and data communications solutions that organisations employ to manage cloud-hosted applications, storage and switching.
“Cloud communications services are becoming an increasingly intrinsic choice for organisations looking to streamline their operations and enable their remote workforces to stay connected and productive,” observes Mohit.
Cloud communications enable organisations to interact with their employees and customers over many channels, including email, audio calls, chat and video. All of these leverage internet-based connectivity to minimise faulty connections and lag in communication.
This communication model has become the go-to option for addressing the growing need for efficient internal communications in the hybrid workplace. As numerous workers are returning to the office, and for many of those who have remote work capabilities, hybrid work arrangements are swiftly becoming the new standard.
Organisations are figuring out ways to make hybrid work as interesting and effective as they can. Leaning into what is working, changing what is not working and adapting as lessons are gained are the first steps in creating an effective hybrid strategy, work environment, and culture.
Employee access to the system from anywhere on any device is the need of a mixed work environment. Regardless of the apparatus they are using or their location, employees need to be able to connect to the system.
“User-friendly features in cloud communications make it simpler for staff to become used to the technology,” Mohit explains. “Up until now, better work-life balance, more effective time management, control over working hours and location, prevention of burnout and higher productivity have been the main benefits of hybrid work.”
Having the appropriate tools to be productive at work, feeling less a part of the organisation’s culture, poor cooperation and relationships, and disturbing work processes are some of the biggest obstacles to hybrid work.
Apart from the initial expenditure, virtual meetings result in reduced expenses because of the decline in maintenance and transportation costs. Moreover, integrations of cloud telephony enable companies to place and receive calls from any device that is connected to the Internet.
This means that cloud communications can potentially maximise resources for organisations. Procedures, implementation and adaptability can all be accelerated with a cloud communications strategy, which also offers limitless high-volume information transmission.
According to Mohit, cloud communications must have robust security components to ensure compliance with data privacy laws and the security of all stakeholders. “To assist in safeguarding data in the cloud, emerging cybersecurity tools should also be taken into account.”
These include Artificial Intelligence (AI) for IT Operations (AIOps) and Network Detection and Response (NDR). Both programmes gather data on the security and stability of cloud infrastructure. After data analysis, AI notifies administrators of any unusual behaviour that might represent a threat.
Ultimately a well-thought-out cloud communication strategy with strong security features can serve organisations and gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly digital landscape and VUCA environment.
According to Lucas Lu, Head of Asia, Zoom, if communication fails to give the greatest possible experience, everyone suffers – from employees to consumers to investors. And neglecting to address this essential avenue has ever-worsening implications.
Organisations are going through some significant changes, he explains. The first is in the general business environment. Organisations are under tremendous pressure to boost efficiency, adapt fast as competition rises and keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainties. Furthermore, solving these problems requires effective communication between consumers, prospects and staff.
The workforce is likewise seeing a paradigm shift. People desire the option of remote employment and are asking for the cutting-edge equipment and communication systems they need to do their jobs.
HR managers concur that a high-performing workplace’s future requirements would include collaboration, regular communication and a mentorship culture between managers and teams. “You run the risk of losing the ‘War for Talent’ if you don’t deliver,” Lucas asserts.
With every new tool and software that is made available, communication becomes more difficult and complex. Employees, clients and potential consumers are just a few of the stakeholders who have preferences and expectations about how, when and where they conduct business.
Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication. They follow a variety of routes, including:
- Maintaining already-established systems that are deemed adequate
- Making use of the fundamental, built-in communication capabilities that are provided with other software packages, even if they don’t entirely satisfy the organisation’s demands
- Using different approaches based on the circumstances. You might, for instance, employ one communication tool for internal cooperation and another for clients, investors, and outside events
“All these strategies are meant to provide organisations with fundamental communication,” says Lucas. “These methods provide some flexibility, but they also change the environment for prospects, employees and consumers. People are compelled to alternate between various options based on their needs as a result.”
This causes unneeded annoyance, rework, expenditures and misunderstanding. Employees may feel alienated and impatient. Customers’ interactions with the brand are disorganised and unprofessional. And various instruments frequently make business slower.
In this uncertain business environment, organisations that can move beyond basic communication into universal communication have extraordinary potential. They can develop intuitive connections to all parties, employees, customers and investors, regardless of location, technology or business activity.
This will be accomplished by integrating the individual and organisational connection demands that will result in a) Delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, b) Making human connection effortless, and c) Enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance.
These results may:
- Satisfy both the primary business requirements and the consumers’ expectations
- Redirect internal resources from managing communications to new services and capabilities; and
- Increase the marketability and perceived agility within the organisation and in the market.
An organisation’s reputation is directly related to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients and customers can work remotely, those returning to the office do not t want to compromise on the at-home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment to guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location. Expectations are simply greater and it is unacceptable if a session fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio or video.
“With Zoom, you may use a top-notch infrastructure that is specially made to prevent failures to safeguard your company from communications disruptions. You eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this,” Lucas says confidently.
When communications are down nowadays, it is impossible to conduct business. Hence, organisations may provide a controlled experience by enabling their staff to work without being concerned about the underlying technology. Additionally, they can analyse the underlying cause of any problems in their surroundings and take preventative measures.
With this, employees can concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or ambiguity and will have faith that the communication solution their organisation has deployed will work as planned.
“Partnering with Zoom enables quick innovation to keep up with the times. You can take advantage of a constant flow of fresh features that correspond to actual user requirements,” Lucas says. “Moreover, by frequently communicating with their support group, organisations will rapidly realise what is possible.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
Geetha Gopal, Head of Infrastructure Projects Delivery and Digital Transformation, Panasonic Asia Pacific believes that every day, new technologies emerge and the culture of change is driving a paradigm shift for which an organisation must be prepared.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak rocked the world and we were unsure of what to do, our investments in technology became our strength,” says Geetha.
As the trend toward digitisation of remote work transforms the traditional office culture, a cloud culture has evolved. Likewise, cloud computing has become a competitive advantage for these organisations.
Every step toward better efficiency in the manufacturing sector increases competitiveness. Because of this, the industry’s embrace of cloud communications has become a crucial turning point. Cloud communications have changed the game for manufacturing by enabling increased efficiency while lowering IT expenditures.
“Cloud computing is the future, and organisations are successfully transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture,” Geetha says firmly.
Streamlining operations using scalable technological solutions for essential tasks and process optimisation not only helps reduce costs but also frees up time for businesses to devote to value-adding endeavours.
This is crucial now more than ever as operations teams struggle to keep up with the quickening speed of product and investment strategy development being observed among clients.
The new service-focused, client-centric operating model for investment operations will be made possible by technology, data and scalability. Organisations need to realise that the greatest way to prepare for the future is to create it as they deal with this period of constant innovation.
As a result, operations leaders who are taking steps to redesign, reinvent and adapt their operations may ultimately be in a stronger position.
Geetha emphasises that collaboration, communication and connectivity are crucial for success in today’s work environment. The key to maximising these contacts is digital communication. “For efficient communication and productivity, your company primarily depends on specific systems, platforms, and applications.”
More organisations are understanding the enormous advantages of migrating their systems to the cloud as technology continues to progress. In addition to allowing organisations to remain relevant in a competitive market, innovation plays a vital role in economic growth. Innovations are required to solve key problems.
One of the tactics that may be employed to save money while maximising organisational resources and extending communication skills and reach is advance planning.
An advantage of cloud communications for aiding staff members in a hybrid workforce is the reduction in time spent travelling to the workplace. Employees can save time travelling with the hybrid model simultaneously offering the chance to be more productive.
Despite the importance of enabling technology, it is the human workforce that will not only execute the organisation’s digital transformation strategy but also ensure its long-term success.
Guaranteeing that personnel are up to the task, however, needs not only technical training but also a radical transformation in thinking and decision-making.
It is important to focus on organisational culture by changing the management programme and making concerted efforts to close the gap between the internal aspect and employees.
Organisations that are unable to develop and achieve new goals that will assist their employees and business to thrive are those that are unwilling to alter existing practices.
“The pandemic can no longer be an excuse or the reason – remote work is here to stay. If we want skilled employees then we need to concentrate on their needs – we must empower our employees,” Geetha concludes.
Lucas believes that every problem has a solution since most organisations fail to connect their strategy to their innovation objectives. “Change is a constant process, and what we say today might leave a legacy tomorrow. Any plan for digital transformation, in our opinion, must be built around digital innovation.”
The road of digital transformation must involve a competitive advantage that can only be sustained by introducing innovations and contemporary methods if it is to stay modern and please clients with cutting-edge goods and services.
For every change, there is a call for managerial backing to be successful and transformative. Zoom is happy to discuss how digital transformation budgets differ from traditional business or IT budgets to meet the demands of any organisation.
Lucas believes that cloud computing is transforming not only how many organisations access and store data, but also how many of these businesses run. It provides greater protection, flexibility, data recovery, minimal to no maintenance and ease of access.
“Although many people used to hesitate the cloud computing, they have now realised how important it has become to organisations,” Lucas has observed.
Mohit believes that changes in computers and how technologies are distributed are altering the ecosystem, especially for those who work in a hybrid environment. He encourages delegates to start establishing a strategy to utilise the cloud’s benefits for their businesses and services. “Organisations should determine the types of cloud services for which you require solutions, then meet with cloud service providers to determine the best long-term match.”
Both public and private organisations benefit from the adaptability, efficiency, scalability, security, improved collaboration and cost savings that cloud computing offers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, but it is anticipated that cloud computing is here to stay, especially since hybrid work assumes a central role,” Mohit concludes.
India ranked 61st in the recently released Network Readiness Index 2022 (NRI). The report ranks a total of 131 economies that collectively account for almost 95% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). The United States ranked first place as the most network-ready society. The report is titled ‘Stepping into the new digital era: how and why digital natives will shape the world’.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Communications, this year, India jumped six places. It ranked 11th within Asia and the Pacific. Further, the country not only increased its ranking but improved its score from 49.74 in 2021 to 51.19 in 2022. Apart from placing first in AI talent concentration, the country has done well in mobile broadband Internet traffic within the country, international Internet bandwidth, and annual investment in telecommunication services and domestic market size. Its ICT services exports ranked fourth, followed by FTTH/building Internet subscriptions and AI scientific publications. The country’s weakest indicators were happiness, online access to financial accounts, and the gender gap in Internet use.
As per the report, India has greater network readiness than expected, given its income level. The nation scores higher than the income group average in all pillars and sub-pillars. It said the country’s main strength relates to people and the greatest scope for improvement concerns governance.
Major progress was made by Singapore, which jumped from the seventh position to ranking second in this year’s index, pushing Denmark (6th) and Finland (7th) out of the top 5. The other five countries that made up the top ten included Sweden (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), Switzerland (5th), Germany (8th), the Republic of Korea (9th), and Norway (10th). The ranking is based on each country’s performance in technology, people, governance, and impact, covering 58 variables.
Recently, to secure digital data, the government, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), announced it would discuss various aspects of digital personal data and its protection. It has formulated a draft bill titled ‘The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022’. As OpenGov Asia reported, the purpose of the draft Bill is to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes.
The Ministry has invited feedback from the public on the draft Bill. The submissions will not be disclosed and held in a fiduciary capacity, to enable people submitting feedback to provide the same freely. The government has said no public disclosure of the submissions will be made. The government said the draft Bill uses simple language, allowing citizens to understand it easily. It is accessible on the Ministry’s website, along with an explanatory note that provides a brief overview of its provisions.
At the Launch Ceremony of the national system of Policy Research Centre for Innovation and Technology (PReCIT)” as one of the PolyU’s 85th Anniversary celebratory events, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) hosted the “Forum on Integrating I&T into GBA. PReCIT is a University-level interdisciplinary policy research centre with the aspiration to be the leading I&T think tank in Hong Kong and the region.
Some 300 staff, students, alumni, leaders from I&T, finance, academia and guests gathered to exchange views on how Hong Kong can proactively integrate into the Nation’s development plan.
The Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, HKSAR Government stated that the new Policy Research Centre for Innovation and Technology will play a key role in facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration for more impactful research, in the I&T field.
PolyU’s President stated the establishment of PReCIT is just another timely step taken by the University to respond to key national strategies that unleash unlimited opportunities for Hong Kong’s future development.
The Vice President (Research and Innovation) and Director of PReCIT introduced the Centre’s background and three major research foci – carbon-neutral cities, the Greater Bay Area I&T development, and the Belt and Road Initiative development in Southeast Asia, with a view to dovetailing with the National 14th Five Year Plan in supporting Hong Kong to develop into an international I&T hub.
He stated that the respective strengths of Hong Kong and the mainland must complement each other in deliberation on cross‑boundary integration proposals which aim to foster R&D commercialisation to unleash the potentials of the GBA and Belt and Road economies as well as the opportunity associated with re‑industrialisation. To achieve this, a cross‑boundary policy on I&T cooperation including regarding the flows of I&T material, capital, data and people between Hong Kong and mainland provinces is needed. PReCIT, as the advocacy body of PolyU, endeavours to formulate strategies that support Hong Kong’s participation in the national pioneering technology missions.
The Co-Founder of the Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians; the President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences; the Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries; and the Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute, Our Hong Kong Foundation, were invited to share their insights, ahead of the announcement of the Hong Kong I&T Development Blueprint, in the panel discussion session moderated by
The Co-Founder of the Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians shared his experiences in cooperating with the innovation and technology sector on the mainland. He reiterated that it is important for the HKSAR government to work together with stakeholders, especially experts and the capital market, to advance I&T development.
The President of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences called on the government to set an R&D policy direction that supports the Nation’s development. He also suggested Hong Kong and other cities in the GBA together establish an intellectual property exchange platform for university researchers to present their research outcomes and attract further funding.
Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries explained how Hong Kong serves as an industrial and I&T headquarters in connecting the GBA and ASEAN for research commercialisation and empowering advanced manufacturing, capitalising on the City’s strengths in the industry chain and as a financial centre.
The Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute, Our Hong Kong Foundation stressed that joint cross-border policy initiatives are needed to overcome barriers to deepening market access and facilitating movements of factors of production.
Finally, the Head of the Department of Applied Social Sciences and Co-Director of PReCIT concluded that concerted effort from all sectors of the community is essential to provide a sustainable and supportive environment for high-calibre and potential I&T talents to be persuaded to stay in Hong Kong.
Hybrid networking took place in Hai Phong city earlier this week, connecting Vietnamese and Republic of Korean (RoK) businesses with the supply capacity and demand for technology. The event was co-organised by the municipal Department of Science and Technology and the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA Hanoi). Many participants joined remotely from the RoK’s Incheon, Gyeonggi, Busan, and Seoul.
At the event, more than 50 networking sessions were scheduled to introduce a series of technologies such as dry ice blasting for industrial cleaning, product error detection technology to control and monitor the production process, and solutions for smart factories and machinery manufacturing.
According to the Department, the organisation of the networking was based on a survey of demand from more than 100 Vietnamese firms, most of whom lauded the RoK’s sci-tech products for their diversity and easy application. The Director of the department, Tran Quang Tuan, noted that applying science, technology, and innovation is an important role in business development, as the world and Vietnam no longer rely on available resources and advantages such as land and labour for economic growth.
This year, the department organised four networking events to connect Vietnamese enterprises to their peers from Taiwan, Israel, Japan, and the RoK. As a result, more than 200 working sessions between the sides took place and over 50 foreign technological solutions found customers in Vietnam.
In October, a Republic of Korea-Vietnam digital transformation forum was organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the RoK Ministry of Science and ICT (MIST), as part of Vietnam International Digital Week. Vietnamese and Korean information technology enterprises shared digital transformation solutions in manufacturing industries at the forum.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the Director of the Authority of Radio Frequency Management suggested that businesses from RoK share their experiences in the implementation of digital transformation with their Vietnamese counterparts. He said that digital transformation is one of the breakthrough strategic solutions implemented by the Vietnamese government. One of the key targets of the country’s digital transformation is to put peoples’ and businesses’ activities on digital platforms and encourage businesses to use digital technologies, especially those relating to artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms to improve productivity and operational efficiency.
Digital technology and digital transformation will enhance administrative reform, help people access public services more easily and conveniently, and bring the government closer to the people. That is the basic goal of Vietnam’s digital transformation.
In 2020, Vietnam approved a National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025, with an orientation toward 2030. The strategy helps accelerate digital transformation through changes in awareness, enterprise strategies, and incentives toward the digitalisation of businesses, administration, and production activities.
The programme targets businesses, cooperatives, and business households that want to adopt digital transformation to improve their production, business efficiency, and competitiveness. The plan aims to have 80% of public services at level 4 online. Over 90% of work records at ministerial and provincial levels will be online while 80% of work records at the district level and 60% of work records at the commune level will be processed online.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a method to transform wastepaper from cardboard boxes and single-use packaging into a vital component of lithium-ion batteries.
The NTU researchers used a process called carbonisation, which turns paper into pure carbon, to transform the paper’s fibres into electrodes that can be used to create rechargeable batteries for electric cars, medical equipment, and mobile devices.
Paper is used in many aspects of daily life, from gift wrapping and crafts to a wide range of industrial uses, including heavy-duty packaging, protective wrapping, and the filling of voids in construction, according to Assistant Professor Lai Changquan of NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and the project’s coordinator.
However, besides incineration, which produces high levels of carbon emissions because of its composition, not much is done to manage it when it is disposed of. “Our method to give kraft paper another lease of life, funnelling it into the growing need for devices such as electric vehicles and smartphones, would not only help cut down on carbon emissions but would also ease the reliance on mining and heavy industrial methods,” says Ass Prof Lai.
The team heated the paper to high temperatures to carbonise it, which turns it into pure carbon, water vapour and oils that can be used to make biofuel. As carbonisation occurs in the absence of oxygen and produces very little carbon dioxide, it is a more environmentally friendly method of disposal for kraft paper than incineration, which releases a lot of greenhouse gases.
The carbon anodes created by the research team also demonstrated superior durability, flexibility, and electrochemical properties. According to laboratory tests, the anodes are at least twice as durable as the anodes in today’s phone batteries and could withstand 1,200 charges and discharges.
The NTU-produced anode-based batteries could withstand physical stress better than their rivals, absorbing crushing energy up to five times better. In comparison to current industrial techniques for producing battery anodes, the NTU-developed method also employs less energy-intensive processes and heavy metals. This newest technique, which uses a cheap waste material, is anticipated to lower the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries because the anode accounts for 10% to 15% of their overall cost.
Using wastepaper as the raw material for battery anodes would also reduce reliance on traditional carbon sources, such as carbonaceous fillers and carbon-yielding binders, which are mined and then processed with harsh chemicals and machinery.
In 2020, paper waste, which includes discarded paper bags, cardboard, newspaper, and other paper packaging, comprised nearly one-fifth of the waste generated in Singapore. A separate 2020 NTU study discovered that kraft paper bags, which account for most of Singapore’s paper waste, have large environmental footprints when compared to cotton and plastic counterparts, due to their greater contribution to global warming when incinerated and the eco-toxicity potential in their production.
The current innovation, which provides an opportunity to upcycle waste products and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while accelerating our transition to a circular economy, green materials, and clean energy, reflects NTU’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact, which is one of four grand challenges that the University seeks to address through its NTU 2025 strategic plan.
The NTU team will carry out additional research to increase the material’s capacity for storing energy and lower the amount of heat energy needed to turn paper into carbon.