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Tech News

15-09-2017
Innovation and Technology Venture Fund

The Government has launched the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund on 15-09-2017. It is now open for application by venture capital funds to become co-investment partners (Deadline: 15-01-2018). A briefing session will be held on 03-10-2017 at the Hong Kong Science Park. Interested venture capital funds are welcome to attend.

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20-05-2018
Polish Credit Office stakes claim to first banking records on the blockchain

Polish Credit Office (Biuro Informacji Kredytowej - BIK), touted as one of the largest credit bureau in Central and Eastern Europe announced efforts to deploy a blockchain solution from Fintech startup Billon to provide secure storage of sensitive customer information.The Billon blockchain technology is claimed as a fully-GDPR compliant solution that offers total visibility, trackable history and full data integrity for any client-facing document including banking records, loan agreements, insurance claims, telephone bills and terms & conditions.BIK says it tracks nearly 140 million credit histories of over 1 million businesses and 24 million people."We believe that blockchain technology will transform client communications in the financial sector. Our solution will soon be expanded to include electronic delivery with active confirmation and remote signing of online agreements. It is also important that the solution meets legal requirements of a durable medium of information, as well as the EU GDPR requirements," said Mariusz Cholewa, President of BIK.RELATED: Countdown to GDPR: final reality checkBIK and Billon developed the solution for durable medium of information, defined by EU regulations and directives such as MIFID II and IDD directives. The partnership saw eight Polish banks participating in trials, which established that Billon's scalable blockchain architecture could publish over 150 million documents every month. This would be more than sufficient for even the largest institutions to move to paperless customer service.The solution has been approved following extensive consultation with the Polish Office of Competition (UOKiK) and Data Protection Regulator (GIODO), making it one of the world's first Regtech compliant blockchain solutions, and the only one with on-chain data storage and a mechanism enabling "the right to erase personal data". Currently, the only major alternatives to this are hardware-based archive solutions such as legacy WORM drives. Compared to them, Billon's solution offers 30% saving in TCO, ensuring minimal upfront costs."It is now possible to move away from the constraints of closed central databases to a democratic blockchain-based Internet where every user will be able to control their identity," explained Andrzej Horoszczak, CEO of Billon.According to Horoszczak, the Billon blockchain platform streamlines customer service processes and implements customer rights such as the "right to be forgotten".“We're fixing the problem of consumer data control, creating a level playing field between individuals and corporations. The benefits could affect more than the financial sector, and we anticipate it will soon be adopted by industries such as telecommunications, insurance and utilities. Our cooperation is only the first step to introducing mass blockchain technology use for trusted document management.” He concluded. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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19-05-2018
Thriving e-commerce in APAC and how brands can reduce fraud

E-commerce in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) is booming - with 71 percent of APAC consumers making an online purchase, according to a new report co-authored by IDC and Experian. On the flip side, the risk of fraud is high too, and one in five customers have already fallen victim.Based on a consumer survey across ten APAC markets namely Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the “Digital Consumer Insights 2018” report delves into how well businesses mitigate fraud risk through the eyes of their customers.Fraud onlineThe escalating possibility of online fraud is unsurprisingly perhaps, considering the sheer popularity of buying and selling products online and via mobile devices. Indeed, electronics, travel and groceries currently top the list in terms of popularity, according to the report.“Asia Pacific is one of the most dynamic digital and mobile economies in the world. “71% are buying online, and 63% who have adopted mobile payments consider them convenient,” said Ben Elliott, CEO of Experian Asia Pacific.“But as more people adopt faster and more effortless ways to shop, bank and engage with businesses, fraud exposure will increase. This is a concern with 18% of consumers in the region already experiencing fraud,” he said.Consumers in mature economies like Hong Kong and Singapore are largely more aware of fraud risks and act in a more conservative manner, says Elliot. Consumers in these regions sometimes ditch an online transaction when they perceive a potential fraud risk, compared to emerging economies like Vietnam with less fraud awareness and where purchases could be more driven by convenience.Growing awarenessOn the flip side, greater digital convenience is also linked to higher fraud exposure, which can be a problem to both consumers and businesses – the former through higher costs being passed down. The silver lining: consumers were more likely to want to adopt security measures as they become more aware of the risk of fraud, which helps businesses.In the APAC, 13% of consumers are now willing to adopt biometrics, with India (21%), Vietnam and China (both at 18%) leading the charge as early adopters. Australia (9%), Japan and New Zealand (both at 8%) are the least willing to do so.The report suggested that one of the best ways companies can protect their customers is by leveraging high-quality customer data to effectively verify transactions. This is easier said than done though, with a proportion of consumers either intentionally submitting inaccurate information to avoid disclosing data or making mistakes in the details they provide.Ultimately, this boils down into an issue of trust, and an area where marketers can contribute. They can do that by doing more to communicate the value of collected data, as well as convincing customers that they can be trusted as custodians of personal data.The full report can be accessed here (free registration).Further reading:Mobile and timing are crucial for enhanced online salesHow mobile is changing the face of selling onlineCross-border e-commerce growth will outstrip domestic online retail: study Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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19-05-2018
AI-endowed messaging app touted as record-keeping compliant

PwC in Mainland China and Hong Kong touted the new ’Intelligent Archive’ solution as a compliant mobile messaging tool with chatbot technology. It combines the abilities to record and archive business conversations on mobile messaging platforms, in a secure and compliant way, with intelligent productivity & customer service features.The May 4, 2018 circular issued by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission provides guidance on implementing controls and procedures of which staff members of intermediaries are expected to put in place when using instant messaging applications to receive client orders, among others.“Messenger apps are becoming increasingly widely used in the business world. To accommodate their clients’ communication preferences, many banks are exploring how to effectively use these applications, whilst also meeting regulatory archiving requirements,” said Andrew Watkins, Technology and Disruption Leader, PwC China and Hong Kong.The recording conversations feature developed by PwC allows companies to comply with relevant regulatory requirements that stress the importance of compliance monitoring and centralized record-keeping of client orders through instant messaging applications.Watkins noted that the PwC solution provides banks with the flexibility and security to communicate with and serve their clients using selected messenger apps in a secure and compliant way.Intelligent Archive provides an audit trail of communications as well as an archive retrieval system. Notably, the monitoring system allows financial institutions to comply with regulatory policies and respond to informational requests.The solution also features an in-application chatbot serving as a ‘Smart Concierge’ – a digital assistant capable of helping client support staff identify, for example, suitable products and access product marketing materials, all without leaving the messaging interface. During a conversation, records of actions are recorded within the archive for later review and audit trail.  “The battle for the customer interface is fierce as usage of mobile messaging platforms becomes ubiquitous in daily lives both at work and home. Intelligent Archive’s A.I.-powered chatbot empowers client support staff to optimize the user experience through a seamless and secure channel with consumers that is contextual, highly personal and direct,” says Matthew Phillips, PwC China and Hong Kong Financial Services Leader. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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18-05-2018
Senior living projects gaining traction in India

As Asian countries address the new realities of ageing crisis and increasing life expectancy, senior living is now becoming a next bet for investors. According to recently released Colliers Research report on Senior Housing Outlook 2018, countries such as Japan have grappled with an ageing population for some time, while others are just beginning to realize that they will need to act quickly in order to address ageing-related issues. Macau and Singapore, for example, will see their senior populations skyrocket by 301% and 195%, respectively, by 2050.Even fast-developing countries where seniors are a smaller presence, such as India and the Philippines, will face difficulties if many of their young people continue to work overseas and are largely unable to attend to the immediate needs of elderly parents. In such scenarios, more infrastructure will be needed to cater to rising number of seniors who will be residing independently and need different degrees of daily assistance and medical care."Few factors in Indian scenario such as concern in maintenance of properties during retirement days, restricted income source for seniors, rising crime rate against elderly people, emotional challenges such as lack of companionship and security, and other healthcare aspects should drive the need for senior housing in India in coming days. However, the market will take its own time to adopt the trend, considering the Indian system of living," says Ravi Ahuja, Senior Executive Director, Mumbai & Developer Services at Colliers International India. As per Census of India, 2011, India had about 98 million elderly citizens, and this number is likely to grow in future. Also, the overall life expectancy is also on the rise, fueling the rush to address retiree's demand in the country. According to Colliers Research, the major senior housing categories that have emerged this far can be summed up as housing developments for active seniors, in-home care, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.Developers such as Ashiana housing, Brigade, Athashree, Vedaanta are experimenting with these projects. While the senior living market is miniscule, the demand will grow in future, owing to factors such as growing awareness among seniors about the benefits of living in senior housing and numerous facilities offered by them."Most of the living projects in India follow outright sales, pay-back schemes and lifetime lease models at present. However, factors like affordability, location accessibility, safety and security, land value, involvement of expertise in operations and maintenance of the communities, etc. will be the key factors driving the success of senior living communities in India in coming days," says, Surabhi Arora, Senior Associate Director, Research at Colliers International India.  At present the senior living projects are making their advent in Indian cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Kochi, Coimbatore, etc.Housing developments for active seniorsHousing developments for active seniors tends to be the most prevalent offering, since it requires no or minimal specialist care facilities, and are therefore easiest for developers to build. Such developments are typically restricted to those 55 or over, and provide several single- or multi-family housing options for retirees. They tend to attract mobile, independent seniors with facilities such as clubhouses, golf courses and tennis courts as well as social and recreational programs. Services such as housekeeping, transportation and maintenance may be included in the standard fees.In-home care Individuals who lack the desire or resources move to a designated facility and receive short or long-term care that they need in the comfort of their own homes. Care services can include anything from arranging entertainment to assistance in taking medication or hospice supervision. As services tend to be part-time, this is the lowest-cost option, but must often be supplemented with family members or friends able to play the role of caregiver on a more sustained basis.Assisted living facilities Assisted living developments have trained and licensed staff to assist seniors who lack options for in-home care, but have reached the stage where they may require help with everyday activities such as cleaning, preparing meals or taking medications.Skilled nursing care facilities These developments offer round-the-clock care for individuals who suffer from chronic health conditions that are too complex to be treated at home or in assisted living developments, and have highly-trained staff and facilities spanning areas such as physical, occupational and respiratory therapy. Facilities may include a small number of assisted living and/or Alzheimer's/dementia units.

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18-05-2018
BT joins forces with Europol to build a safer cyber space

BT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Europol, The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation, to share knowledge about major cyber threats and attacks, as the two organizations reinforce their efforts to create a safer cyber space for citizens, businesses and governments.The agreement, which was signed by both parties at Europol’s Headquarters in The Hague in the Netherlands, provides a framework for BT and Europol to exchange threat intelligence data as well as information relating to cyber security trends, technical expertise and industry best practice.Steven Wilson, Head of Business, European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said: “The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between Europol and BT will improve our capabilities and increase our effectiveness in preventing, prosecuting and disrupting cybercrime. Working co-operation of this type between Europol and industry is the most effective way in which we can hope to secure cyberspace for European citizens and businesses. I am confident that the high level of expertise that BT brings will result in a significant benefit to our Europe wide investigations.”Kevin Brown, VP, BT Security Threat Intelligence, said: “As one of the world’s largest cyber security businesses, we at BT have long held the view that coordinated, cross border collaboration is key to stemming the global cyber-crime epidemic.“We’re working with other law enforcement agencies in a similar vein to better share cyber security intelligence, expertise and best practices to help them expose and take action against the organized gangs of cyber criminals lurking in the dark corners of the web.”BT is committed to sharing its threat intelligence data with industry partners and law enforcement agencies such as Europol in a secure and trusted way, as a means of better protecting UK and global customers from the rapidly expanding cyber-crime industry. Earlier this year, it became the first telecommunications provider in the world to start sharing information about malicious software and websites on a large scale with other ISPs via a free online portal – the Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP). Since the platform was launched, BT’s worldwide team of more than 2,500 cyber security experts have so far helped to identify and have shared the details of more than 200,000 malicious domains. The recipients of BT’s threat intelligence data have then been able to take the appropriate course of action to protect their customers and stakeholders against the specific threats identified.Europol created the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) in 2013 to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU in a bid to better protect EU citizens, businesses and governments from online crime. It also operates the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), which aims to drive intelligence led, coordinated action against key cybercrime threats and targets by facilitating the joint identification, prioritization, preparation and initiation of cross-border investigations and operations by its partners.

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17-05-2018
Nearly half of HK consumers use an e-wallet

Neilsen’s Hong Kong eCommerce Study 2017 shows that mobile wallet adoption has increased significantly year-on-year

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17-05-2018
Hongkongers want more from digital customer services

AI is not yet ready to fully replace the human touch in the delivery of effective customer services, according to a HKACE survey

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17-05-2018
AIibaba's chief scientist says we shouldn't fear AI

There’s both hype and hysteria surrounding AI, according to Alibaba's chief data scientist Xiaofeng Ren

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17-05-2018
Oracle acquires data science platform to integrate into cloud offering

Oracle's new DataScience.com platform centralizes data science tools, projects and infrastructure

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17-05-2018
MoneyWare Custody solution powers HNB’s new Custody and Trustee unit

Sri Lanka’s Hatton National bank (HNB) recently launched its custody operations in the country to strengthen its product depth and service offering. Being one of the first local private commercial banks to enter the Custody and Trustee space gives the bank the platform to be in a position to cater to specially cross border clients entering the Sri Lanka capital market."The setting up of the Custody and Trustee business strengthens our offerings and is a testament to HNB's commitment to providing world class banking solutions to its customers. We were looking at a solution that is robust, scalable, flexible and future-ready architecture to handle both custody management and fund accounting services," said Tyrone Hannan, Head -Custody and Trustee Business, HNB.Facilitating this new business is the MoneyWare Custody solution from Miles Software."The changing business dynamics and the complex custody business framework required us to meet global standards. It is imperative to have a technology platform that manages the complete life cycle of the global custody business. MoneyWare Custody positions us to do so with the flexibility and sophistication while supporting our need for business innovation," said HNB CIO Ruwan Bakmedeniya. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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17-05-2018
Pilot to test RippleNet in cross-border payments

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC), MUFG Bank, Ltd. (MUFG Bank), Bank of Ayudhya PCL (Krungsri) and Standard Chartered Bank have announced the commencement of a pilot test for moving real funds over RippleNet, with the objective of making cross-border payments more convenient and further improving the capital efficiency of corporate groups.MC, MUFG Bank, Krungsri and Standard Chartered have been working together to improve financial efficiency internally using next generation technologies. This pilot test is the first result of a joint project between the companies to improve cash management with a real-time, multi-currency, multiple-bank platform.This pilot test will be carried out by MC between the accounts of MC's subsidiaries in Thailand and Singapore, under the Bank of Thailand Regulatory Sandbox Framework. It is the first time for a Japanese company to conduct cross-border payments over RippleNet.Based on the results of this pilot test, the companies will work towards commercializing the pilot with the potential for the participating banks to pursue new opportunities.  Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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17-05-2018
As open source adoption soars, majority of software plagued by known vulnerabilities and license conflicts

Synopsys has released the Black Duck by Synopsys 2018 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis (OSSRA) report, which examines findings from the anonymized data of over 1,100 commercial codebases audited in 2017.Industries represented in the report include the automotive, big data, cyber security, enterprise software, financial services, healthcare, Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturing, and mobile app markets.The report highlights a massive uptick in open source adoption, with 96% of the applications scanned containing open source components. The data also shows that the average number of open source components found per codebase (257) grew by 75% over the previous year, with many applications containing more open source than proprietary code. What is worrisome is that 78% of the codebases examined contained at least one open source vulnerability, with an average 64 vulnerabilities per codebase. Over 54% of the vulnerabilities found in audited codebases are considered high-risk vulnerabilities. 17% of the codebases contained a highly publicized vulnerability such as Heartbleed, Logjam, Freak, Drown, or Poodle."Since modern software and infrastructure depend heavily on open source technologies, having a clear view of components in use is a key part of corporate governance," said Tim Mackey, technical evangelist at Black Duck by Synopsys. "The report clearly demonstrates that with the growth in open source use, organizations need to ensure they have the tools to detect vulnerabilities in open source components and manage whatever license compliance their use of open source may require."Vulnerable open source components were found in applications in every industry. The Internet and Software Infrastructure vertical had the highest proportion — 67% — of applications containing high-risk open source vulnerabilities. Ironically, 41% of the applications in the Cyber Security industry were found to have high-risk open source vulnerabilities, putting that vertical at fourth highest risk.In addition, 33% of the audited codebases that contained Apache Struts also contained the vulnerability that resulted in the Equifax breach. The report clearly shows that organizations are allowing a growing number of vulnerabilities to accumulate in their codebases. On average, vulnerabilities identified in the audits were disclosed nearly six years ago."When Equifax was breached through the Apache Struts vulnerability, the need for open source security management became front-page news," said Evan Klein, the Black Duck product marketing manager responsible for the OSSRA report. "Yet even though it was disclosed in March 2017, many organizations apparently still have not checked their applications for the Struts vulnerability."Based on the findings, 74% of the codebases audited also contained components with license conflicts, the most common of which were GPL license violations. The percentage of applications with license conflicts within verticals ranged from the Retail and E-commerce industry's relative low of 61% to the high of the Telecommunications and Wireless industry—where 100% of the code scanned had some form of open source license conflict. 

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17-05-2018
Cryptomining malware targeting unpatched server vulnerabilities, says Check Point

April 2018 marked the fourth consecutive month where cryptomining malware dominated Check Point's 'Top Ten Most Wanted' Malware Index, with the Coinhive variant retaining the top spot as the most prevalent malware at a global reach of 16%.Cryptoloot – another crypto-mining malware – was close behind with a global reach of 14%, while the Roughted malvertising malware came in third (11%).Check Point's researchers also identified a significant increase in a trend that started earlier this year, in which cyber-criminals are targeting unpatched server vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (CVE-2017-7269) and Oracle Web Logic (CVE-2017-10271) in order to illicitly mine crypto-currency.Globally, 46% of the world's organizations were targeted for the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 vulnerability, while the Oracle Web Logic vulnerability was close behind, targeting 40% of organizations across the world."With crypto-mining malware's consistent growth, cyber-criminals are innovating their techniques in order to find new ways to exploit victims' machines and net more revenue." Maya Horowitz, Threat Intelligence Group Manager at Check Point commented. "Now that they're seeking to infiltrate networks using unpatched server vulnerabilities, this is a clear reminder to organizations that security basics – such as patching – are critical to ensuring that networks remain secure."Horowitz continued: "It is troubling that so many organizations were impacted by these known vulnerabilities, especially as patches for both have been available for at least 6 months. Taking into account that more than 40% of the organizations worldwide were targeted with these attacks, it is critical that enterprises employ a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy that protects against both established malware families cyber-attacks and brand new threats."April's 2018's top 3 'most wanted'*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month.↔ Coinhive – Crypto-Miner designed to perform online mining of Monero cryptocurrency when a user visits a web page without the user's knowledge or approval. ↑ Cryptoloot – Crypto-Miner that uses the victim's CPU or GPU power and existing resources to add transactions to the blockchain and releasing new currency. ↑ Roughted – Large scale Malvertising used to deliver various malicious websites and payloads such as scams, adware, exploit kits and ransomware. It can be used to attack any type of platform and operating system, and utilizes ad-blocker bypassing and fingerprinting in order to make sure it delivers the most relevant attack.April's top 3 'most wanted' mobile malwareLokibot – Android banking Trojan and info-stealer, which can also turn into a ransomware that locks the phone. Triada – Modular Backdoor for Android which grants superuser privileges to downloaded malware. Hiddad– Android malware which repackages legitimate apps then releases them to a third-party store.April's top 3 'most wanted' vulnerabilitiesCheck Point researchers also analyzed the most exploited cyber vulnerabilities. In first was CVE-2017-7269, with a global impact of 46%, followed by CVE-2017-10271 affecting 40% of organizations worldwide. In third place was SQL injection impacting 16% organizations globally.↑ Microsoft IIS WebDAV ScStoragePathFromUrl Buffer Overflow (CVE-2017-7269) – By sending a crafted request over a network to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 through Microsoft Internet Information Services 6.0, a remote attacker could execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service conditions on the target server. That is mainly due to a buffer overflow vulnerability resulted by improper validation of a long header in HTTP request. A patch has been available since March 2017. ↓ Oracle WebLogic WLS Security Component Remote Code Execution (CVE-2017-10271) – A remote code execution vulnerability exists within Oracle WebLogic WLS. This is due to the way Oracle WebLogic handles xml decodes. A successful attack could lead to a remote code execution. A patch has been available since October 2017. ↓ SQL Injection– Inserting an injection of SQL query in input from client to application, while exploiting a security vulnerability in an application's software.This list demonstrates how threat actors use both modern techniques (two vulnerabilities published in 2017) and classic attack vectors such as SQL injection.Check Point's Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point's ThreatCloud intelligence, a collaborative network to fight cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database holds over 250 million addresses analyzed for bot discovery, more than 11 million malware signatures and over 5.5 million infected websites, and identifies millions of malware types daily.  

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16-05-2018
Countdown to GDPR: final reality check

On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect in the EU and around the world, regulating how businesses should handle personal data. The regulation will affect businesses of all sizes including those in Asia, due to their extra-territorial reach.  Probably the world’s most expansive data privacy law, GDPR requires any business that processes the personal data of European residents to comply with the new law. This is no exception for businesses in Singapore and Asia Pacific who sell to the European market. Non-compliance can result in fines up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.In Asia, many businesses think that the GDPR will not affect them, and are still not ready for the regulation. Despite the deadline drawing closer, global research from Veritas revealed that there is little trust consumers have in businesses to safeguard their personal data. With more and more companies suffering data breaches and hackers seemingly one step ahead, almost 38% of consumers believe most businesses do not know how to protect their consumer data.Related articles:GDPR - why is it important for APAC, and why should you care? Get visibility on potential GDPR blind spots Companies in APAC urged to strengthen cybersecurity readiness ahead of GDPR Veritas’ research showed that consumers vow to take bold steps in penalizing companies that don’t safeguard their data, while rewarding those that do:62% of consumers would stop buying from a business that fails to protect their data 48% of respondents say they would abandon their loyalty to a particular brand and consider turning to a competitor 81% would tell their friends and family to boycott the organization 74% claim they would even go so far as to report the business to regulatorsIn Veritas’ study, more than half of the organizations (56%) in Singapore are concerned that they will not be able to meet GDPR requirements. Given the long arm of GDPR with its extraterritorial scope, companies in Singapore and Asia Pacific may be more exposed than they think. According to the third biennial EY Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey by Ernst & Young (EY), only 12% of firms in Asia Pacific - and 10% of Singapore companies - have a GDPR compliance plan in place, far below the global average of 33%.Who’s in charge?The impending 25 May deadline raises the question: who really controls your data? “With data being used widely from personalized advertising to loyalty reward programs by retailers for consumers, businesses will need to rethink the way they manage and protect personal data in order to comply with the GDPR,” said Robin Schmitt, general manager for APAC at Neustar.Many consumers are closely scrutinizing businesses and holding them accountable for the protection of their personal data. If not, organizations could potentially lose 59% of consumers wanting to spend more with a company whom they trust to look after their data, said Veritas.“According to the latest 2018 Veritas Data Privacy Consumer Study, consumers are demanding more transparency and accountability from businesses,” observed Sheena Chin, country director for Veritas Singapore.“The research reveals that consumers have little trust in organizations to safeguard their personal data, with almost two in five (38% of respondents globally) believing most businesses don’t know how to protect their personal data. This comes as no surprise as trust in businesses have been diminished by the recent data breaches where companies have shown a lack of understanding of how the personal data collected have been used or shared.”While the reality is that most companies will not be fully compliant by 25 May, we should still start taking steps in the right direction today, business software company Sage advised.Pages1 2 3 » last »

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16-05-2018
Remittances to APAC hit US$ 256 billion last year: IFAD report

Migrant workers last year sent US$ 256 billion to their families in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a new report and webportal on remittances released by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).The report is a synthesis of the latest remittance data and analysis and remittance-market profiles on 50 individual countries. The portal aims to help decision-makers and industry transform remittances markets for cheaper, faster and safer transactions, in particular for rural areas.According to the report, remittances to the Asia-Pacific region represented 53 percent of flows worldwide in 2017. This figure has grown by 4.87 percent since 2008, with rates flattening in recent years.India (US$69 billion), China (US$64 billion) and the Philippines (US$33 billion) are the three largest remittance-receiving countries in the world. Pakistan (US$20 billion) and Vietnam (US$14 billion) are also in the top 10.About 70 percent of remittances sent to Asia and the Pacific come from outside the region and in particular from the Gulf States (32 percent), North America (26 percent) and Europe (12 percent).Remittances contribute to the region more than 10 times the official development assistance in the region.In the Asia Pacific region, 400 million people, one out of every 10 people, are directly affected by remittances either as a sender or as a receiver.Around US$6 trillion in remittances are expected to be sent to developing countries by 2030: over half of these flows will arrive in the Asia Pacific regions, very often in small towns and villages.Increasingly the majority of migrants (60 percent) now find work in the region with Hong-Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand being major destinations for migrant workers.Remittance outflows from the region amounted to US$78 billion, and 93 percent of the flows remain in the region.While remittances benefit about 320 million family members in the region, most of them in rural areas, remittance markets still need to transform to ensure that families can benefit fully from the flows.''The promise of technological innovation in the remittance marketplace could bring about a fundamental transformation for hundreds of millions benefiting from these flows. But this transformative change has not yet happened,” says Pedro De Vasconcelos, IFAD Senior remittance expert.In addition, De Vasconcelos pointed out that outdated regulatory barriers on both sending and receiving ends result in higher and less transparent costs for the 2 billion transactions a year – most amounting to just US$200 to US$300 each. They also make it less likely and more difficult to convert remittances into savings and investments.According to the report, the cost of sending money to the region has decreased by only 0.67 percent since 2015, reaching 6.86 percent in 2017. This is still more than twice the 3 per cent set for high volume corridors by the international community in its Sustainable Development Goals. Lower transfer costs mean more money available to families.Transfer costs vary significantly across the region. Rates in small Pacific island states are higher at 8.9 percent of the amount sent. In East Asia they are 8.26 percent while corridors from the Russian Federation to Central Asia are extremely low at 1.21 percent.Remittances are particularly crucial in rural areas where poverty is the highest. Worldwide, an estimated 40 percent of the total value of remittances go to rural areas. However, in the Asia- Pacific region, remittances go disproportionally to countries with a majority of rural populations such as Nepal (81%), India (67%), Viet Nam (66%), Bangladesh (65%), Pakistan (61%) and the Philippines (56%). Remittances to rural areas are generally costlier due to expenses associated with offering access points in distant locations.The report stated that cash-to-cash transactions remain by far the most common form of transfer. Only recently did technology begin to move markets towards account-to-account transfers through digital operations. There are now more than 1 million payment locations through the region, reflecting a greater digitalization of transactions.However, further efforts are needed. “For digitalization of transfers to happen, regulators and private sector companies need to work further together to harmonize legal and regulatory frameworks between countries and support the design of products driven by customer needs,” said De Vasconcelos.In the region, families generally spent about 70 percent of remittances to meet basic needs, such as food, clothing, healthcare and education. The remaining 30 percent, amounting to $77 billion, could be saved and invested in asset-building or income-generating activities, helping families to build livelihoods and their future, according to De Vasconcelos.    

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CyberLink Vol.116 May 2018

Message from CEO

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CyberLink Vol.115 March 2018

Check out the key drivers for the new economy at IES 2018

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CyberLink Vol.114 February 2018

Cyberport to launch first offsite Smart-Space in Tsuen Wan

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