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16-01-2017
S4M lets customers geo-target top airports

Mobile tech company S4M last week announced that its customers can now leverage its platform to target mobile users at top airports around the world. With the use of enriched geo-localized user behavioral and contextual data, the company wants to help brands boost their presences in the top 30 airports around the world.S4M says its geofencing technology lets advertisers analyze and understand mobile user profiles at airports, and is determined with the use of anonymous mobile device identifiers with GPS coordinates, device language settings and online periods.Advertisers can gain more insights into the behaviors of consumers, and leverage this to better engage with them at airports.“Airports are more than just a transit area, it presents a huge opportunity for brands to engage with consumers,” says Gavin Buxton, vice president of sales for APAC at S4M.“The smartphone is an extension of the individual so it is a must-have touchpoint when creating fully integrated brand experiences. Advertisers should be combining the omnipresence of the mobile medium with real-time geolocation at airports to deliver seamless customer journeys,” he said.The company cited figures from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which showed how international tourists account for 1.2 billion individuals in 2015, and is projected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.With more than two thirds of air travelers from middle to high income groups, S4M says location data presents an opportunity for companies in Asia to leverage its platform to engage with affluent audiences.It is worth noting that the various location technologies work differently to tease location data from smartphone users, and may be subject to different limitations and varying levels of accuracy. More sophisticated methods may meld various techniques together, though the basic strategies outlined in our earlier piece titled “Finding meaning from location data” have stayed the same.Ultimately, the economic opportunities that travelers offer should not be overlooked by brands, while mobile devices can go a long way to help them stand out at highly competitive airport spaces.Further reading:Finding meaning from location dataGrowth seen for retail indoor location technologiesHow marketers can make the most of location data Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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16-01-2017
Oracle mentors early-stage tech startups in India

Technology company Oracle is guiding early-stage tech startups in India to establish successful businesses under its Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Program. The programme is a global initiative to develop an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurial innovation. Startups such as Ezedox, Farebond, initCodes, Trendlyne and Sonder Connect will be mentored under the second phase of the programme. "We have had the opportunity to nurture some great ideas from the first group of startup finalists. I am now looking forward to working with our new start-ups," said Sanket Atal, Group Vice President of Development in Oracle India, in a statement. The second group of finalists started operating from the accelerator centre on January 10. The global startup accelerator initiative was launched last year with an aim to help speed up a startup's development through a combination of technical and business mentoring. Among the first group of startups, ExpertRec has developed a machine learning-based, plug and play search and recommendation solution for online marketplaces while NiYO Solutions focused on alternate payment mechanisms. Ray IoT Solutions has developed a mobile-based sleep monitoring device to detect infant healthcare dysfunctions and Tydy provides a mobile first, automated employee on-boarding platform. Another startup Vear provides a device-agnostic, augmented and virtual reality platform for content distribution and marketing. "One of the key focus areas for Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator is to support and provide women entrepreneurs the relevant resources for them to grow their businesses. Our collaboration with Sonder Connect is one of the many steps in this direction as we support the start-up ecosystem," Atal added.  

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16-01-2017
AI focus of Chinese VC investments says KPMG

The latest KPMG analysis revealed that China saw Venture Capital (VC) investments reach US$31 billion in 2016, a 19% tear-on-year growth and a new record high, despite a global slowdown. The consultant predicts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be an additional focus for investors.However, deal volumes declined 42% to 300 from 513 a year earlier, according to Venture Pulse, KPMG’s quarterly global report on VC trends. The strong performance is attributed to a number of mega-deals recorded early in the year.The report highlights that artificial intelligence and cognitive learning are poised to transform almost every aspect of people’s lives. Consequently, VC investment across sectors in this space is therefore expected to be a key trend for the foreseeable future.Figure 1: Venture financing in China 2010-2016Source: Venture Pulse, Q4’16, Global Analysis of Venture Funding, KPMG Enterprise. Data provided by PitchBook, January 12, 2017Egidio Zarrella (photo right), Partner, Clients and Innovation, KPMG China, says: “China is becoming a more mature economy. We’re seeing it move from being heavily reliant on agriculture and manufacturing to an economy driven by innovation and services. Over the next year, the world will recognize how much artificial intelligence is going to transform everything we do. For example, the amount being invested in artificial intelligence in Asia is growing by the day. 2017 will be the year investors will look at AI and say, ‘if you’re not investing in it, you’re missing the boat’.”Globally, VC investment slid 9.4% in 2016 to US$127 billion, while deal counts dropped 24% to 13,665 deals as investors became more cautious about market uncertainties, valuations and exit opportunities through IPO. VC investment in Asia remained unchanged at US$39 billion in 2016, however, deal activities slowed down to 1,742 from 2,266 in 2015.In terms of sectors, software, commercial services, consumer goods & recreation continued to draw the largest amount of VC investment.Philip Ng (photo left), Partner and Head of Technology, KPMG China, says: “Investors in Asia are shifting their investment focus. While there has previously been a lot of attention paid to O2O, the second half of 2016 saw investors more focused on artificial intelligence, robotics and big data. There is also increased focus on Fintech, education and healthcare related startups.”Additionally, the report says Chinese companies plan to increase investment outside China to acquire technologies for use in the Chinese market, with the US likely to continue to gain the lion’s share of outbound investment, while Canada and Israel might also draw interest from Chinese investors.Lyndon Fung (photo right), Partner, US Capital Markets Group, concludes: “In China, there is a lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs with creative solutions and business models to implement and launch their ideas to market quickly. Given the size of the population, this is particularly attractive to companies that can link their offerings to consumer spending.”But China is not the only game in the region. VC interest in India remained strong despite slower deal-making in 2016. The government introduced initiatives aimed at clarifying rules and regulations for startups, in an effort to make it easier for companies with new business models to understand what they could and could not do in the country.According to Sreedhar Prasad (photo left), Partner, Internet Business and Startups, KPMG in India, “Me too” companies are finding it difficult to raise funds, whereas companies with unique models are taking the lion share of funding.Heading into 2017, startups looking to attract capital will likely put more emphasis on their cost structure in order to show investors they are well organized to achieve profitability. Subsectors of technology expected to grow over the next year include healthcare, Fintech and any technology that enables other businesses to grow.

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16-01-2017
WCA, Alibaba agreement spells opportunity for SME freight forwarders

WCA, a network of independent freight forwarders, will partner China’s Alibaba.com for cross-border e-commerce shipments.The partnership aims to expand Alibaba’s global reach via the addition of 6,300 logistics offices of SME forwarders who form the WCA network. These SMEs will also benefit as they gain access to Alibaba’s logistics platform.WCA is expected to evaluate and approve international logistics providers for the partnership. Approved firms will be able to compete for logistics orders generated by the Alibaba.com platform.More than 100 logistics companies in the WCA network applied for WCA’s dedicated e-commerce logistics network last October. The dedicated network, named “WCA eCommerce”, allows members companies to trade directly with each other.This year, WCA eCommerce plans to add features such as  e-commerce shipment insurance, e-commerce-specific IT solutions, preferred rates on global and domestic last-mile and courier services, and regional e-commerce consolidation programs to its network. 

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16-01-2017
Thai gov’t rolls out measures to aid SME exports

Thailand’s Industry Ministry is planning measures targeted at helping the country’s SMEs increase competitiveness in the export market.According to the Bangkok Post, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the ministry is collaborating with related government agencies such as the Commerce ministry and Science and Technology Ministry to draft stimulus packages aimed at cutting costs and increasing SME exports.Thai SMEs have also been encouraged to tap on e-commerce to boost exports.Uttama told the Bangkok Post that the ministry is aiming to boost SME exports to other ASEAN members, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.Uttama said the government will first assist SMEs which are en route to recovery.The second group the government will help is businesses that wish to restructure their operations via technology adoption.Further details of the new SME support measures are expected to be released by next week. 

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15-01-2017
Time spent on social, messaging apps grew by four times in 2016

Flurry from Yahoo this week released its annual State of Mobile report, which concluded that social and daily habits apps dominated the time spent metric on mobile apps in 2016.Specifically, the study found that the time spent in social and messaging apps grew by four times (394%) over the last year, compared to an average growth of 69% across all tracked segments.In its eighth year, the study offers insights on global mobile app usage and trends gleaned from over 2.1 billion smart devices and 3.2 trillion sessions. Phablets continue to dominate with 41% of market share, while small phones now account for just 1% of the market share, said the report.“Over the last year, the Flurry footprint grew to track more than 940,000 applications, across 2.1 billion devices, in 3.2 trillion sessions. In this context, we define app usage as a user opening an app and recording what we call a ‘session,’ as well as the amount of time spent in the application.” said Simon Khalaf, a senior VP at Yahoo. “Compared to the year prior, overall app usage grew by 11% and time-spent in apps grew by 69%.Khalaf noted that not all app categories grew in tandem in 2016, observing that certain categories of mobile apps have continued growing in terms of session and time-spent at the expense of others.For instance, a steep decline in usage is evidenced in the personalization category, which the report attributed to diminishing value for users of these products. Ultimately, the decelerating rate of growth could signal market maturity, saturation or simply the end of the app gold rush.“But let us put things in perspective. The gold rush in California ended in 1855. A lot of wealth has been generated since then. We are excited to see what app developers do in the next decade and which industry they chose to disrupt, again,” Khalaf said.Further reading:Chat apps taking over the worldOpera calls out ‘leaky’ shopping apps30% of mobile data usage wasted by background apps

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13-01-2017
Brands struggle to meet demands of today’s customers

Brands and retailers are struggling to keep up with Gen Z customers as they hop from store to web to mobile and social, says a new research published by IBM.The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study of 15,000 Gen Z shoppers concluded that two thirds (67%) of them prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store all the time, and another 31 percent preferring to shop in-store sometimes. 66 percent frequently use more than one device and 60 percent will not use an app or website that are slow to load.Notably, Gen Z customers demand highly personalized interactions, value quality over price and want to be engaged with the brand across all channels, according to the report.And despite changing customer demands, a separate IBM customer experience study of more than 500 brands in 24 countries found that businesses are struggling to deliver on the expectations of consumers.Specifically, just 19 percent of retailers say they can provide a highly personalized digital shopping experience. Moreover, only 17 percent can provide more than in-stock or out-of-stock information, while 84 percent did not offer any in-store mobile services.The gap between what customers demand and what brands can deliver calls for the use of cognitive capabilities, says IBM, by allowing retailers to take information from varying types of engagement and to quickly act on it across multiple channels.IBM claims that its cloud-based cognitive solutions can examine customer data and combine it with data on other critical factors such as weather patterns, pricing trends, buying behaviors, and supplier availability to deliver personalized experiences that customer demand.“In this new era of customer engagement, what will separate the winners from everyone else is a differentiated brand experience that delivers high impact engagements with compelling personalization regardless of where the customer is,” said Harriet Green, the general manager of IBM Watson customer engagement.“With Watson Cognitive Engagement solutions, IBM is working with retailers across globe to make these experiences a reality for millions of consumers,” he said.Further reading:Brands not maximizing benefits of online commerceThe WeChat honeymoon period for brands is overSingapore shoppers look online for good deals

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13-01-2017
McDonald’s cedes control of China and Hong Kong business to investors

McDonald's Corporation is ceding control of its China and Hong Kong businesses to a new group of investors for $2.08 billion.Under the deal, McDonald’s will form a partnership with CITIC Limited, CITIC Capital Holdings, and The Carlyle Group that will act as the restaurant’s master franchisee in mainland China and Hong Kong for 20 years.After completion of the transaction, CITIC and CITIC Capital will have a controlling stake of 52 percent, while Carlyle and McDonald's will have interests of 28 percent and 20 percent, respectively."China and Hong Kong represent an enormous growth opportunity for McDonald's. This new partnership will combine one of the world's most powerful brands and our unparalleled quality standards with partners who have an unmatched understanding of the local markets and bring enhanced capabilities and new partnerships, all with a proven record of success,” said McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, in a media statement.The new partners see growth in McDonald's business through new restaurant openings, particularly in tier 3 and 4 cities. They said the focus will be on key areas such as menu innovation, enhanced restaurant convenience, retail digital leadership, and delivery. Plans are also under way to add over 1,500 restaurants in China and Hong Kong over the next five years.Yichen Zhang, Chairman and CEO of CITIC Capital will serve as Chairman of the Board of the new company. "McDonald's core business proposition and potential in China are clear. We will work closely with the existing management team and partners, including Beijing Capital Agribusiness Group, to respond to local market expectations and continue to expand and improve the business to meet the needs of the Chinese consumer," he said in a media statement.Meanwhile, X.D. Yang, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Asia buyout team of The Carlyle Group, will serve as Vice Chairman of the board of the new company. As of 31 December 2016, McDonald's operates and franchises over 2,400 restaurants in mainland China and more than 240 restaurants in Hong Kong. It has built one of the strongest brand names and most robust systems in the region over the past three decades. Currently employing over 120,000 staff and serving over one billion customers annually in China, McDonald's is also the second largest Quick Service Restaurant chain in China and the largest in Hong Kong.As a result of this transaction, McDonald's is re-franchising more than 1,750 company-owned stores in China and Hong Kong.  McDonald’s said as part of its turnaround plan announced in May of 2015, it is committed to re-franchising 4,000 restaurants by the end of 2018, with the long-term goal of becoming 95 percent franchised.  Caption:  A McDonalds outlet at night in Guangzhou, China (Photo from iStockPhoto)

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13-01-2017
Alibaba to gain control of China’s Intime Retail for $2.6 B

Is Alibaba poised to conquer traditional retail as well?The e-commerce giant and Intime Retailer founder Shen Guo Jun have proposed this week to privatize the Intime department store chain, which has 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls, mainly in first- and second-tier cities in China.Alibaba currently owns approximately 28 percent of the equity interests in Intime pursuant to an initial investment in July 2014 and a conversion into equity of convertible debt securities in June 2016. Under the proposed privatization transaction, Alibaba would become the controlling shareholder of Intime and it is expected that its shareholding in the company would increase to approximately 74 percent for HK$19.8 billion ($2.6 billion).  The proposal is, however, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from Intime's independent shareholders and the sanction of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.  In a media statement, Alibaba said the proposal for Intime’s privatization reflects the company’s strategy to transform conventional retail by leveraging its substantial consumer reach, rich data and technology.  "E-commerce is no longer about shopping in front of a computer at home. Today's consumers in China engage in commerce activities from anywhere, anytime, with the help of a mobile phone. This dynamic shift to mobile has enabled Alibaba Group to work with brick and mortar retailers to integrate online and offline customer data, enhance consumers' in-store experience as well as achieve improvements in inventory efficiency and sales turnover,” said Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group Chief Executive Officer.As of the quarter ended September 2016, 78 percent of the gross merchandise volume (GMV) on Alibaba Group's China retail marketplaces was generated from mobile, and mobile monthly active users reached 450 million in the month of September. Meanwhile, China's total retail sector is a $4.5 trillion economy and is growing at 10.7 percent a year. Zhang said Alibaba is working with offline retailers to transform conventional approach, create new consumer shopping experience and use actions to embrace future opportunities under the new retail model.“Our combination with Intime will enable us to tap into the long-term growth potential of a new form of retail in China powered by Internet technology and data," he said.

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13-01-2017
UNIQLO expands convenience store pickup service in Japan

UNIQLO said it will launch in spring a convenience store pickup service for its products at FamilyMart and Lawson stores nationwide in Japan. A similar service started in February last year is already available at Seven-Eleven stores. Together, the three convenience stores will be able to offer UNIQLO customers a place to pick up their purchases at approximately 43,000 stores.The service, which enables customers of the UNIQLO.com online store to pick up merchandise 24-hours a day at any location convenient for the customer, is deemed ideal for customers who are too busy to go to UNIQLO stores, often not at home to receive deliveries, or who want to directly collect purchases while on a business trip or traveling.The company said it is working to make shopping easier for customers, including expanding the lineup of products available through the UNIQLO.com online store, improving the usability of the store’s mobile app, and offering semi-custom products.   ​ Caption: Photo from iStockPhoto

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13-01-2017
Taco Bell opens first restaurant in China

Mexican-inspired restaurant chain Taco Bell has opened its first restaurant in China.The store, located near Shanghai's landmark Oriental Pearl Tower in the Lujiazui area, the city's central business district, has a classic California inspired look and design - guitars, graffiti art and surfboards hanging from the ceiling – but it is also fitted with advanced technology, including free Wi-Fi, digital ordering kiosks, digital menu boards and a range of payment options.The goal is to provide customers with a fully immersive and convenient in-restaurant experience.The restaurant serves made-to-order and customizable tacos and burritos, and is the first QSR restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA)-certified menu items.In China, it says it the menu will feature brand favorites as well as new dishes adapted to local tastes, including the Shrimp and Avocado Burrito which is unique to Taco Bell restaurants in China."Building restaurants in new international markets is a key component to the overall growth and evolution of Taco Bell and we've just scratched the surface of our global unit expansion potential," said Brian Niccol, Chief Executive Officer of Taco Bell Corp. " We look forward to supporting Yum China as it builds Taco Bell's presence in the country."Currently, Taco Bell has more than 7,000 restaurants in the world with over 300 in 26 countries outside of the United States. Its first restaurant in China is part of the brand's global growth strategy of reaching 1,000 restaurants internationally by 2022.

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12-01-2017
Feng Chia University begins its SDN evolution

Feng Chia University has deployed a New IP networking solution to deliver smart network access within its on-campus student accommodations. Feng Chia is Taiwan’s leading private comprehensive university and is rated among the top 100 global emerging universities and top 100 Asian universities by The Times Higher Education Supplement. The university has a total of 21,000 students, approximately 5,000 of whom live on campus.“The university model of teaching and learning has changed a lot as a result of Internet technologies, and it is now critical that students have top-quality network access from their dorm rooms in order to leverage online educational resources,” said Bing-Jean Lee, President of Feng Chia University. “Our project is not only designed to provide a more robust and scalable network for our student accommodations, but also to have much more fine-grained management control over network service delivery through SDN. We are already trialing the new Brocade network’s SDN capabilities to manage access control and traffic accounting.”The total solution deployed at the university includes SDN-capable core, aggregation, and access devices from Brocade along with an open-standards SDN controller and applications from local software partner YESEE. “SDN is a revolutionary concept but its adoption, of necessity, must be evolutionary,” said Jeff Tsai, country manager for Taiwan, Brocade. “Feng Chia University’s end-to-end SDN-capable network enables it to test and migrate services to the new technology platform at its own pace. The Brocade solution delivers the SDN OpenFlow protocol in true hybrid port mode, allowing the university’s network administrators to progressively integrate OpenFlow, giving them programmatic control over specific network flows while the remaining traffic is forwarded as usual.” 

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12-01-2017
Entrepreneurship and what it means to SMEs

A recent global survey suggests the emergence of the era of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship does not look to be slowing down any time soon, according to GoDaddy’s Global Entrepreneur Survey for 2016.The survey of nearly 7,300 professionals found that 36% of them plan to either start a small business or be self-employed over the next 10 years. Of the 2,707 identified as current small business owners or self-employed individuals, 59% have indicated that they would start another new business if their current venture failed.Why entrepreneurship?But what is it about entrepreneurship that entices the masses? It helps that technological advances have made the running of businesses easier than ever. 91% of Singaporean respondents have indicated that new technologies have made it easier to become an entrepreneur.Advances in technology tools that aid in marketing, management of digital assets (such as social media pages), communication and cost efficiency have definitely increased the profitability of business endeavours. With technology as a key enabler of businesses, barriers to entry to entrepreneurship are lowered, resulting in an influx of entrepreneurs.Another driving force behind entrepreneurship is the capacity to be autonomous. Owning your own business enables one to have complete flexibility. Instead of the standard 9 to 6 office hours, owners can regulate their own work-life balance, as well as not have to worry about job security with regards to corporate layoffs.The future workplace and millennialsThe GoDaddy survey also found that the tendency to entrepreneurship is significantly higher in millennials, who are six times more likely to start a business at a young age than the Baby Boomer generation.This is significant as, according to PwC, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. The future workplace will be dramatically altered by millennial attitudes and workstyles.In another study, Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2016 has highlighted the following characteristics in millennials: millennials lack loyalty to their employers; their values do not change as they progress professionally; and they want businesses to focus more on people, products and purpose and less on profits.What does this mean for employers?With employees likely to leave to start their own businesses, or run it on the side, and with the shift of values that comes with the era of the millennials, SMEs need to adapt to retain their staff. Employers that succeed in harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of the staff will ultimately be able to benefit from these future workplace attitudes and values.SMEs could consider offering higher levels of flexibility in working arrangements so that employees can attain a sense of autonomy pertaining to their work-life balance.With the rise of the shared economy, as testified by the rise of the likes of Uber, Grab, Carousell and Qoo10, employers will have to live with – better still, leverage – the fact that their staff could be running their own businesses on the side as a GrabCar driver or a Qoo10 online store owner.Such entrepreneurial qualities may be harnessed to help resource-strained SME owners with new business development ideas and strategies.Also, they will need to adapt to manage the rising number of millennials. Millennials have the bad reputation of being disloyal, and SMEs will need to reform to cope with them being the majority of the workforce. If SMEs can take advantage of millennials’ redeeming qualities, such as being better educated and tech-savvy, they could find themselves in possession of a highly skilled talent pool. 

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11-01-2017
Experian taps Cloudera for integrated financial data

Experian has integrated Cloudera Enterprise onto its cloud environment which hosts its credit information, decision analytics and business information services.The move aims to provide Experian with the ability to make critical business decisions quickly. Experian helps businesses solve complex credit underwriting problems in account management, customer acquisitions and collections using advanced analytical models. One example is the Experian Analytical Sandbox, which aims to benefit clients through combined data and improved technology. This environment offers data scientists the agility to build analytical models to solve for their specific financial issues within their business.For example, one client organization faced an issue understanding the implications for home equity loans nearing end-of-draw. Using Experian’s Cloudera solution, the data analysis which originally took six months to complete was completed in just a few hours. This analysis enabled the organization to decide how to manage its home equity portfolio to meet the needs of its business and customers. “Having a multi-tenant data management environment in place across our business lines is essential as clients require this kind of agility and speed in data analytics today,” said Barry Libenson, Experian global chief information officer.

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11-01-2017
Axis Bank offers cross-border remittances instant using Blockchain tech

Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank, has tied up with Distributed Financial Technology company Ripple to offer cross-border payments solution through Blockchain technology.Ripple is a blockchain-based financial settlements solution that aims to reduce the time and cost of transactions. Axis is the first bank in India to partner with Ripple.The technology can enable instant international money transfers, compared to the 3 – 5 day norm for international remittances, and improve efficiency of payments for Axis Bank through instant and automated reconciliation with partner banks.“We are committed to using innovation in technology to make banking simple and convenient for our customers,” said V Srinivasan, Deputy Managing Director, Axis Bank. “Remittances have been a key strategic area for us, we at Axis are excited with the tie-up and the potential that the use of Blockchain technology could deliver in enabling real-time affordable money transfers.”“Given its status as the fastest-growing major economy in the world and the top market for remittances, India is a very important market that is ripe for payments innovation,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “As an early adopter of Ripple, Axis Bank will set a new standard for cross-border payments services and help us continue to grow our global network in a key region of the world.”

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CyberLink Vol.100 December 2016

Smart-Space FinTech opens to further support community

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CyberLink Vol.99 November 2016

Incubatee Big Dipper wins global excellence award

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CyberLink Vol.98 October 2016

Cyberport’s nurturing entrepreneurship schemes open for application

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