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An incubatee at the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab has announced the launch of a new solution. It is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.

Solution description

The solution, called the NB-IoT/LoRa Dual-detection parking occupancy sensing system, can accurately sense the occupancy status of parking space or spaces through its fully integrated dual-detection from Radar/mmWave and magnetometer sensing.

Equipped with leading NB-IoT and LoRa WAN technologies, the end-to-end system is easy to use and can be rapidly deployed. The solution also provides cross-system integration for various payment methods including self-help automatic payment, membership payment, and on-site payment. Data is displayed on the parking operation platform including parking space status, vehicle status, turnover rate, illegal parking behaviour and much more.

Application Areas

The solution was designed to enhance areas including City Management as well as Transport.

Technologies Used

The innovation is equipped with the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Use case

The solution has the following benefits:

  • Privacy: the system does not use the camera data to identify license plates or individuals’ faces, thereby eliminating privacy concerns;
  • Low-cost: the parking timer sensor installation and maintenance costs are much lower camera installation costs;
  • Mobile app: an interconnected app has been developed to help drivers navigate the parking areas;
  • Special Parking Management:
    1. Detects and alerts users of no parking zones and U-turn area.
    2. Can Interlink with a speaker those with disabilities and for enhanced night safety parking.
    3. Charges different commercials accordingly (the system can be set to charge vehicles by number, hour, and time – for example, taxis, vehicles in temporary parking, and those in loading zone parking can all receive different rates).
    4. Detects scooter and heavy motorcycle parking spaces.
    5. Detects and manages shared parking.
    6. Can confirm whether a VIP or special user has parked in the appointed space.

The smart parking market

The global smart parking market is expected to rise from its initial estimated value of US3.38 billion in 2018 to an estimated value of US12.60 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 17.85% in the forecast period of 2019-2026. This rise in market value can be attributed to the increasing concerns of parking amid growth in the number of vehicles. The high cost of implementing and subsequent increase in the cost of the vehicles is expected to act as a restraint to the market growth.

Known as the “super project“, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Zhuhai Port has the most complex technology and the most difficult implementation in the history of Chinese bridge construction. It has 18 lanes and about 2500 parking spaces so far.

Additionally, a smart parking management system has been developed for the port. The all-in-one smart transportation solution for the car park of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Zhuhai Port includes a license plate recognition/card system, a video parking guidance system, and more to achieve unattended parking. It also has a license plate scan to go system, parking guidance and voice IP intercom. Car owners can experience rich multimedia functions, such as pictures, videos, animations, and instructional information.

Thus, as the number of vehicles continues to rise, so will the need for bigger, better, smarter parking and Hong Kong is at the epicentre of innovations in the field.

About the Smart Government Innovation Lab

In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.

The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.

The inaugural DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals at LKYGBPC will be held virtually on the 9 October 2020.

The DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans, start-ups or early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

In addition to the evaluation criteria for the LKYGBPC, qualifying applications for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize are also assessed on:

  • Clear identification of the social or environmental problem
  • Creativity in addressing the identified challenge statement and stakeholders involved
  • Ability to measure the social or environmental impact created
  • Scalability and sustainability of solution and impact

The award worth SGD 150,000 includes prize money of up to SGD 100,000 and post-competition support, such as access to DBS Foundation’s capacity building programmes, brand awareness and marketing features on DBS Foundation’s website, brand campaigns, media stories etc, the use of DBS premises when in Singapore for launch or community events and network and connection to DBS Foundation’s social enterprise alumni community and partners.

The Four Finalists are:

Bluepha — China
Fighting Plastic Pollution with the Power of Microbes

Bluepha is a microorganism company based in Beijing that has developed a bio-based and biodegradable plastic PHA to replace conventional plastics. Their innovative and patented biotech ensures low-cost industrial-scale production of PHA that degrades in natural environments, including in the ocean. The PHA developed by Bluepha can be widely applied across industries, such as packaging, textile, and toys, to replace conventional plastics.

Polybee — Singapore
Enhancing Food Security by Automating Pollination

Polybee is on a mission to increase productivity in agriculture by taking the natural process of pollination into its own hands. Since wind, insects and birds cannot operate indoors, there is no scalable solution for pollination in many urban cities. By operating autonomous mini drones using in aerial robotics and computer vision, Polybee executes precise pollination at indoor vertical farms, where there is no alternative to manual pollination. Polybee has partnered with Singapore Food Agency to initiate a commercial pilot.

Sampangan — Indonesia
Enriching Food Nutrition from Landfill Waste

Sampangan is a waste-to-carbon technology service company that aims to help local governments, agriculture areas, industrial areas, and waste transporters process waste in both solid and liquid forms safely and sustainably. Using their carbonized technology (“Magic Box”), they can convert organic and non-organic waste into active carbon or biochar. Heat radiation is used instead of full incineration making this process environmentally friendly. The biochar material can help fix farm soil and increase harvest yields in an organic and sustainable manner.

StratifiCare — Singapore
World’s First Severe Dengue Prediction Test

StratifiCare has discovered a panel of biomarkers that can determine the progress of Dengue Fever. Patients who are predicted not to progress to severe Dengue can be managed at outpatient settings, instead of bearing expenses being hospitalised. Their innovation will help reduce the over-hospitalization issue faced by medical providers and relieve healthcare burden especially in poorer Dengue-endemic developing countries.

Watch the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals

Due to the uncertainties of international travel and health considerations amid COVID-19, the inaugural DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals at LKYGBPC will be held virtually.

Date: 9 October 2020

Time: 11:45AM – 2:00PM (Singapore time, GMT +8)

Join our panel of distinguished judges for the live pitching, and don’t miss a special conversation segment with DBS Group CEO, Piyush Gupta!

Judges:
Tan Su Shan, Group Head of Institutional Banking, DBS
Nick Nash, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Asia Partners
Quek Siu Rui, Group CEO & Co-Founder, Carousell

Click here to register and watch the Finals LIVE!

Stratificare are shortlisted as one of the top 4 teams that have reached the finals of the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.

The DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans, start-ups or early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

In addition to the evaluation criteria for the LKYGBPC, qualifying applications for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize are also assessed on clear identification of the social or environmental problem, creativity in addressing the identified challenge statement and stakeholders involved, ability to measure the social or environmental impact created and the scalability and sustainability of solution and impact

The award worth SGD 150,000 includes prize money of up to SGD 100,000 and post-competition support, such as:
• Access to DBS Foundation’s capacity building programmes
• Brand awareness and marketing features on DBS Foundation’s website, brand campaigns, media stories etc.
• Use of DBS premises when in Singapore for launch or community events
• Network and connection to DBS Foundation’s social enterprise alumni community and partners

Empowering personalised medicine for tomorrow through innovative diagnostic solutions

OpenGov had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Chua – CEO, Keith Chong -COO and Tiffany Lin -CRO before they has progressed to the finals to hear about their innovative solution to a problem that affects Singaporeans on a daily basis.

StratifiCare™ was founded in 2015 with the vision of empowering personalized medicine for tomorrow through innovative diagnostic solutions. They have been shortlisted for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize for their work on the world’s first severe Dengue prediction test.

Keith Chong, COO of Stratificare said that one of the drivers behind this solution was that Dengue was something that affected their personal lives and family. And added that he believed that being able to diagnose whether it was a severe case helped reassure patients that their diagnosis was accurate, and helped with decision-making on what the next clinical steps should be.

StratifiCare has discovered a panel of biomarkers that can determine the progress of Dengue Fever. Patients who are predicted not to progress to severe Dengue can be managed at outpatient settings, instead of bearing expenses being hospitalised.

The challenge in the clinical management of Dengue is how to accurately predict which patients will go on to develop Severe Dengue in the early phase of the disease. Their innovation will help reduce the over-hospitalisation issue faced by medical providers and relieve healthcare burden, especially in poorer Dengue-endemic developing countries.

CEO Anthony Chua said that the challenge was not to solve the problem just in Singapore, but was also a solution for neighbouring countries too. When asked about go-to-market strategy their CRO Tiffany Lin said that Singapore is their main focus at the minute, with plans to distribute into Malaysia and India in the near future.

Stratificare has reached the finals of the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize which takes place on Friday 9th October.

To register for the awards ceremony please click here

OpenGov had the opportunity to speak with the founders- Johae Song and Vanessa Cunha of a company called Able on their product Lulu which has been shortlisted for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans, start-ups or early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

The passion behind the innovation

From the beginning of the conversation it is obvious that the business is passion driven. One of the founders Johae told OpenGov of two personal experiences that has spurred her on to bring the product to market. She once met with a young boy in Chile who could not speak, and when asking his parent what things he liked, the parent responded that they did not know. They could not communicate with him. So on hearing this, it made Johae even more determined to make a product that would give young people with communication challenges the chance to communicate with their family, to enable all people with communication challenges to communicate more easily, more naturally, with the aid of this AI powered solution.

Many people are isolated from their environments due to a lack of upper body motion and speaking impairment. This leads to daily challenges with communication, independence, and a social connection. Before Lulu, the product they are currently developing, there was no user-friendly assistive technology to help these people communicate more efficiently.

Tech for Good Solution

Lulu is a smart personalized assistant giving people with communication challenges the freedom to connect with the world, a new product that is focused on a hands-free smart communication system that you can download and try on your smart device.

  • Lulu is a smart companion robot for wheelchair users. Lulu is a plug-and-play robotic system, controlled by a user-friendly mobile application for people with physical and/or communication challenges.
  • Around 70 million people require wheelchairs worldwide and nearly 50 million require assistive technology to communicate effectively. The lack of suitable assistive technologies to help them to connect with the world inspired us to create a product that breaks down both mobility and communication barriers.
  • Lulu is designed to provide users with safe navigation, social interaction and smart home connectivity. Controlled hands-free through eye-tracking, Lulu’s current features include a smart camera to help users gain a broader field of vision, speech-to-text and text-to-speech to enhance communication, and smart-home connectivity allowing users to turn on and off lights with the blink of an eye.

LuLu is the first leveraging artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and AI-services to work for the disabled.

 

For more information on the Smart App visit – https://www.hi-lulu.com/

Zeleros has gone from being a competition-winning university team to becoming a cutting-edge start-up bringing the exciting Hyperloop concept to market.

OpenGov Asia recently had to the opportunity to speak with Luiz Navarro, Chief Operating Officer, Zeleros. Watch the whole interaction on OpenGov TV here!

Mr Navarro explained how the hyperloop concept is not a new concept, but in fact, it dates back to almost over 200 years when a connection was sought to make a trading route from the UK to India. There were many ideas and early-stage concepts for this but a lot of them failed as they did not have the technology to deploy them.

But fast forward 200 years to the age of Elon Musk and SpaceX – he took this concept and rebranded the Hyperloop idea. He came up with this worldwide concept under the umbrella SpaceX and invited start-ups and universities to come up with ideas and technology proposals for the Hyperloop.

He went on to tell us that one of those working hard on this concept at the time was the Zeleros Founders and former University graduates in Valencia. They had competed in various competitions and won many awards in this field of expertise.

They were team leaders at “Hyperloop UPV”, University project awarded at SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2015, an event organized by Elon Musk, competing against world’s most prestigious engineering universities. Recently, the team achieved top 10 at the SpaceX competition in Los Angeles from among more than 300 teams worldwide. Their prototype “The Atlantic II” became the first Spanish hyperloop in history, combining autonomous propulsion with a new passive levitation system.

From the success and recognition of the technology at the research stage and in the competitive arena, they have decided to take a step forward and launch a new start-up to revolutionise ground transportation: Zeleros

Now a few years later, they have 25 people working full time collaborating with first-class collaborators internationally. This business started with three guys being courageous and having the passion to take the leap from research and competitions to bringing their business to market. Zeleros is one in six companies in the world that are working on deploying Hyperloop into the market.

The aim of Zeleros is to design and develop new hyperloop technologies to achieve a more efficient and sustainable transportation, which will allow to travel at 1000 km/h with renewable energies, combining the best from the aeronautics and the railway industries by means of a system of depressurized tubes.

The Future – leading the way in the development of hyperloop technologies

The Zeleros vision is to bring this to the next stage. By simplifying systems bring the power onboard the vehicle and reducing the cost of infrastructure call staff they are looking at taking away the complexity from the track

With this cutting-edge technology, there is a lot of work to do before realising the finished product. Currently, they are prototyping each subsystem which includes propulsion, levitation, braking etc.

By 2021 they hope to have a prototype ready which is 1/3 of the scale, 10 metres in length and running on a 3-kilometre test run at approximately 500 kilometres per hour so that they are able to validate the technology.

By 2024 they hope to start construction and by 2030 they hope to have the first fully operational Hyperloop working. In order to reach this final stage, there is a lot of fine-tuning and validation involved and they need to meet standards be certified.

They have partnered with countries such as Canada and France and they are working closely with the EU. They are involved in a technical committee in the EU dedicated to the Hyperloop and falls under the umbrella of the railway industry. The creation of this technical committee has given Hyperloop its own identity.

Regional hotspots for Hyperloop development and deployment

At the moment they are working closely with key players in Europe. This is what they consider where core development takes place. call star it is logical as they are unable to integrate more in terms of infrastructure. Once considered safe in the EU it opens the opportunity to roll out quickly to the rest of the world.

Other hotspots identified are routes in the Middle East. This region is ideal to roll out the technology, where financial support is readily available, which in turn could accelerate the deployment of Hyperloop in this region.

In Asia, Japan has its own technology with the bullet and has invested billions into this national infrastructure so it would not make sense for them to look at investing in the Hyperloop technology.

But in China where they have over more than 35,000 kilometres of real which is more than the rest of the world combined opportunities in this country would really accelerate past to market.

Another great option to consider is to deploy Hyperloop to connect Singapore and Kuala-Lumpur. The potential is great, shortening the travel time until 30 minutes (35 including boarding).

The Hyperloop is an innovative solution in terms of connectivity around the world, mobility, and timesaving travel.

In terms of sustainability, it a real viable alternative to aviation. It presents an opportunity to reduce air traffic congestion which doubles every 15 years. The Hyperloop will reduce 7 million tonnes of CO2 per year compared to air transport.

Mr Navarro jokingly concluded they are “just crazy people trying to change the paradigm of long-distance travel and with the Hyperloop it will be there to serve that purpose”

The company have already won multiple awards but because they are working so hard and so fast on this project, Mr Navarro said they sometimes have little time to appreciate the things that they have achieved so far.

Watch the whole interaction on OpenGov TV here!

 

Open Gov Asia recently had the opportunity to speak with the Co founder of RESYNC, a cloud-based energy management solution, Dr Jyantika Soni. RESYNC have been shortlisted for this years DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans / start-ups / early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

“The grid and buildings are evolving faster than ever, with localised generation using solar on their rooftops, electric vehicles in their parking, dynamic pricing from the grid, and a ton of data that can be collected without knowing how it can be utilised. The more troublesome thing is one user is seldom the same as another.”

RESYNC looked at how the grid was changing in areas which lack infrastructure and other expanding urban areas such as Singapore. They looked at diversification and the huge reliance on unsustainable sources of energy and the changing dynamics in the grid required a modern solution and that’s when RESYNC was incepted.

“We saw that multiple mixes of energy in the ecosystem can be very disruptive to the grid and at RESYNC we’re trying to solve that using an AI driven energy cloud which will ensure reliability and resilience to whatever source you are connected to” said Dr Soni.

This is where RESYNC comes in and solves the problem with a simple goal in mind. They figure out how to run a customer’s energy system at the lowest cost possible while maintaining reliability and sustainability when or if applicable. Taking into account your energy assets, both generating like solar and battery and consuming like air-conditioning and electric vehicles, grid pricing, and your appetite to keep your energy supply carbon neutral.

“It is not just about controlling where your energy is coming from but how you are consuming it as well” added Dr Soni

Our machine learning algorithms figure out your evolving consumption patterns and run it through an optimization algorithm to run your electrical systems at optimal cost and energy-efficiency. Using our on-ground real-time control, we provide action on the insights generated by the machine learning algorithms. And all of this can be visualized and analysed from our platform.

RESYNC provides sustainable solutions through forecasting, load shifting and developing a long term energy saving plan.

It is extremely important to forecast and to understand the demand profile of the business. If the only way you get to know about your peak usage is through your electricity, then you are already too late to take corrective actions. It’s essential to be able to forecast, with reasonable accuracy, your maximum consumption.

Load Shifting – with an established platform of ongoing measurement and management, businesses can take energy savings to the next level. Most business have peak as well as off-peak hours. By spreading the electricity usage over longer durations, businesses can lower their maximum energy demand. And RESYNC’s Energy management system solution will help automate this process without compromising on the operating activities.

A comprehensive long-term energy saving plan enables much better capital investment decisions. Armed with detailed data and realistic energy consumption estimates, managers can rationally weigh the benefits of energy-efficient new equipment versus their purchase costs and other related expenses  such as decommissioning and disposal cost, production downtime, etc.

Business continuity through the pandemic and future plans

The business has been successful even during the pandemic, “the plug and play aspect really plays to our advantage especially during these times when movements are really restricted but the technology is not.” They are able to ship the product and bring customers on remotely

RESYNC are involved in many projects across Asia such as India Singapore and Indonesia. They operate in the B2B area selling technology to reliable energy developers, for example, Sembcorp in Singapore. Many of the companies they are working with already work with government to improve real time energy efficiency. So far they have been making strides towards many strategic partnerships with utility providers in the region.

In the future they hope to expand to Europe and further in Middle East. They are currently in discussions in the Middle East, regarding energy monitoring for smart buildings. In Europe they have been a finalist for Seedstars and they have deservedly been  a recipient of many awards internationally. And now shortlisted for this years DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize.

The DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans of start-ups or  early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.

In addition to the evaluation criteria for the LKYGBPC, qualifying applications for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize are also assessed on:

  • Clear identification of the social / environmental problem
  • Creativity in addressing the identified challenge statement and stakeholders involved
  • Ability to measure the social / environmental impact created
  • Scalability and sustainability of solution and impact

The award worth SGD 150,000 includes prize money of up to SGD 100,000 and post-competition support, such as:

  • Access to DBS Foundation’s capacity building programmes
  • Brand awareness and marketing features on DBS Foundation’s website, brand campaigns, media stories etc.
  • Use of DBS premises when in Singapore for launch or community events
  • Network and connection to DBS Foundation’s social enterprise alumni community and partners

One of the start-ups to be shortlisted this year is SenzIQ Pte Ltd.

OpenGov recently had the opportunity to have a virtual chat with three of its founders Mr Azeem Khan, Mr CH Kong and Professor Rajesh Balan to find out more about their solution, its technology, how their products will improve sustainability, and plans for the future.

Back to where it all began

SenzIQ Pte Ltd has an interesting story, it all began with researchers at the Singapore Management University’s (SMU) LiveLabs Urban Lifestyle Innovation Platform, or LiveLabs for short.

LiveLabs was launched on 5 November 2012 and was funded by the National Research Foundation Singapore and run via the Interactive Digital Media Programme Office.

LiveLabs was conceived as a testbed to trial research prototypes in real-life environments. It ran for seven years, from 2012 until 2019

Among the technologies developed at LiveLabs, the one that received the most traction was the LiveLabs Indoor Location Tracking & Analytics solution, which allows venue operators to conduct indoor analytics of how people move inside indoor spaces using just Wi-Fi.

They have turned data from smartphones, wearable devices and the physical environment into powerful insights using advanced sensor technology and real-time analytics.

The technology from LiveLabs is now entering a new phase, in the form of a new startup founded by Professor Balan to commercialise the technology, called SenzIQ Pte. Ltd. Professor Balan is the former LiveLabs co-director, and is SMU Associate Professor of Information Systems.

Understanding how people move through spaces

Mr CH Kong, CMO of SenzIQ says it has one mission: “help businesses understand how people move through their spaces”.

To do this they can track each individual’s movement across space and time in an indoor location. This data is aggregated to understand how people utilise and move indoors.

SenzIQ is an Indoor Location Tracking & Analytics solution, which allows venue operators to conduct indoor analytics of how people move inside indoor spaces using just Wi-Fi.

The solution provides both retrospective insights, such as heat maps, visit durations and group sizes; and predictive insights, such as the locations they are likely to visit next.

The Technology

The system utilizes the enterprise Wi-Fi networks of businesses to monitor the location of Wi-Fi based devices such as mobile phones and laptops.

The technology uses public Wi-Fi networks to track the location of smartphones in real-time as they move around. The data is fed back to a dashboard that building owners can then use to understand how people interact with the space and manage their operations and logistics accordingly.

The devices are a proxy for the person in most cases therefore tracking the Wi-Fi device provides an insight into the movement of the person carrying that device.

The unique proposition of the technology is that it is a pure software play, and this enables it to work with most enterprise Wi-Fi networks without infrastructure augmentation or modification.

Optimising buildings and office spaces and analysing traffic flow at events

Based on this technology, they have developed two separate products. One deals with space analytics and the other with event analytics.

The space analytics product helps offices understand the usage of key spaces such as meeting rooms, suggests measures to improve the utilization based on actual occupancy and proactively implement approved measures.

“For example, in a university, it is very important to figure out where to put your seminar rooms, meeting rooms and study spaces, and to know whether your meeting rooms are underutilised or over utilised,” Professor Balan said.

The event analytics product helps event organizers study, compare and contrast and run what-if analysis of layouts and movement traffic patterns during events.

Since both products are part of the workflows of the businesses utilizing them, it is expected these products to become a key component in the value.

With the use of these technologies, venue partners such as malls, convention centres, office campuses and airports, will enable businesses to customize and deliver relevant location specific messages to their customers.

This personalized location specific incentives allow customers market leadership through innovative technology driven solutions.

“From our own research and research papers published by Gartner and others, we know this is likely to be a potentially huge market worldwide. Indoor location tracking technologies alone is estimated to be worth USD $12B by 2021.”

“So far the technology has been deployed in major university campuses in Singapore, including SMU, in malls as well as at the Suntec Convention Centre, and at tourist attractions such as the Singapore National Museum and on Sentosa Island”, said Professor Balan Rajesh, Co-Founder, SenzIQ Pte Ltd.

Space optimisation driving sustainability

By analysing the use of public and private spaces, ‘Smart Buildings’ can use these data insights to reduce energy consumption, optimise the functionality of the space and identify opportunities to make the building more productive and efficient. This all leads to creating more sustainable spaces and buildings.

This is an attractive solution to organisations wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, to building developers wanting to reduce costs and create a more sustainable option, and for many existing large premises wanting to better understand how they can use their space more effectively and efficiently.

The next stage

Years of research has been done, many  many years of expertise has been invested into the technology, the products and now starting the business – the next stage now is to accelerate the solution to market.

With the HSBC-SMU Sustainability & Innovation Grant, the funding can be used to do just that – fast track the SenzIQ journey to developing their sustainable solution and business model.

OpenGov Asia has a rich tradition of recognising excellence in the Public Sector and Financial Services Industry.

As partners in organisations’ digital transformation journey, OpenGov Asia is eager to stay updated and informed with recipients of the Recognition of Excellence awards.

Catherine Anne P. Bautista-Casas, First Vice President and Director, Blockchain & Fintech Business Development, UnionBank

With this in mind, OpenGov Asia caught up with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) to learn more about their journey in leveraging blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in financial services.

UnionBank launched a two-way virtual currency ATM back in February 2019 that allows clients to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for fiat (Philippine peso).

Cryptocurrency as a mode of exchange is quite prevalent in the Philippines, so this ATM is a significant step forward in establishing a regulated and simple method of exchanging virtual currency.

We spoke with Catherine Anne P. Bautista – Casas, UnionBank’s First Vice President and Director for Blockchain and Fintech Business Development.

Casas explained that they initially set up the ATM with the idea of gaining an understanding of how customers would respond to it and to learn from the bank’s first foray into digital assets.

Since the launch of the virtual currency ATM early last year, UnionBank has unveiled a slew of blockchain-enabled products and initiatives including the launch of PHX stablecoin pegged to the Philippine peso; and piloted a cross-border remittance transaction from Singapore to a rural bank in the Philippines.

During its inception, the ATM was initially linked to Bitcoin. However, after seeing the response from its customers, the bank has plans to diversify to other kinds of cryptocurrencies like Ether, Ripple, etc.

The initiative coming from a major bank is bound to boost the public confidence in blockchain and distributed ledger technology-applications

Using cryptocurrency as a mode of exchange can:

  • Be more affordable in sending remittances;
  • Provide financial inclusion to a large chunk of the population that does not have a bank account; and
  • Shorten the process of converting cash to virtual currency from the typical processing time of a day to near real-time.

Moreover, the user experience of the ATM is simple and seamless. Users only need a UnionBank account to be able to use the virtual currency ATM. There are also clearly laid out steps for buying and selling cryptocurrency.

UnionBank sees a lot of value in blockchain technology and plans to explore, pilot and potentially roll-out more use cases. It believes that it is a forward-looking technology that can serve their customers well and promote financial inclusion.

The Philippines is a country that is proactive with crypto regulations and was among the first nations to recognize it as an asset class.

The deployment of regulated crypto ATMs could foster mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, build investor confidence and help develop the local cryptocurrency sector.

OpenGov Asia appreciates and congratulates UnionBank for its innovative initiative and wishes them the best for this project.

Change Makers of Tomorrow - Bioo

Meet the Change Makers of Tomorrow and listen to his story about producing electricity from plants.