Through its various government initiatives and programs, Malaysia has managed to become more digital and aligned with global transformative efforts.
In fact, progressive efforts at the state level have resulted in encouraging feats that have enabled greater digital breakthroughs like the development of smart cities.
Sabah, in East Malaysia, announced the launch of its very own digital wallet or e-wallet called ‘Sabah Pay’.
Previously, its neighbour state, Sarawak accomplished something similar when it developed and deployed S-Pay, a state-owned payment facility that went international soon after.
Although no plans have been announced as to whether Sabah Pay will be launched as an international payment capability, the platform remains promising and convenient.
The centralized payment capability was developed by Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC) and can be used by locals as well as tourists.
The CEO of SCC stated that 27 agencies and 28 businesses have decided to be on Sabah Pay, a number expected to increase. This is because the CEO targets to get five state entities onboard, each month, as they move forward.
That being said, the e-wallet will definitely be particularly fundamental in boosting the state’s government payment collections as the platform features bill payment capabilities as well as links to all public agencies’ portals.
The target is that by the end of the year, 60 per cent of the state departments and agencies’ collection can be done through the Sabah Pay’s Collection Module, with an aim of 100,000 users signing up by then.
Additionally, the digital wallet will also contain news announcements by the state government and agencies as well as a segment that promotes the latest events taking place in Sabah.
Lastly, Sabah Pay will be offering marketing channels on the app for businesses to promote their products and services.
It was noted that this is just in phase one, there will be more services introduced such as virtual account, e-Parking, e-Ticket (park entrance and transport) and smart loan.
The SCC CEO further elaborated that tourists can utilize Sabah Pay to pay for admission fees when entering the state’s public parks and islands.
The move will reinvigorate local businesses as it creates new digital market opportunities and stimulates the economy. Ultimately, digital payment systems add value to the financial ecosystem as a whole.
The Chief Minister of Sabah stated that not only does the local government expect to attract investors and businesses by simplifying its procedures and payments via online using just handphones, the aim is to reduce the burden of the public in terms of costs from having to travel to make payments or go to the bank, for example.
Developing a ‘homegrown’ digital payment capability will definitely highlight Sabah as a progressive and competitive state.
Hopefully, other states in Malaysia can follow suit as they realize how e-wallets can significantly augment government operations and add transparency to the payment system.
According to another report, e-wallets making progress across the globe and Malaysia is no exception. Cash payments in the country are expected to decline by 8.1 per cent.
This means that signifying that e-wallets – among other digital solutions – will grow in prominence and importance.
The e-wallet industry in Malaysia is past the infancy stage. However, there is a need for industry players to tap into market segments that are yet to adopt e-wallet capabilities – may it be consumers or small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Like any other digital solution, players in the e-wallets space face challenges that hinder their implementation. The biggest one being the general lack of trust among users. Thus, service providers must tackle the concerns that limit e-wallets from being the preferred payment system. This can be done by bridging the knowledge gaps in the market.
E-wallet operators often partner with government agencies to create adoption campaigns and offer relevant incentives. To catapult themselves ahead of the competition, they need to ensure they educate users effectively.
In terms of encouraging adoption among SMEs, providers must look into providing financial education on how embracing e-wallets can truly benefit them while creating new business opportunities.
Nevertheless, at the core of it all, e-wallet providers must always aim to address the concerns of untapped segments in the market while also improving the product itself to assure quality and reliability.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) will organise a mega virtual summit on artificial intelligence (AI), Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020.
RAISE 2020 will be held from 5-9 October. It will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment in areas like healthcare, agriculture, education, and smart mobility, among other sectors.
The summit is a first of its kind, a global meeting of minds on AI to drive India’s vision for digital transformation. The event will witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, government representatives, and academia.
According to a press release, at the summit, delegates and experts in research, policy, and innovation on AI will come together from across the world. Keynote speeches and panel discussions will frame the summit, on cross-sector subjects like leveraging AI for pandemic preparedness, the impetus that innovation places on digitisation, inclusive AI, and partnerships for successful innovation.
The RAISE 2020 Summit will also feature startups working in AI-related fields. Startups chosen through the AI Solution Challenge will showcase their solutions in the AI Startup Pitchfest. This is part of the government’s continuing support to tech entrepreneurs and startups by providing exposure, recognition, and guidance.
Speaking about the Summit, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, the MeitY Secretary, noted that AI has emerged as a catalyst across industries and can play a transformative role in accelerating development. The summit will explore in-depth, the role of AI in accelerating social empowerment. RAISE 2020 has tracks like AI for health, agriculture, education, skilling, mobility, fintech, research, inclusive AI, the future of work, and responsible AI. The summit will serve as a platform for the meeting of some of the best minds in the world on AI.
Home to the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, elite science and technology institutions like the IITs, robust and ubiquitous digital infrastructure, and millions of newly-minted STEM graduates every year, India is well-positioned to become a global leader in the development of AI, the release claimed.
Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to US$ 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy. The country aims to stand out in the international community not just as a leader in AI but also as a model to show the world how to responsibly direct AI for social empowerment.
Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog, explained that from agriculture to fintech and healthcare to infrastructure, AI is a transformative force. India is uniquely positioned to become the AI laboratory of the world and contribute to inclusive development and growth through empowerment. The summit aims to help create a data-rich environment, which is a stepping stone to eventually transform lives globally.
In August, NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), launched the ATL AI Step-Up Module for students, which will drive AI education and innovation across the country. The initiative was launched after the AI project, ATL AI Modules by the Atal Innovation Mission.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the AI Step-up Module provides a comprehensive set of learn-it-yourself advanced modules to those who want to expand their knowledge base after becoming familiar with the basics of the AI technology.
While glass is a sound-proof material, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have discovered a way which allows sound transmission for glass, opening a new horizon for the potential development of smartphones and other electronic devices that can function underwater, while also offering greater flexibility to building design.
Using the theory of local resonance, a research team led by Prof. WEN Weijia from the Department of Physics has found that by crafting a structured pattern of openings in between glass panes, the sound waves’ mode of vibration will be altered, allowing sound to pass through.
The concept is similar to playing the flute, where players can change the tone by adjusting the position of holes on the instrument. The glass with inlaid cavities can also transmit different sound frequency through the adjustment of those cavities’ shape and size.
The finding, made in collaboration with researchers from Chongqing University and Shenzhen Fantwave Tech. Co was recently published in top physics journal Applied Physics Letters.
Prof. Wen stated that the discovery overturns the concept regarding the use of glass in acoustics and provides a theoretical basis for new applications. If holes or openings in glasses are no longer required for sound transmission, manufacturers can design more long-lasting water-proof mobiles or electronic devices.
Interior settings which require both transparency and sound transmissions – such as those of the bank teller counters or prison reception cells, may also find our technology useful.
As a renowned scientist in advanced functional materials, Prof. Wen’s discoveries span across microsphere and nanoparticle design and fabrications, soft matter physics, smart materials, metamaterials, electronic materials and microfluidics, many of which were eventually transferred into commercial products.
A thermal sensitive nano gel which he discovered in 2009 for example, has recently been applied in the production of a smart glass which transparency changes automatically according to the ambient temperature and solar radiation intensity. This automatic atomizing glass can block up to 70 per cent of the sunlight, effectively reducing the indoor temperature by 5 to 8 degrees and minimizing energy consumption by air conditioning.
Sunlight-blocking glass has been a product made of well-known technology, but for installation on a building, they all require power in changing opacity. The material developed by Prof Wen was the first one that allows the glass to serve such purpose without needing external power.
The smart glass is now deployed in at least 8 mainland cities and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangdong on facilities ranging from schools and hospitals to residences and exhibition halls.
In the paper’s abstract, it is not that the team is introducing a kind of acoustic metamaterial, which can greatly enhance the transmission at subwavelength ranges and keep its hyaline and air-proof characteristics simultaneously.
In contrast to the state of the art, this originally conceived passive metamaterial makes full use of the resonance of glass plates without any complex or expensive materials. The team’s work provides the design of the decorated window, numerical simulation, and experimental demonstrations for this kind of metamaterial and analyses the underlying physical mechanism.
Furthermore, they show that more transmission peaks can be realized by introducing multilayer resonance coupling of this decorated window. This meta-window should have many potential applications where both the sound and visible light transmission are required without any ventilation.
Businesses, farmers and researchers in the Shoalhaven region will benefit from cutting-edge technology and research with the launch of a new industry hub in Nowra on 24 September 2020.
The Morrison Government has provided $2 million to establish the Nowra Agri-business Innovation Hub at the University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven campus to connect the regional agri-business sector with the latest technologies and research.
The Senator for New South Wales stated that the launch of the hub would kick-start a new chapter of innovation and growth in the region.
The hub will ensure that local students, businesses and entrepreneurs can access the expertise, equipment and innovation that will help them succeed, she said. The Shoalhaven region has a strong history in agribusiness, manufacturing and defence industries, as well as a skilled labour force.
The research conducted in the university’s facilities will provide advice and technical assistance for those businesses to explore new technologies and drive growth.
The Minister for Education stated that the Government was committed to enhancing collaboration between universities, industry, businesses, government and the wider community.
The research done by Australia’s universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains, he said. As part of its Job-ready Graduates reforms, the Government is providing $900 million to establish the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund to fund partnerships between universities and industry.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong stated that the hub will provide the community with access to tools and support to create a thriving economic future. The University has always served its communities and this was recently demonstrated in the assistance it provided to students and businesses across the South Coast and Southern Highlands throughout Australia’s bushfire crisis and the pandemic, he remarked.
The university is determined to continue to value-add to local communities economically, environmentally, socially and culturally by investing in research and innovation.
“So, it is fitting to be partnering with the Australian Government to officially open this Industry 4.0 Hub at a time when Australia’s economic recovery is based on our success at growing new businesses, creating jobs, and supporting existing businesses,” he concluded.
The hub is expected to provide further details on research engagement and translation in the first half of 2021.
Applying digital transformation to the agriculture sector is paramount. Invest NSW notes that agricultural technology (Agtech), is predicted to become Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030. The sector is fast becoming a vital part of the NSW economy and a growing source of both income and investment.
Thriving agtech clusters, world-class life sciences institutions and high-quality produce, make NSW the ideal environment for agribusiness innovation.
A rising middle class, especially in the Asia Pacific, is moving from a simple diet to one that’s much higher in the kind of agriculturally-intensive foods in which Australia and NSW specialise. At the same time, demand for locally-grown sustainable food is growing in the domestic market.
Global warming and diminishing natural resources present obstacles to meeting this changing demand. So too does the rising cost of energy, labour, fertiliser, seeds and herbicides. These challenges have created a perfect environment for Agtech to grow.
NSW is at the forefront of using technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to increase agricultural productivity. However, agtech isn’t just changing the face of farming; it’s helping save farming land. Technological advances ensure we can produce, supply and store food sustainably.
The Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City Business Association recently unveiled a digital transformation program for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help improve their competitiveness.
The program will be implemented in collaboration with the HCM City Computer Association and its members as a part of the city government’s efforts to help SMEs gain better access to digital transformation solutions at reasonable costs. Under the scheme, a committee for digital transformation under the management of the HCM City Business Association and a digital transformation training centre for enterprises will be established.
According to a press release, a portal will be built to support the digital transformation efforts, and a digital transformation solution package called Service Catalog will be established to support businesses. The business association also introduced two basic digital transformation packages, the X-Starter (for start-ups) and X-SME (for SMEs), to be provided by reputed members of the computer association.
Speaking at a press conference held to announce the program, Chu Tien Dung, the chairman of the HCM City Union of Business Associations, stressed the importance of good infrastructure and a legal framework for digital transformation.
Enterprises have recognised the importance of technologies in their operations and management. Digital transformation will be the element to help them improve their competitive capacity and develop sustainably. “The association is willing to support and assist enterprises in undertaking digital transformation if they face any hurdles in implementation.
The chairman of the computer association, Lam Nguyen Hai Long, noted his association is working with other business groups in the city to publish a catalogue of IT products for enterprises’ digital transformation efforts. He recommended that the city should provide free IT infrastructure for SMEs, and IT enterprises should offer digital transformation services at reduced prices.
The city should choose local enterprises to provide technologies for the program because similar projects are already being carried out by IT enterprises in other provinces and cities, he added.
HCM City aims to become a smart city with e-government, e-enterprises, and an electronic society by 2030, and set up a database by that year to assist with this. By 2030 it also aims to push all public services online and provide them on multiple platforms, including mobile devices. The e-economy is expected to account for 40% of the city’s economy.
The rate of individuals and enterprises having electronic accounts for payments will exceed 85%. To obtain these goals, the city will strengthen communications and improve the awareness of its workers, the public and enterprises, and create shared databases.
Experts said the digital transformation would affect all areas of the economy like health, education, transport, finance-banking, tourism, agriculture, logistics, environment, and energy.
Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) launched a campaign to review and remove malware nationwide this year. It aims to enhance the country’s network security, as OpenGov Asia reported.
The campaign intends to reduce the malicious code infection rate by 50%. It also aims to cut the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in ten popular botnets – a collection of internet-connected devices infected by malware that allow hackers to control them – in half.
The National Digital Transformation Program notes that ensuring network safety and security is key to digital transformation. All IT equipment, products, software, information systems, and investment projects have mandatory components on network safety and security. The ministry has clarified cyber safety and security as a prerequisite for e-government development and digital transformation.
At the high-level meeting held at the sidelines of the 75th UN General Assembly, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi said, “Everyone has the right to get a fair and equal opportunity to win the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Indonesian Foreign Minister was representing the President of the Republic of Indonesia and echoed the sentiments of his speech at the 75th UN High School General Debate Session, that “no one is truly safe until everyone is safe”.
Entitled “The Challenge of a Lifetime: Ensuring Universal Access to Covid-19 Health Technologies”, the gathering was convened by the Government of Costa Rica. Indonesia appreciated Costa Rica’s Solidarity Call to Action initiative, which seeks to unify the science, intellectual property and data needed to fight COVID-19, as well as the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool under the framework of the WHO World Health Organization.
The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) will compile, in one place, pledges of commitment made under the Solidarity Call to Action to voluntarily share COVID-19 health technology-related knowledge, intellectual property and data.
The Pool will draw on relevant data from existing mechanisms, such as the Medicines Patent Pool and the UN Technology Bank-hosted Technology Access Partnership. Shared knowledge, intellectual property and data will leverage our collective efforts to advance science, technology development and broad sharing of the benefits of scientific advancement and its applications based on the right to health.
In her speech, the Indonesian Foreign Minister emphasised the need to bridge the gap between countries ad level the access field. With significant limitations that developing countries face in accessing medicines, vaccines and health technology, it is the need of the hour for all countries to work collaboratively. Three things would ensure that global access becomes a reality:
- Maintain solidarity and political commitment from all countries for handling the pandemic.
- Establish partnerships with all stakeholders, including the government, researchers, and the medical industry.
- Provide global governance to ensure that health technology is available and accessible to everyone”.
She was confident with the three basic pillars in place everyone would be able to enjoy the same benefits from advances in science and health technology for handling COVID-19. These three conditions would be key to the production of affordable vaccines and medicines.
A genuine partnership between the public sector, research and corporates will enable sound policy-making as well as accelerate the production and distribution of medicines, vaccines, equipment and technology. While these partnerships must exist at a national level, an international network of pharmaceutical companies and the health industry is critical. All such efforts and partnerships will be effective if flexibility is available in international regulations and intellectual property rights.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister also expressed Indonesia’s support for the COVAX global initiative which strives to provide vaccines for all countries in the world, as well as conveying Indonesia’s readiness, through the Biofarma company, to participate in producing vaccines for national and global needs, if the due diligence has been carried out successfully.
Indonesia is planning to aggressively tackle the pandemic in the country and is also looking to recover in the post-COVID era. The Ministry of Health will receive Rp 84.3 trillion (US$ 5.7 billion) of state budget allocation in 2021 according to Joint Letter of Ministry of Finance and Minister of National Development Planning (Bappenas).
The Ministry of Health will also receive an allocation of the economic recovery of Rp 25.4 trillion (US$ 1.7 billion) that will be used for COVID-19 vaccine procurement, immunisation, facility and infrastructure of health research and development and budget allocation for Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan).
The Minister of Health confirmed that the budget allocation would be spent on six health priority issues in 2021 (called the National Program). The national program comprises of the national health insurance (JKN), maternal and child mortality reduction, stunting prevention, communicable and non-communicable disease control and health security strengthening for the pandemic response, improvement in the public movement for a healthy life (GERMAS), and national health system strengthening.
The Ministry of Health is determined to conduct programs and priorities to support the President’s vision and mission, particularly in TBC and COVID-19 control and health security strengthening.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority – IMDA implemented Singapore’s nationwide e-invoicing network, now called InvoiceNow, in 2019 to help businesses improve efficiency, reduce cost, receive payment faster, facilitate cross-border business transactions, and reduce our impact on the environment by using lesser paper invoices.
To help even more businesses digitalise, IMDA has partnered DBS, OCBC and UOB to develop solutions, leveraging the nationwide e-invoicing network, InvoiceNow, with the PayNow e-payment system.
InvoiceNow and PayNow both uses the Unique Entity Number to help businesses send or receive invoices and collect payments easily. By registering for both services, business can then enjoy business efficiency, cost reduction and seamless payments.
Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, IMDA, said: “Within the past three months, we have seen an exponential increase in businesses coming onboard e-invoicing. Today, there are about 25,000 companies on InvoiceNow, up from 1,000 at the beginning of the year.”
“Our aim is to drive further adoption to benefit more businesses, as IMDA leads Singapore’s digital transformation in this sector. We are excited to partner with DBS, OCBC and UOB, to co-create innovative solutions to strengthen for businesses that will fortify Singapore’s competitiveness in the global digital economy.”
Moving Towards a Unified e- Payments and Cashless Society
Mr John Laurens, Group Head of Global Transaction Services, DBS Bank, said, “Driving interoperability of our digital solutions is key to unlocking Singapore’s Smart Nation ambition, and this is where the integration of InvoiceNow with PayNow shows great potential as it dovetails with the nation’s push towards a unified e-payments system and cashless society.”
Digitalisation has become priority since Pandemic
Mr Melvyn Low, Head, Global Transaction Banking, OCBC Bank, said, “Before the pandemic, there might have been SMEs who put digitalisation on the backburner but now, there is no question that going digital is a necessity. InvoiceNow and PayNow in particular, are two initiatives that have seen strong take up from our business banking customers.”
E-invoicing – making payments quicker and businesses more efficient
Mr Mervyn Koh, Country Head of Business Banking Singapore, UOB, said, “Since the launch of the nationwide e-invoicing framework, we have been helping our customers realise the tangible benefits that e-invoicing can bring to their business, including greater cash flow certainty. With the expansion of the PayNow model to cover payments for e-invoices under InvoiceNow, businesses will be able to receive payments more quickly and thus, shorten the time taken from invoicing to receiving payment.”
Businesses that register for InvoiceNow on or before 31 December 2020 can receive an E-Invoicing Registration Grant of $200, which will be paid out through PayNow Corporate. The grant was announced in March 2020 as part of the Resilience Budget and $10 million has been set aside for the Grant.
Missions With Monty is a quest game developed at North Carolina State University that uses Monty the Monitor Lizard to guide students through complex climate problems. The game will be adapted to Australian conditions thanks to a University Global Partnerships Network (UGPN) grant that allows a partnership with institutions around the world to develop solutions to a universal issue.
The project leader, Associate Professor Sarah Howard, said the game was aimed at primary school students in Years 5 and 6. Students may be given a challenge such as why a population of frogs has migrated away from a pond, she said.
They may have to learn about the frog, its environment, what’s happened to the pond’s catchment and what’s happened to the weather. With the help of Monty, they encounter scientists, points of data and other animals to investigate the issue.
The funding would adapt the game to Australian conditions, such as drought and fire, and with Australian animals. With the help of researchers from the SMART Infrastructure Facility, new ways of capturing data from the game would be developed, giving teachers valuable insights into the ways that their students learned.
Finally, new ways would be developed to allow international collaboration among students, building on the existing framework for collaboration within the classroom. The interdisciplinary nature of the project – educational psychology, educational technology, computer science, science education, and design – provides the potential for increased faculty collaboration across institutions.
This process has the potential to provide a model for data collection and international teacher and student multi-national collaboration that could then be extended to any educational context. The UGPN aims to develop sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer through an active international network of selected Universities collaborating in research, learning and teaching to benefit global society.
The program will develop a range of jointly enabled innovative solutions to world problems based on shared research expertise and a mobility strategy for increasing the number of faculty, staff and students with international experience. The UGPN annual conference will be held in Wollongong next year.
The need for education around climate change in Australia is pertinent. The global economic and environmental impact of wildfires is likely to worsen as a result of human-induced climate change and land-use patterns, according to a team of international fire researchers.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Reviews: Earth & Environment, researchers describe global and regional trends in fire activity and project what is expected to come down the pipeline in the future. The interaction between climate, vegetation and fire occurrence has led to distinct fire regimes, which are characterised by their frequency, seasonality, geographic scale and pattern, and environmental effects.
Past climate change is known to have influenced the extent, frequency and intensity of landscape fires by affecting vegetation patterns, fuel abundance and drought. Currently, human-induced climate change is altering rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures, resulting in more frequent extreme fire events.
Extremely intense fires can trigger the development of pyrocumulonimbus storms, which are powerful convective thunderstorms that can reach the stratosphere and create localised weather, including rain, hail, lightning and pyro-tornadoes.
In Australia, the difficulties in separating the influences of climate change from the effects of stopping traditional Aboriginal fire management practices following European colonisation in the early 19th century.
However, the effects of climate change are evident in the increasing number of extreme fire events – including the Black Summer fires of 2019-20 during which 35 pyrocumulonimbus storms were recorded, doubling the known records of these extreme events. This spike in fire intensity and severity has also been recorded at various other locations around the world, including Chile, Canada, Portugal and California.
Development of these fire management interventions requires transdisciplinary research that combines insights from natural and social sciences, engineering and technology, and humanities. Such research is also prerequisite for improving global and regional fire models of future fire activity.