Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said the Vietnam government has recognised that developing the digital economy is one of the key tasks in enhancing the competitiveness of the economy.
With that in mind, the government is aiming to create a national database system and launch a national public service portal that connects with local portals to monitor and enhance public service delivery.
The idea of building an e-Government started in 2000. In September 2018, a National Commission for e-Government was established whose objective is to move towards having a digital economy and digital society. After 18 years, quite a lot of positive changes in technology application have been reported in most administrative offices nationwide.
Information technology has been applied in public administrative service centres in 39 out of 64 cities and provinces across the country. In these localities, state agencies now share data with each other, most notably in the fields of taxation, customs services, social insurance and healthcare. However, it is still not at the desired level.
Data Fundamentals critical in the success of rolling out E-Government strategy
Sharing data is not a new issue, but a very important one for Vietnam government as it enables the formation of close links between the central Government and local governments. Although, there is still a long way to go.
There are many issues that need to be addressed. First is an institutional issue, currently the government has no framework or regulations on what type of documents that administrative Government agencies should be sharing.
Secondly they do not have “foundation data” for e-Government, even basic national data on the population or land. And what they do have in not always in electronic format. And thirdly they need to ensure a secure foundation for all data.
“In Vietnam, we’ll have a fully fledged e-Government soon. However, at the beginning, we’ll focus efforts to put the information into electronic format. For example, we have already launched the National Single Window, the ASEAN Single Window, and the establishment of public administrative centres in cities and provinces nationwide.” said Mr Mai Tien Dung in a recent interview.
Government uses own experience and international success stories to create national database proposal
He also stated that with lessons learned from other countries and from their own country, they have come up with a proposal on the creation of a national database to submit to the Prime Minister for approval.
Centralised database to make government more efficient
The minister said that he was confident that when the e-Government is fully operational, it will help save a lot of time on meetings and paperwork.
For the time being, we should develop a centralised database as soon as possible as at present, many of our data sets are being maintained separately by different Government agencies.
He also remarked that “what’s more important is the Government wants to provide public services to the public online.”
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).
A press release has stated Vietnam will universalise 5G through producing 5G devices with quality and reasonable prices in 2021, as developing 5G networks is one of the key directions on improving the capacity of digital infrastructure for national digital transformation.
According to the Minister of Information and Communications, Nguyen Manh Hung, the use of 5G handsets produced by Vietnam is a measure to help enhance network security and safety. To implement this, one of the solutions is to research and master the design and manufacture of 5G network equipment and chips.
State-run Viettel Group’s Viettel High-Tech Industries Corporation and Vingroup’s VinSmart Research and Manufacture JSC in October signed a cooperation agreement on the development of a 5G gNodeB base station system.
Earlier, the first device incorporating 5G technology produced by Vietnam was successfully tested. According to the Centre for Telecommunications Quality and Measurement under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), Vsmart Aris 5G had been tested many times and gave positive results.
Through many technical tests, 5G speed on Vsmart smartphones using Sub6 band is nearly eight times higher than 4G and promises to continue to increase when VinSmart applies mmWave band in the coming time.
The successful development of the Vsmart Aris 5G smartphone shows that Vietnam is ready to master advanced technologies. This is the basis for asserting that the country can completely accelerate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
MIC and the Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority also decided to shut down old-tech wavebands so that network operators can optimise operations and reserve frequency resources for new technologies.
As OpenGov reported earlier, MIC has recently allowed two mobile operators, Viettel and MobiFone, to test and commercialise 5G in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as it is a good foundation to bring Vietnam into the group of the leading countries in the world in deploying 5G.
Unlike the previous test, which was heavily technical, the target audience of this test was mobile subscribers. This is an important test to help local operators evaluate the technology and the market before officially implementing commercialization of 5G in Vietnam.
These are all concrete steps that show Vietnam’s approach to 5G development towards mass commercialisation by 2021. Mani Manimohan, head of Digital Infrastructure Policy and Regulations at GSMA, predicted that over the next 5 years, more than one billion people worldwide will use mobile data, the average consumption per month would be 4-5 times more than previously, and 5G is an effective technology to meet that need.
In addition to users, industries need 5G applications. This will be the key to the computing power and automation of factories. Also, Manihohan said that governments should see the mobile ecosystem with a scale of more than US$ 1 trillion as a driving force for development.
Meanwhile, an industry expert noted that 5G will change all industries. Manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare industries will change drastically thanks to the presence of robots and 5G information transmission systems. Vietnam possesses the essentials to develop science and information technology and is expected to become a developed economy by 2045.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced this week that eligible non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure from February 2021.
This applies to non-bank financial institutions that are licenced as major payment institutions under the Payment Services Act, they will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) and PayNow.
FAST is an electronic funds transfer service that enables customers of participating entities to transfer Singapore dollar funds from one entity to another instantly.
PayNow is an overlay central addressing service that runs on top of the FAST payment system. PayNow allows consumers and businesses to make instant payments across accounts using a proxy such as a mobile number, NRIC/FIN number, or Unique Entity Number (UEN). FAST and PayNow is also available 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Direct connection to FAST and PayNow will enable users of NFI e-wallets to make real-time funds transfers between bank accounts and e-wallets as well as across different e-wallets. Currently, most e-wallets require the use of debit or credit cards to top-up funds, and funds transfers between e-wallets are not possible.
Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS said, “Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s e-payments journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their e-wallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts.”
“Our vision to enable complete real-time payments interoperability will now become a reality. Adoption of e-payments will become even more simple for individuals and businesses. MAS thanks the members of the DFWG for their spirit of partnership that brought to fruition this major milestone for e-payments in Singapore.”
Businesses that partner any of the 23 FAST or 9 PayNow banks, or e-wallets that have traditionally been closed-loop ecosystems will soon be able to receive real-time payments from other users of e-wallets or mobile banking applications that will be joining FAST or PayNow. This will enable businesses to access a larger market of consumers than before for receiving e-payments instantly and seamlessly.
NFIs will be able to connect directly through a new Application Programming Interface (API) payment gateway developed by the Direct FAST Working Group (DFWG), with guidance from the Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA) and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which govern FAST and PayNow respectively.
The API payment gateway is better geared to the technology architecture of banks and NFIs, and can also be used by other banks and NFIs in future.
An Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Technologies Park (ARTPARK), set up in Bengaluru, will promote technology innovations in AI and robotics.
The government expects it will lead to a positive societal impact by executing ambitious mission-mode research and development (R&D) projects in healthcare, education, mobility, infrastructure, agriculture, retail, and cybersecurity, focusing on problems specific to India.
ARTPARK, is a not-for-profit foundation established by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru with support from AI Foundry in a public-private model. With seed funding of US$ 22 million from the Department of Science & Technology (DST), under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), it will bring about a collaborative consortium of partners from industry, academia, and government bodies. This will lead to cutting-edge innovations in technologies, standards, products, services, and intellectual properties.
According to a press release, ARTPARK will develop AI and robotics facilities to support technology innovations and capacity building through the advanced skills training of students and professionals in these areas. Some of these facilities will be key enablers for whole new sets of technologies, products, and services. It will develop DataSetu, which will enable confidentiality and a privacy-preserving framework to share data and run analytics spurring the data-sharing ecosystem and create a data marketplace, boosting AI applications and solutions.
Another service will be BhashaSetu, which will enable real-time Indic language translation, of both speech-to-speech and speech-to-text. This will further unlock the economic potential of the country, allowing all Indian citizens to equitably participate in the economic progress, regardless of their language, the press release claimed.
Professor Ashutosh Sharma, DST Secretary, said, “The National Mission ICPS with its 25 Hubs has a unique architecture that envisages a strong collaboration and co-ownership among the triple helix of industry, academia, and government with full flexibility. Generous additional support of the Government of Karnataka to the ARTPARK Hub brings extraordinary value in increasing its effectiveness, reach, and use. It also sets a template of centre-state partnership in the frontier areas of technology– a theme which will receive focus in the soon to be released Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020.”
“Indian academia has been carrying out cutting edge technology research in various domains. However, we have had systemic issues in moving the results of this research from university laboratories into the outside world. ARTPARK would go a long way in establishing a template for addressing this need,” Professor Govindan Rangarajan, Director IISc pointed out.
Robin Sukhia, Secretary-General, and President of the Sweden India Business Council pointed out how the not-for-profit organisation will enable international co-creation at a higher and deeper level to help solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges using technology in a unique way.
ARTPARK will also run a novel ARTPARK Venture Studio that will mentor technopreneurs who will take the outputs of the mission-mode projects to launch new startups.
As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, India is 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 artificial intelligence. Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to US$ 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035. India hopes to stand out in the international community not just as a leader in the Artificial Intelligence field, but also as a model to show the world how to responsibly direct AI for social empowerment. The nation has robust plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive recently gave her much-anticipated fourth Policy Address on 25 November 2020, one report notes. In it, she pledged to uphold “one country, two systems” and with a promise to revive the special administrative region’s economy battered by social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hong Kong’s chief executive has pledged to roll out 200 new initiatives during Wednesday’s annual policy address, with sources saying the Greater Bay Area integration plan will take centre stage – even though the city’s leader is expected to make it clear that untraced coronavirus cases must hit zero before any new cross-border measures can proceed.
Sources stated that among these initiatives is a youth employment project that aims to create thousands of jobs for young Hongkongers in the nine Guangdong cities included in the Greater Bay Area scheme, Beijing’s ambitious plan to integrate the cities with Hong Kong and Macau to form an economic powerhouse.
Job opportunities would be offered in sectors ranging from technology and finance to cultural and creative industries.
Insiders also said the CE might unveil some modest improvements to the Stock Connect schemes between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen, such as allowing more Hong Kong-listed biotech firms to take part, and promoting private equity funds, family offices and real estate investment trusts.
HKSTP’s response to the CE’s 2020 policy address
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) supports various innovation and technology (I&T) related measures outlined in The Chief Executive’s 2020 Policy Address. Such measures will promote closer collaboration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and foster the development of Hong Kong into an international I&T hub.
The Park welcomed the initiative for the Corporation to manage certain areas of the Innovation and Technology Zone in Futian, Shenzhen. This will support institutions and enterprises to start their business in the GBA, enhancing the I&T value chain and overall development of the ecosystem.
Biomedical technology is one of the strategic focuses of HKSTP. There are approximately 150 biotech companies in the Park, which have grown significantly over the past few years. With the inclusion of pre-revenue biotechnology companies listed in Hong Kong and stocks listed on the Mainland Sci-Tech Innovation Board meeting certain prescribed criteria in the scope of eligible securities under the mutual market access programmes, it will create more opportunities for local biotechnology companies to raise funds for research. The Park believes this initiative will be beneficial to promote venture capital investment and accelerate the R&D process of biotech companies.
On talent development, HKSTP announced earlier this year the launch of HKSTP InnoAcademy and the Technology Leaders of Tomorrow Programme, which has received an encouraging response. HKSTP will fully support the government’s Global STEM Professorship Scheme and Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme, helping young talent pursue a career in the I&T sector, experience and capture opportunities offered in the region, and at the same time expand the talent pool.
HKSTP welcomes the upcoming Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0 to further accelerate smart city development. HKSTP will continue to serve as a living lab and work alongside the government’s plan to drive the application of technologies in key areas including 5G, sensors, data, AI and robotics, and IoT, supporting relevant industries and application developers. HKSTP will also support the government’s drive for Art-Tech which will boost the application of technology in arts and creative industries.
The Chairman of HKSTP stated that under the impact of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, local start-ups have shown their capabilities and adaptability. He noted that HKSTP strives to empower partner companies to capitalise on the opportunities in the GBA and overseas, as well as to strengthen partnerships and networks.
HKSTP believes that I&T will be the driving force for industry growth in the new normal, powering the growth of new economies and the domestic and international dual circulation. HKSTP will continue its efforts together with ecosystem partners in nurturing I&T talent, accelerating R&D and commercialisation of innovation.
The 2020 Vietnam Artificial Intelligence Festival (AI4VN) opened on 27 November in Ho Chi Minh City with the theme of AI and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jointly held by the Ministry of Science and Technology, over 500 leading Vietnamese and foreign professionals in the field attended the two-day event. AI is considered to be one of the core technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, with many countries having recognised its significant impact across all social aspects.
According to a media report, Vietnam is no exception and the event was expected to drive the development of AI in the country by connecting elements within the ecosystem, from research institutes and universities to enterprises, technology firms, start-up companies, and the AI community.
The gathering also aimed to promote the research and application of AI in various sectors such as healthcare, education, business, trade, finance, and agriculture. It was also an opportunity for business executives to adopt a pioneering role in the development and application of technological solutions to help their companies stand firm against the varied impacts of the pandemic.
During the two days, there were be six workshops on AI in banking-finance, AI in healthcare, AI in enterprises, AI in human resource training, building the AI ecosystem in Ho Chi Minh City, and computing infrastructure for AI.
The Youth Startup Forum also opened in Hanoi on the same day. Taking place amid global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was part of an emerging nation eager to display the dynamism of its startup ecosystem among investors/investment funds, enterprises, and experts worldwide via virtual events.
Themed ‘Respond – Transform – Breakthrough’, the event was structured into 12 technology villages: Medical Technology, Agricultural Technology, Educational Technology, Tourism and F&B Technology, Frontier Technology, Financial Technology, Smart Cities, Social Impact, Student Start-ups, and Local Start-ups, Community, and International village.
There were 250 startup booths, attracting nearly 200 investors, 150 corporations, enterprises, and business accelerators virtually and physically. Addressing the opening ceremony, the Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat said the startup ecosystem had entered a new and important period for development, requiring efforts and coordination from government agencies, startups, and businesses.
There is also a need to work together to innovate from working methods to mindset, developing human resources, and creating a proper competitive environment. Startups should be proactive in renewing and changing the development model to create more value, he said.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the country also recently held the Vietnam Smart City Summit, which featured the participation of around 1,000 delegates via online platforms from 27 places in provinces and cities. Vietnam has proactively joined smart city networks in the region and around the world. Currently, Vietnam has three cities, having been in the ASEAN smart city network since 2018, and nearly 40 localities implementing smart city models.
The summit was a great opportunity for management agencies, experts, speakers, and enterprises from Vietnam and abroad to share and contribute their valuable experience in the building and development of smart cities.
A finance service company recently upgraded Malaysia’s technology hardware sector to positive from neutral as they expect the sector will ride an imminent upcycle that appears to be heralded by positive growth of the global semiconductor industry.
In a note today, the research house’s analysts stated that they adopt a positive growth outlook for the tech sector due to rollout of 5G networks, the ramp-up of semiconductor components and equipment, development of sub-sectors such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and electric vehicles (EVs), and Industry 4.0.
They said that these should bode well for Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSATs), automatic test equipment (ATE)/automation manufacturers and electronics manufacturing services (EMS)/precision engineering companies.
Meanwhile, the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics projected that the global semiconductor market will grow by 6.2% year-on-year to US$452 billion in 2021 while the global industry association SEMI estimated that global semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales will grow by 11% year-on-year to US$70 billion in 2021.
It was noted that this upcycle would also be driven by the rollout of 5G networks across key cities — accelerated by the growing number of 5G-enabled devices (i.e. smartphones and IoT) and high adoption rates of 5G by key countries (i.e. China, US and South Korea).
They expect semiconductor equipment component and module suppliers, OSAT companies and ATE manufacturers to be key beneficiaries of such a favourable outlook, attributed to rising supply and demand for advanced chipsets and components (i.e. sensors).
This, in turn, would also lead to higher spending and stronger demand for semiconductor equipment. They also anticipated growth from up-and-coming tech sub-sectors — namely IoT, EVs and AI.
While such sub-sectors would be considered to be more niche (relative to the larger core semiconductor market), the firm believes there are selective opportunities for semiconductor equipment/ATE manufacturers while the booming of any tech sub-sectors would generally entail demand for components and chipsets.
Elsewhere, the progressive transition into Industry 4.0 is expected to benefit automation companies.
While the Malaysian technology realm is trading at an average forward price-to-earnings ratio (PER) of 35 times, they think the rich valuations are justified by the potential earnings growth catalysts and upsides, in tandem with the sector’s upcycle, as well as strong domestic equity fund flows.
Malaysia’s Budget 2021 will push tech investment
According to another report, following the budget announcement in early November, the tech industry saw an increased allocation for 2021. Despite some grievances on allocations towards certain sectors, the overall budget allocated to the tech industry was well-received by all parties.
The cybersecurity industry in Malaysia, in particular, was glad that RM27 million has been allocated to CyberSecurity Malaysia to heighten cybersecurity in the country. CyberSecurity Malaysia Chief Executive Officer regarded the government’s initiative as recognition to prevent the threat of cybercrime and at the same time, ensure a safe and conducive cybersecurity infrastructure in Malaysia.
He said that, based on data from the Cyber999 Aid Centre, which was operated by CyberSecurity Malaysia, 9,042 reports had been lodged up to last month, compared with 8,770 last year. He said the three most reported cases were fraud, intrusion and malicious code.
Tech firms lauded the emphasis on digital technologies and upgrading telecommunication networks which will propel Malaysia further, accommodating the needs of digital lifestyles while spurring economic growth for the nation.
The Managing Director of the Malaysia branch of a US-based networking hardware company commended the focused measures to accelerate digital transformation in various areas and industries, including the emphasis on IR4.0 technologies such as automation in the commodity and SME sector.
This includes the allocation of RM1 billion under the Industry Digitalisation Transformation Scheme and additional RM150 million under the SME Digitalisation Scheme Grant and Automation Grant that will spur the manufacturing and labour-intensive industries to rethink their strategies as reliance on human capital decreases, the impact of border control measures continues and market demands changes.