Malaysia recently tabled its Budget for 2020. The Budget charts the economic direction of the nation. Broadly speaking, it places more focus on building a digital economy.
The CEO of MDEC, the agency responsible for driving Malaysia’s digital economy, noted in a media statement that the Malaysia Budget 2020 marks an inflection point in the Government’s steering of the Digital Economy.
No digital economic agenda is complete without having fintech as the backbone to power its commerce. Hence, it made sense that this year’s budget places emphasis on fintech compared to the previous years.
Many in the public sphere gravitated towards the announcement that the Malaysian government is attempting to boost the use of e-wallets by offering a one-time RM30 stimulus to Malaysians below the age of 18 earning less than RM100,000.
Commenting on the stimulus, one expert stated that the Government’s e-wallet stimulus initiative will also greatly drive the adoption of e-wallets as an exceedingly convenient method of payment for consumers. Importantly, it can also be viewed as a form of endorsement of the technology used which is safe and very secure for financial transactions.
Besides the e-wallet stimulus, there were, of course, other fintech-related announcements that got many in the industry excited, chief among them was the timeline announcement for the virtual banking framework. It is a much-anticipated piece of regulation that will pave the way for a new breed of banks in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s Finance Minister stated that the virtual banking framework will be ready for public consultation by end of this year and applications will be open by the first half of 2020.
The new budget also seems to illustrate that the administration is receptive towards alternative financings like Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) and P2P Financing.
It is confirmed that the government will allocate an additional RM50 million to the My Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) and separate RM10 Million will be allocated to the same fund specifically for social enterprises fundraising via P2P Financing platforms. Industry players are in favour of the announcement.
In a statement, it was noted that the initiative will boost the alternative financing industry and Malaysia as a whole. This is the second time that the government has allocated RM50 million to co-invest at a 1 to 4 ratio for ECF and P2P Financing Platforms.
This practical support will not only help to fund creditworthy SMEs but also bring awareness to the public about ECF and P2P Financing — a much need platform to help SMEs grow.
The government has also announced that it will be formulating an Islamic Economic Blueprint and that it will be setting up a Special Islamic Finance Committee to position Malaysia as a centre of excellence for Islamic Finance.
While it is not specifically targeted a fintech, experts anticipate that those who are operating within the Islamic fintech space will also likely benefit from the new policies.
All in all, both the public and private sectors appear pleased that the government increasingly recognising the important role that fintech plays in society. More fintech-friendly policies are eagerly awaited from the government of the day.
Slips, trips, and falls (STF) are the leading source of severe injuries in the workplace. Daily, over a million workers across the world suffer injuries from slips and trips, which are the most frequent causes. Early identification of STF risks is essential for improving workplace safety and health, especially in industries such as construction, maritime, manufacturing, transportation, and storage.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Biomedical Engineering have collaborated with an NUS start-up to develop a smart insole that can track workplace STFs in real time. It is the first of its kind that can detect a person’s balance. The insole enables companies to identify the location of an incident and highlight STF risk areas so that appropriate measures can be taken to minimise these hazards. The insole can also be custom fitted where necessary through foot scanning and 3D printing production.
According to a statement by NUS, the smart insole uses sensors to monitor foot pressure and an inertial measurement unit sensor to measure changes in motion. When an STF occurs, the body will initially try to maintain balance by exerting pressure on the feet to break the STF. The smart insole identifies these changes in pressure exerted by the feet, and a person’s orientation, to determine if an STF has occurred.
These pressure and motion changes due to an STF are then recorded and measured in real-time to generate balance profiles of different users. This will help employers assess which workers are more suitable for various tasks. Additionally, falls from height can be detected by the smart insole as they have distinct velocity profiles compared to falls on level ground.
Data collected by the smart insole can be easily accessed by employees through a mobile application and by company management through a dashboard. The digitisation of slips, trips, and falls incidents leads to more prompt reporting and increased transparency, eliminating the need for workers or safety officers to submit manual reports.
An official from the NUS start-up explained that STFs are significant cost drivers for most companies due to a loss of productivity, medical expenses, and administrative costs. The smart insole will reduce human and financial costs before serious accidents happen.
Apart from monitoring and reporting STFs, the smart insole recognises everyday activities like walking, standing, and sitting. This enables employers to detect potentially hazardous actions like when a worker should be walking instead of running, and evaluate a worker’s sense of balance by measuring the centre of pressure.
The researchers were awarded the Maritime Innovation and Technology-STARTUP Grant by the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore in May 2022 for prototype development and test-bedding of the smart insole for worker safety. They are collaborating with the Workplace Safety and Health Institute and Association of Singapore Maritime Industries to upgrade the smart insole for the maritime sector.
The statement noted that over time, the data collected from the smart insoles worn by workers, along with other worker-related metrics, can be used to implement best workplace practices on safety and health. The team is also looking into future applications and commercialisation of the smart insole to reduce STFs in construction, aviation, and manufacturing.
According to Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan, the crypto asset industry in Indonesia is growing by nearly 50%. Based on Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (CoFTRA) data, there will be 11.2 million consumers or users of crypto assets by the end of 2021. This figure had climbed by 48.7% since the end of November 2022, when it stood at 16.55 million individuals on the market.
Surprisingly, that number is dominated by millennials aged 18 to 30. According to Coinfolk research, the six provinces in Indonesia with the highest crypto interest are Bali, DKI Jakarta, Banten, Yogyakarta, Riau Islands, and West Java.
“All of these conditions show that the potential for the crypto asset market in Indonesia is still huge, and Indonesia can become one of the world’s leaders in the crypto asset market,” Zulkifli expounded elaborated during the launch of the ‘Crypto Asset Literacy Month’ Programme in Central Jakarta.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s physical exchange for crypto assets achieved a transaction value of IDR 296.66 trillion in 2022. This figure is lower than the figure for 2021, IDR 859.4 trillion. In contrast, the transaction value in 2020 was IDR 64.9 trillion.
“Although in 2022, the value of crypto asset exchanges will cause a drop in the market, which will undergo a sluggish (bearish) stock trend, on the other hand, more and more companies, such as Meta, Google, and Twitter, are starting to merge blockchain solutions into their business operations. This demonstrates that the cryptocurrency asset exchange will expand fast this year,” he added.
The Ministry of Trade also hopes that by mid-2023, Indonesia will have a crypto asset exchange organisation that will serve as a hub for crypto asset trading. Crypto asset exchange institutions are required since it is predicted that by 2023, crypto assets will have experienced rapid expansion from the standpoint of blockchain technology, which is the foundation of crypto asset technology.
Blockchain technology, including crypto assets, is still evolving. However, the Indonesian government has attempted to keep up with these advancements by altering numerous legislations to control a fair and equitable crypto asset management environment and emphasise consumer rights. Nevertheless, CoFTRA’s authority still includes supervision and regulation of crypto asset trading as referenced in CoFTRA Regulation No. 13 of 2022, which amends CoFTRA Regulation No. 8 of 2021, which is about Guidelines for Organising Crypto Asset Physical Market Trading on Futures Exchanges.
Furthermore, to meet future difficulties in blockchain technology, such as crypto assets that may affect the financial sector, Law Number 4 of 2023, about the Development and Strengthening of the Financial Sector (UU P2SK), was adopted this year. The P2SK Law is intended to coordinate with one another and strengthen the role of ministries/institutions in the future regulation and deployment of crypto asset trade.
Because cryptocurrency asset trading is highly volatile, the government organised the ‘Crypto Asset Literacy Month’ initiative to raise awareness about the issue. The event was organised in collaboration with the Indonesian Crypto Asset Traders Association by the Ministry of Trade’s Commodity Futures Trading Supervisory Agency (Aspakrindo).
Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Trade, hopes that the ‘Crypto Asset Literacy Month’ Programme will increase literacy in crypto asset trading by providing the right and appropriate awareness in the community, ensuring the implementation of crypto asset physical market trading conforms with statutory regulations.
“Investing in crypto assets is fraught with danger. The value of crypto assets is erratic by nature, and it can see a significant gain or reduction in value in a short period. As a result, a thorough awareness of the community and the rewards, possibilities, and hazards of trading crypto assets is required. “Crypto Asset Literacy Month 2023 is undoubtedly one strategy to promote public literacy in crypto asset trading,” he concluded.
The Digital Literacy and Computational Thinking course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been developed in partnership with the Hong Kong branch of an American multinational technology corporation. The aim of the course is to increase students’ knowledge of cloud computing and strengthen their digital skills.
With the use of the tech company’s Lab Services Cloud Virtual Machine (VM) solution, CUHK is providing students with the ability to complete hands-on exercises through high-performance applications on their own devices, regardless of their device configuration, anytime and anywhere.
The course is designed to give students foundational skills in data literacy and IT processing, which are essential for success in today’s workplace. During the first year, 3,500 first-year students will have the opportunity to learn about coding and data processing in daily life. Over the next five years, this program is expected to benefit more than 16,000 individuals.
The Digital Literacy and Computational Thinking course was implemented as a core requirement in the 2022-23 academic year, and all students from all faculties are mandated to pass the three-credit course in order to graduate. The program provides hands-on training in cloud computing and other crucial areas, giving students from diverse fields of study the digital skills necessary for success in the future. This course aims to inspire students with the possibilities of technology, particularly cloud computing.
The use of the Lab Services VM solution is a crucial aspect of CUHK’s five-year plan, “CUHK 2025”. The objective of this initiative is to prepare students to “Meet Challenges of Tomorrow”. The acquisition of digital literacy and IT skills are central components of this plan.
CUHK’s Provost stated that the digital revolution will have a profound impact on society and drive economic growth in the future. He noted that the Digital Literacy and Computational Thinking course has been incorporated as a central part of the curriculum because it is deemed critical in preparing our undergraduate students for the rapidly evolving workplace of the 21st century.
By the end of the 2022-23 academic year, 3,500 first-year students will have completed the course. This represents a significant improvement to the curriculum and is the first mandatory course of its kind for university students in Hong Kong. With the support of the company, students can acquire practical skills at their own pace, which will be beneficial to their future success.
The Director of the Public Sector Group at the tech giant’s Hong Kong stated that acquiring digital literacy is a fundamental capability, and providing young talent with digital skills has been a long-standing commitment for us. She noted that over the years, the company has been dedicated to supporting local educators in transforming their teaching and learning methods with the use of its technologies and resources.
Now, they are pleased to use the Lab Services to assist CUHK in establishing its Digital Literacy and Computational Thinking course, which aims to foster students’ creativity and equip them with fundamental, future-proof digital skills.
She added that it is a privilege to be able to empower both educators and students to approach the digital future with confidence. In the future, the company aims to continue to support the education sector and promote the development of digital literacy.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) provided production technologies and system innovations to seven MSMEs in Central Luzon. The programme assisted seven MSMEs in food processing, agriculture, and metals and engineering to escalate their productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness in domestic and global markets.
The initiative was brought through Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Programme (SETUP), which continuously supports micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in The Philippines. DOST-3 Regional Director Julius Caesar Sicat said that the seven MSMEs could acquire production technologies and systems innovations as SETUP beneficiaries to upgrade their businesses. He particularly cited the case of Fiona’s Farm, which operates as a farm resort and produces tomatoes and other green leafy vegetables through an aeroponics system with high electricity consumption.
“The assistance they will be getting from SETUP is that the Fiona’s Farm will be able to switch into solar (photovoltaic) technology that will radically cut their energy cost and make their day-to-day operation more efficient,” the DOST official clarified in an interview.
Sicat cited the importance of adopting technologies to address business-related problems and encouraged the owners of the seven firms to avail of other DOST-3 services.
“The DOST would be very much willing to help them. Our engagement with each other does not end in SETUP. We also have technical consultancy training and the regional science technology laboratory (RSTL), which can help further elevate the efficiency of their businesses,” he added.
He noted that the DOST-3 had allotted a total of PHP7.4 million (US$140 thousand) as SETUP iFund for the seven MSMEs. SETUP iFund is open to manufacturing MSMEs needing technology to improve productivity and efficiency and has been operational for a minimum of three years. The assistance includes acquiring machines and equipment financed by the programme and payable in three years with no interest.
The government has streamlined the booking and payment process for Quezon City’s traditional market merchants. They will now use the Market One-Stop Shop (MOSS) portal to register for and lease spaces and booths online. According to City Administrator Michael Alimurung, the platform would pinpoint “legitimate” vendor premises that are free of barriers. It is also part of Mayor Joy Belmonte’s goal of making Quezon City a desirable commercial destination.
With the new system, the city government guarantees a simple application process for renting a stall, including payment and collection of market charges. This will also make life easier for the city treasurer’s office, as they will no longer have to collect rent in person.
The local government installed free Wi-Fi access points in barangay halls and hundreds of other public places to ensure that the new system is widely used. A caravan will be created to assist present and new vendors with registering with the platform.
The method, according to Margarita Santos, director of the Quezon City Business Permits and Licensing Office, will not substitute any roles, such as market masters or market managers, but will make their jobs simpler. She asserted that the MOSS would adopt a “first in, first out” waiting line and award a five-year lease to the first vendor registered for the space or stand. They will, however, be relegated to the bottom of the line if they do not meet the standards within a certain number of days.
Furthermore, in mid-2022, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) MIMAROPA – a district comprising of the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan – gave food-based micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) a digital boost for their businesses. DOST provided a Web-based Inventory Monitoring and Logistics Management System (WIMLMS) to expedite their operations for improving output.
The digitalisation project aims to assist MIMAROPA MSMEs in adopting digital technology capabilities to better business operations and meet customer demands. One of the project’s critical parts is creating an enterprise inventory and logistics management system.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) will organise the Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) Training Programme (US) in conjunction with Stanford University in California. Hary Budiarto, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ Human Resources Research and Development Agency chairman, declared that the collaboration would add to the list of cooperating world-class colleges.
The DLA programme was initially a collaboration between eight international campuses, including the National University of Singapore (NUS), Harvard University, Oxford University, Tsinghua University, Cornell University, Imperial College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Cambridge.
“We have partnered with eight foreign universities, and this year we are exploring a partnership with Stanford University,” he spoke at a press conference for the Kominfo Digital Talent Provision Programme at the Ministry of Communication and Information Media Centre in Central Jakarta.
According to Hary, the DLA Programme intends to include all government officials, State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN), Regional-Owned Enterprises (BUMD), private enterprises (CEO level), and digital company owners as members. Training for regional leaders, including governors, mayors, and regents, is provided by Ministry Kominfo in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ HR Development Agency (BPSDM Kemendagri). DLA will hold training and visits in 2023.
The initiative will bring 20 regional leaders to South Korea this year for international benchmarking. The Ministry of Home Affairs will define the qualifications for regional heads. They visited Singapore in 2022, and 20 regional leaders were present.
The Ministry of Kominfo, on the other hand, developed digital competence from beginner to intermediate levels for students, graduate students, and the community. The Professional Academy, Fresh Graduate Academy, Talent Scouting Academy, Vocational School Graduate Academy, Government Transformation Academy, Thematic Academy, and Digital Entrepreneurship Academy are all part of the DTS Programme.
For the Professional Academy training subject, The Ministry of Kominfo targets participants who have at least worked for the past two years. Meanwhile, the Fresh Graduate Academy is designed for recent college grads. The ministry also collaborates with the industry to fulfil its personnel needs. The training programme will continue with open job offers followed by training in a specific field. After that, they participate in apprenticeship or boot camp, after which they can contract employment with the industry.
Participants in the Vocational School Graduate Academy (VSGA) course can obtain an SKKNI-based certification. VSGA is meant for the community, with at least Vocational High School graduates eligible for D1, D2, and D4. The distinction between V FGA and VSGA is that the training is based on the Occupational Map or SKKNI, particularly for SKKNI in the communications, information technology, and telecommunications industries.
Another academy is the Talent Scouting Academy, which is meant for students as part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology’s drive for the Freedom to Learn – Independent Campus (MBKM) programme. We provide students with training, after which they return to college and can convert numerous credits, typically 10-20 credits. Our goal for the Talent Scouting Programme in 2023 is to have roughly 5,000 students.
Thematic Academies are dedicated to specific communities throughout Indonesia, such as migrant workers, individuals with disabilities, women, children, and others.
Meanwhile, the Digital Entrepreneurship Academy training programme aims to prepare students to become digital entrepreneurs. There are four curricula in the DEA training, ranging from addressing the foundations of using digital platforms to how to manage marketplaces to employing data science, big data, or AI (Artificial Intelligence) to establish business production.
We also train ASN through the Government Transformation Academy, which provides training to make them more proficient in executing public services. All these DTS training sessions are accessible to the community, students, and workers; all required is to register to participate in this training online or offline.
In the context of World Safer Internet Day, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications (MIC), Nguyen Huy Dung, highlighted the crucial role of a safe Internet in advancing progress in Vietnam. This year’s World Safer Internet Day was themed, “Want to talk about it? Making space for safe conversations about life online”.
According to MIC, over 175,000 children worldwide access the Internet daily and experience both its advantages and potential hazards. Providing children with knowledge about Internet safety and equipping them with the tools to protect themselves has become a global concern.
World Safer Internet Day aims to promote the safe use of digital technology and create positive effects on children and young people. It strives to encourage the youth, parents, teachers, police, and technology companies to work together to develop and implement initiatives that contribute to a safer online environment.
World Safer Internet Day was initiated in 1999. By 2004, many countries had joined the initiative to raise public awareness of cyber threats. The day aims to promote joining hands to fight threats from the internet, bringing people around the globe a safer online environment.
Last year, the Vietnam Network for Child Online Protection debuted its website to keep children safe online, where users can report incidents of child abuse. The Authority of Information Security, which is run by MIC, developed and deployed the website. The network is linked to 24 units, including representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Other representatives are from agencies, enterprises, and domestic and foreign organisations that specialise in child protection on the Internet.
As OpenGov Asia reported, in the ‘Opinion Expression’ section of the website users, including children, can give their ideas and suggestions, which state agencies can consider when drafting new policies and schemes. The ‘News’ section includes updated information about Internet safety for children in the country and across the world as well as the new technologies developed to keep children safe online. Meanwhile, the ‘Tools’ section offers useful suggestions and software for young users to have healthy interactions online.
Apart from contacting the Child Affairs Department’s hotline through the portal, users can also send child abuse reports. The Vietnam Network for Child Online Protection then verifies the reports and takes appropriate action. The website was launched as part of a programme approved by the Prime Minister to protect and assist children in healthy and creative interactions on the Internet. It targets preventing and handling activities that take advantage of the cyber environment to abuse children as well as promoting and maintaining a healthy Internet environment.
The website contributes to an ecosystem of useful domestic apps and products to help children learn and be entertained online. So far, the programme has introduced various initiatives, tasks, and breakthrough solutions to exploit advanced technologies like big data to collect data and deliver early warnings for any potential content that violates laws or is not suitable for children.
In 2022, Vietnam’s digital technology industry reached a total revenue of about US$ 148 billion. The revenue from Internet security products and services in 2022 hit about VND 4.85 trillion (US$ 205.5 million), 26% higher than that of 2021. Domestic information security enterprises have mastered over 95% of information security products and solutions. Many new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and virtual reality technology (AR/VR) have been applied to ‘Made in Vietnam’ information security products.
A partner company of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), which is a leading surgical robotics company, recently signed a high-level Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a longstanding clinical partner and a multispecialty private hospital in Hong Kong.
The Memorandum of Understanding will enhance the partnership between the parties, with a focus on advancing patient care, promoting technological innovations in healthcare, and fostering a culture of innovation in Hong Kong.
The two parties have a long-standing friendship, and this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) strengthens and harmonises their partnership. Over the course of a three-year consortium, they will collaborate on various significant activities, such as exchanging scientific knowledge gained from clinical validation studies of the latest surgical robots, promoting development, and fostering new technological innovations. The goal is to transform human-assisted surgery into precise, automated solutions, improving patients’ quality of life.
The MoU was signed by the CEO of the robotics company and the CEO of the hospital. In attendance were the Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry; the Founder, and Chairman of the company; the Chairman of Hong Kong Automation Technology Council and Associate Director (Innovation) of a hotel group in Hong Kong as well as the Director of Peritoneal Malignancy Treatment Centre at the hospital.
The Founder of the HKSTP partner company stated that the company is committed to revolutionising surgical technologies and elevating patient care in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. The support the Hong Kong government, through funding programs like the Enterprise Support Scheme and access to advanced facilities at the Science Park, has enabled PRHK to enhance its medical and surgical systems and cultivate skilled professionals. This partnership holds great potential for expanding the use of surgical robots for the benefit of patients.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the hospital noted that partnership provides both parties with a strategic platform to foster the development of technological innovations in healthcare. Drawing on the tech company’s outstanding experience in surgical robot development and implementation, we anticipate contributing to the successful transformation of our joint clinical research efforts into healthcare solutions that will offer improved care, greater precision, and more advanced options for patients.
FDA Clears SIRIUS Endoscope System for Use
SIRIUS Endoscope System, the flagship product of the robotics company, achieved 510k clearance from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2022, demonstrating its safety and efficacy in use, and meeting world-class quality standards.
The CEO of the company announced that the FDA 510K clearance and the clinical data acquired through the partnership with the hospital will facilitate the company’s ability to advance its medical robotics technology in Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. The company’s status as a prominent leader in the development of innovative surgical robotics solutions will also be strengthened.
The robotics company is a portfolio company of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) Venture Fund, which supports promising tech ventures by providing investment and attracting private capital. The Hong Kong Science Park is a hub for over 1,200 cutting-edge innovation and technology companies, including PRHK, in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, biomedical technology, and more.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that the robotics company has been a consistent part of HKSTP’s ecosystem and a shining example of how research, with the right support, can lead to scalable commercial success. This collaboration represents a major milestone in their quest to improve the utilisation of robotics in healthcare, and they are thrilled to see the company’s continued growth and success.
The robotics company is dedicated to revolutionising the field of minimally invasive surgery through its innovative articulated camera system, providing advanced laparoscopic surgeries with precision, accuracy, and dependability. With the hospital’s expertise, clinical excellence, and top-notch facilities, the company aims to continue improving surgical robot applications for both surgeons and patients.