Sensors inspired by blind cave fish, energy-generating wastewater
treatment plants, rapid evaluation of the efficacy of cancer drug regimens, functional
genomics merged with artificial intelligence – these were some of the
innovations by the top 10 young Innovators under the age of 35 in Asia
recognised by the MIT Technology
Review on November 21.
The list recognises the development of new technology or the
creative application of existing technologies to solve global problems in
industries such as biomedicine, computing, communications, energy, materials,
web, and transportation.
This year, the researchers and entrepreneurs come from
Singapore, Australia and Taiwan. The 10 selected innovators will present a
three-minute elevator pitch at EmTech Asia and will automatically become finalists
for the global Innovators Under 35 list. Past honorees of the global list
include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg,
the cofounder of Facebook; Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple; and
Daniel Ek, co-founder of Spotify.
SGInnovate (a private-limited company wholly owned by the
Singapore Government), which seeks to develop the startup ecosystem in
Singapore, will host the ‘Innovators Under 35’ (IU35) segment.
Steve Leonard, Founding Chief Executive Officer of
SGInnovate, said, “We are thrilled to be supporting IU35 for the
second consecutive year. At SGInnovate, we strongly believe that ‘deep-tech’
startups will be critical players in tackling global challenges in new ways.
These young scientists are working in areas such as energy, transportation,
artificial intelligence, and biomedicine. All of these are vital to the future
of humanity. We want to encourage and help these amazing men and women to have
the courage and confidence to bring their research work to the market – where
millions of lives could potentially be transformed.”
Now in its fifth edition, the “Innovators Under 35 Asia”
program received a total of 132 nominations from talented researchers,
inventors and entrepreneurs from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand,
Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, for
consideration for the 2018 list.
Ajay Prakash Kottapalli (Singapore),
is currently a Project Investigator (PI) for research projects funded by the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and
Technology (SMART) Innovation Center and the CENSAM (Center for
Environmental Sensing and Modeling) Research Initiative. In 2016, Ajay founded
a startup company called Sensornomics Pte Ltd which envisions to create new
standards of care in biomedical devices.
He is working on the development of ultra-sensitive, nature-inspired
miniaturised sensors that can be used for biomedical flow sensing and are cheap
enough to produce and use on a large scale.
Blind cave fish have an uncanny ability to swim adeptly at
high speeds without colliding with obstacles and finding food even faster than
the eyed fish. They do so through flow sensors on their body which can measure
minute disturbances. After understanding the biology of the sensors, he was
able to produce sensors as cheap as 20 cents and which could measure flow
velocities as low as 1 ml/sec. These can be useful for intravenous infusion.
He is also working on sensors inspired by whiskers of
harbour seals, which are used to track fishes underwater and also, by the hair
cells in the cochlea, an organ in the ears of mammals. All these sensors could
have a wide range of applications in the biomedical area and others as well.
For instance, they could be used on underwater vehicles to measure flows around
the vehicle and for object detection and object avoidance.
Anjali Jaiprakash (Australia) Queensland University of
Dr. Anjali Jaiprakash is working Light field retinal
diagnostic system to decrease preventable blindness globally.
She is an Advance QLD research fellow at the Australian
Centre for Robotic Vision and Queensland University of Technology. She is a
Robobiologist with a PhD in Applied Science and a Master’s degree in
Biotechnology and Business. Anjali is developing medical devices that translate
robotic vision into affordable systems that can be used to improve healthcare
outcomes, through a transdisciplinary approach, that encompasses medicine,
engineering and design.
This includes a light field retinal diagnostic system to
replace the expensive and complex cameras currently used to detect
abnormalities such as glaucoma or macular degeneration and decrease preventable
Khoo Bee Luan (Singapore), SMART
Dr. Khoo Bee Luan is a biomedical scientist focused on
innovating microfluidic devices for clinical utility. She leads a research team
under the Young Investigator grant award by the National Medical Research
which is designing microfluidic models to deliver real-time therapeutic
read-outs with direct translational relevance for cancer.
One of the devices she is working on is the Circulating
Tumour Cell (CTC) Cluster Assay. This assay capitalises on the utility of the liquid
biopsy, which is simply a blood sample from the cancer patient. Liquid biopsies
are relatively non-invasive as compared to current diagnostic procedures like
tumour biopsy, or tissue aspiration.
The blood sample is processed for a short-term culture to
derive a phenotype that can help find out if the patient is responding to
treatment or not. This can help in the evaluation of treatments, as well as
drugs, new and old. If the patient is not responding to the drug regime, the
clinician can step in and alter the treatment to suit the patient better,
thereby contributing to the development of personalised medicine.
She has also developed microfluidic biochips for isolation
of primary cancer cells, diseased blood cells or malaria-infected cells with
relevance to early disease detection. For example in cancer, CTC counts could
be provided simply after a few hours of processing through the micro-fluidic
Jiashi Feng (Singapore), National University of Singapore
Dr. Jiashi Feng, currently an Assistant Professor with
Department of ECE at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is enabling
computers to grow learning ability with dynamic neural networks. His current
research interest focusses on AI, machine learning and computer vision. He has
published over 100 research papers in machine learning, deep learning, object
recognition and big data analysis.
Wesley Zheng Guangyuan (Singapore), IMRE, A*STAR
Dr. Zheng is a Scientist at A*STAR’s (Agency for Science,
Technology and Research) Institute for Materials Research and Engineering
(IMRE) and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in NUS.
His research work focused on developing high capacity
electrodes for the next-generation lithium batteries, with automotive, aerial
and renewable storage applications. The new battery technology can theoretically
have 5 times the energy compared to the common lithium ion batteries used
currently. The current prototype cells achieve
about 1.5 to 2 times.
Dr. Zheng also co-founded a venture-backed startup
(volans-i) to develop high-payload, long-range delivery drone.
Chun-Hao Huang (Taiwan), CLINICAI Inc
Dr. Huang is merging functional genomics and artificial
intelligence for disease detection and treatment.
Dr. Huang is a Cancer Biologist, Genetic Engineer and AI
Entrepreneur. He pioneered the establishment of fast and flexible genetically
engineered mouse models using gene silencing and editing technologies, and led
the discovery of therapeutic strategies for treating liver cancer and
inflammatory bowel disease.
He also invented methods to identify disease biomarkers that
predict drug responses, and applied machine learning to the study of genes.
Min Hao Wong (Singapore), Massachusetts Institute of
Min Hao Wong is developing unique nanosensor constructs for
smart agriculture application.
He is currently a Chemical Engineering graduate student at
MIT. His PhD research involved the development of unique nanosensor
applications for agriculture. His work has been featured in global media
outlets such as FOX, Forbes, TIME, BBC, and CBS. BostInno named his work as one
of the top 7 inventions to come out of MIT in 2016. Min Hao is also currently actively
running Plantea, a start-up company focused on agricultural nanosensors. He is
also the co-president of the South-East Asia Club, vice president of the MIT
energy club, and a guest lecturer for 10.585 Engineering Nanotechnology.
Qilin Wang (Australia), Griffith University
Dr Qilin Wang is an Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA
Research Fellow & Lecturer at Griffith University in Australia. Dr. Wang’s
research focuses on innovative biotechnologies for maximising energy
recovery/production from wastewater. As a Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI,
he has been awarded 7 competitive grants with a total research funding of ~$AUD
3.6 Million from Australian government, State government, industry and
Dr. Wang explained, “Wastewater treatment plants consume a
lot of energy. But wastewater also contains a lot of energy. The basic idea is
that if we can recover the energy from the wastewater, we can use the recovered
energy for the operation of the wastewater plant. We can even export the excess
energy into the grid. We can convert the wastewater treatment plants from large
energy consumers to energy generators.”
Currently, most of the technologies for generating energy
from wastewater consume a lot of chemicals. Dr. Wang instead uses a chemical which
is present in the wastewater itself.
The wastewater sludge containing a lot of organic material, will
usually go through an anaerobic digester in the treatment plant to produce
biogas but only a small fraction of the wastewater sludge can be used so. After
the sludge is treated using the chemical present in the wastewater, maybe
50-60% of the sludge can be used for producing biogas, compared to say 30%
Dr. Wang has applied for a patent for the technology and he
is also working with a company for its commercialisation.
Weibo Gao (Singapore), Nanyang Technological University
Dr. Gao was recognised for his exploration of spin photon
interface for the application in quantum network and quantum information
Currently he is a Nanyang assistant professor in NTU. His
research in quantum information and quantum photonics is published in several
world class journals such as Nature, Nature physics, Nature photonics and
Nature communications. Previously he has won the Marie-Curie Fellowship in
European Union, the recipient of National 100 Excellent Doctoral Dissertation
Award in China, and Singapore National Research Foundation fellowship awards.
Yok Hian Chionh (Singapore),
Tychan Pte. Ltd., SMART
Yok Hian Chionh believes that the war against infections can
be won if we proactively create systems that rapidly design cures, respond to,
and treat patients during outbreaks. As a scientist, he discovered fundamental
properties of genetic coding that enabled pathogens to survive hostile
environments. As a drug developer, he helped bring an anti-Zika therapeutic
from bench-to-bedside. He is exploring radically different science-based
regulatory frameworks to expedite regulatory approvals of therapeutics, while
meeting safety and efficacy requirements.
The medical sector is highly regulated and conservative. To bring about a change, you need evidence. If equivalence can be proven among different tests or different products, then it can be effectively communicated that they are one and the same (two pharmaceutical products are bioequivalent if they are pharmaceutically equivalent and their bioavailabilities (rate and extent of availability) after administration in the same dose are similar to such a degree that their effects, with respect to both efficacy and safety, can be expected to be essentially the same.)
Today in drug trials around the world, everything is systematic
with no exceptions. The current regulatory frameworks provide for a systematic
approach to ensure that every single product made is exactly the same for
drugs. For trials, there’s an established sequential process, starting with a
small group, moving on to bigger groups and finally to the market.
Everything is put in place for a reason, most of them
historical. But there are better ways to do things right now. “In the context, of epidemics, outbreaks of
infectious diseases, drug-resistant, in order to save lives (I don’t mean 1 or
2 lives, it is about thousands of lives) we need a new approach. You cannot
wait 5 years or more for a new drug. People need the drugs now. That is what
the radically different approach is. It is really common-sense. You do not want
to do things in a stepwise manner and wait for the results from A, before you
do B, when we can do A and B at the same time,” said Yok Hian Chionh.
More than 7,000 positions have been made available for job applicants through the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) website since September of this year, according to a press release.
The CSC Job portal allows job seekers, interested to work in government, to search for vacancies. Apart from the position title and place of assignment, the job postings contain the salary grade and monthly salary, the qualification standards that need to be met by the applicant, documents to be submitted, and instructions on how to apply.
In using the CSC Job Portal, job seekers can customise their search by filtering the list by position title, agency name, and region. For example, those who want to teach may type “Teacher” under the position title or choose “Department of Education” under the agency name, then choose the region where they wish to be assigned.
Similarly, vacancies are also posted at CSC Field Offices (CSC FO), the CSC said. It has more than a hundred field offices nationwide. In CSC Resolution No. 2000221, routed through Memorandum Circular No. 25, s. 2020 (Adoption of a Unified Platform for Publication of Vacant Positions in the Government in the CSC Website Including Third-Level Vacant Positions), the Commission has instructed all government agencies to submit their list of vacant positions in the career service that are authorised to be filled, in electronic and printed copies, to the CSC FO concerned.
The printed copy shall be posted by the CSC FO in its bulletin board, while the electronic copy shall be forwarded to the CSC Regional Office, which shall publish the vacancies in the CSC Job Portal. Vacancies to be posted shall include first-level, second-level, and third-level career positions.
First-level positions include clerical, trades, crafts, and custodial service positions, which involve non-professional or subprofessional work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring less than four years of collegiate studies.
Second-level includes professional, technical, and scientific positions that involve professional, technical, or scientific work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring at least four years of college work. While the third level covers positions in the Career Executive Service, all of whom are appointed by the President.
In September, the CSC lined up several activities for the 120th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary including an online career fair for job seekers. It was the first time that the career fair will be held online, so the commission encouraged job seekers to avail themselves of the opportunity for employment, especially for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, as OpenGov Asia reported earlier.
Even with the new normal celebration of the anniversary, activities were successfully conducted like the regional amateur video contest, national online photography contest, and quiz for government employees.
The third week of September is dubbed as the ‘Linggo ng Malasakit’ where job seekers can view employment opportunities from the various government line agencies and local government units (LGUs) and submit their applications online.
This year, during week one, the Commission kicked-off the celebration at the regional office with a virtual press conference in partnership with the PIA Regional Office 1 and launched online learning and development courses led by the Civil Service Institute (CSI).
On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $12.9 million in funding to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) for the development of a major Victorian Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Marketplace trial named Project Edge on 2 December 2020.
Based in the Hume region of northeast Victoria, the $28 million project will see AEMO partner with network an Australian energy company and energy equipment and solutions retailer to coordinate the development of a replicable model for the trading of electricity and grid services from DER that can be expanded across the National Electricity Market (NEM).
The three-year trial will create a prototype market for DER to be dispatched and traded as part of the NEM. Registered market participants, using customers’ DER, will submit bids to the market platform, and in turn, will make these bids visible to distribution networks to increase the reliability and resilience of the whole system.
Project Edge will initially involve around 50 residential customers, but then scale up to 1000 residential, commercial and industrial customers. The trial will provide the parties visibility and active control of the DER, helping to reduce electricity costs for customers and managing challenges associated with a decentralised grid.
ARENA’s funding will assist the development of the software and systems underpinning the first DER marketplace in Australia, to provide necessary insight and visibility over the distribution electricity system to AEMO and network operators to optimally balance the provision of grid services, ancillary services and energy from DER within the operational constraints of the distribution network.
ARENA has previously supported over $100 million of DER projects and established the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) a collaboration of government agencies, market authorities, industry and consumer associations aimed at maximising the value of customers’ DER for all energy users.
The ARENA CEO said this landmark trial would provide the blueprint for integrating DER into the grid. As the uptake of rooftop solar, home batteries, home energy management systems, electric vehicles and smart appliances is expected to grow, it is clear that these technologies are going to transform our electricity system.
While these devices and technologies can make the grid more reliable, affordable and lower emission, rapid uptake is already impacting how the grid is managed and highlighting the limitations of our existing market frameworks.
This trial will help to develop trading mechanisms to maximise the economic benefits to customers and the system and minimise the costs of supply to all energy customers. ARENA will work to develop a marketplace for the services these technologies can provide, and paving the way for widespread adoption across Australia.
The Executive General Manager of Emerging Markets and Services at AEMO noted that the agency working with the industry to design and test a world-first, two-way energy system and sophisticated market for consumers to participate in the NEM.”
This trial, along with the financial support from ARENA, will facilitate the trading of aggregated electricity services from energy devices in peoples’ homes and businesses in north-east Victoria.
The trial forms part of the company’s DER Program to enable a smooth transition from a one-way energy supply chain, to a world-leading system that maximises the value of DER for all consumers through effectively integrating DER into Australia’s power systems and electricity markets.
The Executive GM of Growth and Future Networks the energy company noted that Australians have embraced rooftop solar and have a growing appetite for DER. This trial aims to demonstrate how they can have even more choice when it comes to energy for homes and businesses.
The companies’ teams are excited to be using the firm’s locally developed ‘Ubi’ hardware and software to demonstrate how a future energy market can support fully realising the financial and environmental benefits of energy resources.
Thailand Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and Department of Health Service Support (HSS) recently announced that they will leverage the cutting-edge digital technologies of an online travel agency and metasearch engine to further improve accessibility and efficiency for the booking processes of Alternative States Quarantine (ASQ) packages for Thai repatriates and in-bound travellers during COVID-19. This collaboration makes Thailand one of the first countries in the world to digitalize the booking process.
Returning Thais and inbound travellers will be able to search for and book MOPH-approved ASQ properties via a dedicated booking platform that allows travellers to search availability, room type, and pricing in real-time. Quarantine hotel package bookings are required as part of the process to obtain approval from the local Thai embassies to enter Thailand.
The automation of the booking process benefits both the participating hoteliers and travellers by simplifying the search and booking process on one easily accessible platform. It allows MOPH and HSS to focus their efforts on maintaining health and safety standard protocols for participating in ASQ properties. Initially, the listed ASQ properties on the platform include those in Bangkok, Chonburi, and Phuket.
The Director-General of the Department of Health Service Support stated that Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) is an important mechanism that aims to benefit Thailand in two ways. The first factor is in the prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19, and the second is as a stimulus to help drive the economy by generating income for entrepreneurs.
For these hotel entrepreneurs to be part of the ASQ program, however, they must pass strict standard checks in six categories from the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Defense. These include safety protocols that ensure on-site personnel fully equipped with medical supplies and training, processes that minimise disruption to the wider community and have an environmental management system to protect and control guests, and thus prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Alongside these requirements are is the professionalism of the country’s hospitals to support foreign travellers and Thai’s repatriating. ASQ helps to promote the country’s economy with the 113 hotels participating as ASQ properties generating THB1.2 billion revenue for Thailand to date. ASQ facilities, which allow flexibility to choose where to stay for quarantine, can be one way to attract foreign tourists again from all over the world and generate income for the country.
The online travel agency has a team of over 1,000 tech engineers in Bangkok working around the clock on cutting-edge solutions for customers, businesses, and governments across the globe. The digital booking platform for ASQ is now live, with more technology partners expected to join the program in the coming months.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thai Ministry of Public Health has required that any Thai or foreign nationals travelling to Thailand must secure a COVID-19 PCR test with a negative result, COVID-19 health insurance and they must undergo a mandatory quarantine at Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facilities.
The mandatory quarantine is required for foreigners permitted to enter Thailand such as diplomats and non-immigrant B visa with work permit holders including their families, business representatives and experts invited by the government, permanent residents, foreigners with Thai families such as Thai marriage visa holders, students and their guardians, medical tourists and their attendants, business visa holders, Thai Elite Visa holders, APEC Cardholders, special tourist visa (STV) holders, SETV tourist visa holders, non-immigrant O, OA and OX retirement visa holders and migrant workers with official documents.
The Ministry of Finance remains at the top among government ministries in the rankings of information technology application in 2019, according to a report released in November.
The agency is followed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Information and Communications, unchanged from the year earlier. The rankings were based on six criteria, including information technology (IT) infrastructure, IT applications in internal operations, information portals, public service delivery, IT application policy, and IT personnel.
For provinces and centrally-governed cities, Thua Thien Hue swapped place with Da Nang to become the number one province in IT application, while Da Nang fell to the second position, with Quang Ninh Province in third.
A media report noted that several provinces such as Lang Son, An Giang, Bac Kan, and Bac Ninh recorded significant improvements in their standings, thanks to their major efforts in providing online public services. According to Nguyen Phu Tien, deputy director of the Authority of Information Technology Application (AITA), the scores of ministries and provincial authorities in 2019 all increased from the previous year. The average score of ministries was up by 0.13 to 0.82 and that of provinces and cities up by 0.07.
Data also showed the biggest improvements were seen in IT infrastructure, IT application in internal operations, and information portals, indicating that more attention had been given to investment in infrastructure and the rollout of applications-oriented towards promoting e-government.
The AITA has also announced a set of digital transformation criteria with three pillars, namely digital government, digital economy, and digital society, to evaluate the degree of digital transformation at ministries and provincial authorities.
Last month, five banks were honoured for their digital transformation efforts at the annual Vietnam Outstanding Banking Awards 2020, organised by the Vietnam Banking Association and IDG Vietnam.
BIDV, Sacombank, TPBank, Vietcombank, and VPBank received an award for their exceptional digitisation solutions over the past year.
In 2020 BIDV standardised its operations on the foundation of technology and develop digital banking services to promote cashless payment and increase coverage for customers without access to traditional banking services.
Sacombank provides its electronic banking services on multiple channels while TPBank is the first bank in Vietnam to roll out blockchain-based money transfer and an AI chatbot for round-the-clock customer service.
Earlier, Vietcombank completed the transformation of its core banking system as well as the upgrade of its servers and transmission infrastructure to prepare for bank-wide digital transformation. For its part, VPBank pioneered in working with fintech companies to expand its ecosystem.
At the awards ceremony, the organisers also honoured outstanding banks in various categories including retail banks, banks with innovative products and services, green credit, social responsibility, and support for high-tech agriculture. The awards for outstanding fintech companies went to Moca, Momo, Smartnet, and Trusting Social.
As part of its digital transformation journey, the country is promoting open platforms. Vietnam began approaching the open technology trend early in the 2000s, but it is still behind some countries, which is attributed to the closed culture, the localisation of data, and lack of interest from large corporations. Now, Vietnam ranks third in Southeast Asia and is among the top 20 in the world in open-source applications, after Singapore (17), and Malaysia (18).
New technologies and disruptive innovations are reshaping the way financial services are structured, provisioned and consumed. Banks need to recognise the growth opportunities stemming from digital technologies to initiate new platforms, new value propositions, and intelligent business models.
The ability of financial services providers to identify the demands of their customers and broaden the usage of right technologies will determine who will ultimately gain the much-coveted competitive edge.
Leading ICT executives from financial services industries in the Philippines and Thailand participated in OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight to discuss key challenges surrounding the rollout of digital banking capabilities and strategies to enhance the customer experience.
The session witnessed an overwhelming response from the audience in terms of diversity and engagement. Comprised of senior FSI sector digital executives from banks and financial institutions, the attendees were eager to discuss, debate and determine the best practices to achieve fast and convenient product innovations and efficiency within the digital bank.
Knowing your customer is the key to enhancing customer service
It is no surprise to see customers of today waiting impatiently for seamless services. They demand prompt services and immediate solutions to any problems they experience.
This notion of customers being time-starved was made by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia in his opening address.
Mohit talked about how the new wave of millennial customers are “born digital” and are demanding simple, fast and convenient digital experiences. The open banking approach is shifting the entire ecosystem at a rapid rate, where the requirements for traditional banks have been changing drastically.
Mohit stressed how it is crucial for financial services to deeply understand their customers and constantly reinvent their services as customers are always reinventing themselves with technology.
He stressed the importance of using available technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as it enables the banks to focus on the customers and services, not a product.
Mohit concluded his presentation by encouraging organisations to collaborate with experts and partners who will help them accelerate their innovation journey and innovate to stay relevant in the current environment.
Key frameworks to assist financial institutions in digital banking journey
After Mohit’s presentation, Annie Ong, Head of Business Development and Product Management, OneConnect Financial Technology, gave the welcome address of the event.
Annie began by expounding on the background of OneConnect Financial Technology and how they are exploring growth opportunities across Asia and the Middle East. She explained that OneConnect, as an organisation, has been dedicated to spearheading the financial service ecosystem, fully equipped with advanced technologies and data centres across the region.
She briefly explained the key digital solutions that OneConnect is spearheading:
- Digital Identity Verification
- Smart Lending Platform
- Digital Bank-in-a-box-Solution
- Insurtech Solutions
Annie also shared the digital banking frameworks of OneConnect solution which encompasses all the essential digital components to embark on a digital banking journey. Apart from key technology enablers such as eKYC, Anti-Fraud, Micro-expression, and Open APIs, she confirmed that OneConnect focuses on innovative technologies with the wealth of financial service industry experience that they have.
Product-focused to customer-focused
Keeping in mind the key frameworks of digital banking, Dhana Damodaram, General Manager Service Management & CIO Asia Pacific, Westpac Banking Corporation, offered his perspective to the delegates.
Dhana started by stating the fact that banks were originally known for products such as cards, wealth and mortgages. The industry is now seeing a drastic shift where banks are moving from product-focused to service-oriented. Banks are starting to bring the services to where the customer is and thereby, aiming to provide any channel, anytime and anywhere banking.
He explained that this trend can be seen from advertisement copy, as many of the traditional banks recently have been changing their taglines to align to customer-centric and smarter banking services.
Dhana asserted that banks should be deeply involved in the course of a customer journey and built into the process to provide seamless customer experience.
With this, as the banks move from product to service-focused and getting embedded into the customer journey, business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships are also changing from business-to-business (B2B) to B2C.
Dhana also claimed that with banks adopting the business models of digital banking, the revenue is expected to grow by 20%. Whereas banks that fall behind in digital banking disruption stand to lose an estimated 30% of revenue.
On the issue of ecosystem-based banking, Dhana emphasised the importance of portfolio management whereby banks should be certain of the specific segment of customers that they want to attract, and start building an ecosystem around them.
Polling Questions and Discussion
After the presentations by the three speakers, the session transitioned to an interactive discussion time with polling questions posed to the audience. The questions revolved around the main challenges and drivers of digital banking.
On the first question regarding the top priority in 2021, a majority of the room voted for removing frictions from the customer journey and improve their digital experience (68%).
A senior executive from Maybank Philippines shared that he voted for the use of big data, AI, cognitive computing and advanced technologies. He finds this increasingly important especially in times of current digital journey, as it enables the banks to onboard a customer without a physical presence. Such technologies are driving the need to remove physical presence on the premise of enhancing customer experience where the majority has voted for.
On the next question, delegates shared many different perspectives when asked for the primary business reason for offering digital banking. The audience was divided among business model (35%), attracting new customers (22%), competitive pressure (17%) and increase revenue (13%).
A delegate from CIMB Thai Bank voted for the business model as the primary reason because he felt that other options are the usual drivers for all banks. In digital banking, the concern is leaning more towards networks, partners and pricing model, and also streamlining the operation with automation. He believed that this would bring a competitive edge in the market and the rest are the subset of the business model.
On the same question, another delegate from UOB Thailand shared that the ultimate goal of banks is to increase revenue. Digital banking enables the banks to not only attract new customers but also to retain existing customers that will ultimately boost the revenue.
When asked about the biggest challenge when orchestrating an ecosystem, 35% of the delegates voted for security concerns, while 29% voted for prioritisation of ecosystem roadmap and creating an ecosystem mindset/culture.
While delegates agreed that all the challenges have to be addressed, one delegate shared that he voted for security concerns based on the experience he faced when expanding an ecosystem with partners from different industries. He learned that the concept of security was very different from the banking perspective.
After the completion of the discussions, Nicholas Tan, Head of Ecosystems and Partnerships, OneConnect Financial Technology addressed the audience with the closing remarks.
He shared the journey of Ping An group and how they have built adjacent ecosystems to support core business growth. Nicholas claimed that OneConnect was able to increase the number of users who interact through different digital channels 11 times over 7 years, and migration of financial customers also spiked from 8% to 35%.
Based on OneConnect’s experience and case studies, he stressed the importance of customer engagement through ecosystem for banks and thereby bringing the customers back to the financial services.
Nicholas thanked all the participants for their enthusiastic participation. Nicholas urged the delegates to reach out to the OneConnect team to explore ways of taking their ecosystem and digital banking journey forward.
In collaboration with
As you might imagine during the COVID-19 pandemic, efficiency was key – particularly when it involved healthcare records.
The last thing you’d want to do while battling a deadly virus, is to fumble through paper records that are easily misplaced, replicated or replaced.
That’s why in May, while the frontline medical staff was busy containing the pandemic, teams from SGInnovate and Accredify were busy developing a product called Digital Health Passport behind the scenes.
By storing data on blockchain, Accredify built upon GovTech’s OpenAttestation framework for HealthCert, a verifiable travel credential standard created by GovTech, to enhance the safety and efficiency of travel for all outbound travellers and immigration authorities.
Digital Health Passport allows for medical documents – yes, including COVID-19 discharge memos and swab results – to be issued and stored in a secure digital wallet. The mobile app was created to resolve the issue of lost or damaged physical medical records by providing an easily accessible, portable repository of medical documents for citizens.
Verification is fast and easy, users can automatically access their digital records via SingPass and present it to officials via QR code when required.
Because of the open nature of blockchain, the health records are also tamperproof (we’ve explained how blockchain works in a previous article about degrees and diplomas, read that here).
PUT INTO ACTION IN TWO MONTHS
Time is of the essence during a pandemic and the development of the Digital Health Passport definitely reflects the urgency required. The project started in May, but by July an early beta version was already implemented in a pilot with both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower.
Put into action in MOM’s FWMOMCARE app, Digital Health Passport was deployed to enable the issuance of verifiable discharge memo that expedited the re-entry of foreign workers into their dormitory and workplace.
FUTURE PLANS ARE BREWING
Digital Health Passport might now be used mostly for discharge memos, but plans are already in motion to extend the usage to other healthcare records such as COVID-19 Swab results, proof-of-immunity and even vaccination records.
In a time where the world is still grappling with COVID-19, the app has the potential to become an essential tool for both the healthcare sector and travel industry.
FINDING THE SILVER LINING
Well, if there’s one thing we learnt during COVID-19, is that there are opportunities in even the darkest of crises.
It’s quite possible in the near future that it’ll be used to facilitate checks on travellers, or help other organisations manage their employee health and travel records better – in both Singapore and beyond!
If that happens, our tiny island nation can affirm its status as a Digital Hub in a post-COVID world – and a leader in utilising blockchain technology.
Of course, when that happens, you’d be sure to hear it from us!
Two key UniSA research development projects that will add to the capacities of small satellites have won support in the latest round of South Australian Defence Innovation Partnership Cooperative Research Grants. UniSA secured two out of six of the grants and is a collaborator on three other grants awarded.
Research Fellow at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute (FII), Dr Kamil Zuber, says the development of freeform optics for small satellites will expand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capacity and capability for space satellites.
The emerging technology of freeform optics, where mirrors can be designed and manufactured to take on complex shapes, allows for the production large fields of view in smaller packages – which is a powerful adaptation for the new generation of small satellites that are in rapid development, Dr Zuber said.
Moreover, with the capacity to produce these mirrors via additive manufacturing – also known as 3D printing – this is a technology with the potential to transform the way space missions are designed.
UniSA researchers will also collaborate with DST, industry partners and the University of Adelaide to prototype and validate durable coatings for freeform optical components used for small space satellites.
Achieving a stable, durable coating in the harsh low earth orbit environment that is impervious to radiation and atomic oxygen is one of the challenges that this project aims to address, Dr Zuber noted.
The second project being led by FII Research Fellow, Associate Professor Craig Priest will address concerns in the Space Capabilities (Defence White Paper 2016) to develop satellite systems that can withstand and respond to adverse events. With several hundred small satellites launched every year, space is becoming crowded and hostile, Assoc Prof Priest said.
Satellites must be smaller, more agile, and more energy-efficient, with onboard thrust mechanisms that also have minimal hardware. Their research will be focussed on nanofluidic thrusters which can offer a solution to those challenges. And with the DST Group, the University of Adelaide, and industry partners work will focus on commercialising the devices for defence, including manufacturing and testing of prototypes.
Assoc Prof Priest participated in the University’s business incubator program for space startups, Venture Catalyst Space in 2019 which helped define his business model and connect his team to the industry.
Another two recipients of the grants, Canadian start-up and a local start-up were also both past participants of the Venture Catalyst program run by UniSA’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre. Each research development project has received $150,000 to push the frontiers of scientific knowledge in the space sector.
UniSA is also a key partner in three other successful grants awarded in the latest round of funding, boosting the University’s contribution to innovation in the defence and national security research and development.
UniSA Director Defence and Space, Matt Opie says the outcomes from this round are a testament to the University’s capability in defence and space-related research.
He noted that these collaborations will give Australia a technology edge, creating new opportunities for partnership and industrial engagement to build knowledge in defence and space science. Support for these projects contributes to a strong research base, enabled by South Australia’s nationally significant infrastructure.
Designed to generate defence-related research and development activity in South Australia between industry, universities and government, the Defence Innovation Partnership is a collaborative venture between the South Australia Government, Defence Science and Technology Group, and South Australia’s three universities.