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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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19-09-2017
New Zealand to invest $248m in science research

Funding has been awarded for 68 new science research projects that will benefit New Zealand environmentally, economically, and socially, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.The funding, totalling $248 million over the next five years, has been invested through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) 2017 Endeavour Fund, which received an $81.9 million funding boost over four years in Budget 2017.“The Endeavour Fund is an important tool in the Government’s ten-year vision for a highly dynamic New Zealand science system,” Mr Goldsmith says.“The Fund looks for transformative initiatives that propose excellent research and have strong potential to improve a range of outcomes for New Zealand, such as marine ecosystems and hybrid energy.“This year the quality of applications was exceptional, and a diverse range of applications were received which will address some really important issues facing New Zealand.”As part of the 2017 Endeavour Fund round, up to $15 million per year in total will be invested in 41 projects under the ‘Smart Ideas’ initiative over the next three years. Smart Ideas are innovative research projects that have a high potential to benefit New Zealand.Up to $43 million per year in total will be invested in 27 Research Programmes over the next five years. Research Programmes support ambitious, well-defined research ideas, which have high potential to positively transform areas of future value, growth or critical need to New Zealand.Some examples of the successful 2017 Endeavour Fund proposals include:Developing hybrid-electric aircraft (Victoria University of Wellington) Recovering the trajectories of the marine ecosystem from the Kaikōura earthquakes (University of Canterbury) Improving NZ Pinot noir production (New Zealand Winegrowers) Exploring new technologies to improve weather forecasting (MetOcean Solutions Limited) Developing new charging technology for electric vehicles while parked or moving (University of Auckland)

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19-09-2017
Next gen VR are coming to retail

Retailers are in continuous turmoil as they wrestle with understanding what emerging technologies will have the most significant and immediate impact to their business.Already brands are experimenting with virtual technology (VR) to reshape the customer experience. Outdoor apparel company North Face is using VR to transport customers to Yosemite National Park to connect customers with its products as used in the outdoor.In South Korea, General Motors is using mixed reality to introduce and highlight the features of its Chevrolet models (see video below).Source: IsobarABI Research says next generation virtual reality headsets will user in even more immersive experience for customers.The worldwide virtual reality (VR) market has been experiencing significant growth with increasing numbers of content launches, consumer and enterprise deployments in entertainment and retail.As the VR adoption rate increases, so does the expectation and requirements of VR head-mounted displays (HMDs). As VR makers continue to improve the level of immersion, ABI Research forecasts that VR HMDs with 6 DOF will represent over 40% of combined mobile and standalone VR market in 2022.To meet user expectations, VR HMDs have a long way to go in many features including display quality, degree of freedom (DOF), and connectivity. The majority of VR HMDs currently available in the market support only 1080/2K resolution displays – which need to be greatly improved to solve the screen door effect caused by low resolution displays. New tethered devices with 4K display such as Aukey Cortex and Pimax and the arrival of mobile headsets with 4K display are likely to drive the penetration of high resolution VR devices.Accuracy in tracking movements is another important feature for an immersive VR experience. Most of the current VR devices support only 3 DOF tracking, with the exception of tethered devices, which are usually targeted for high-end market support 6 DOF.“A 6 DOF is the ideal goal and mobile and standalone VR devices are moving towards 6 DOF tracking to provide a total immersive experience. Mindmaze and uSens have announced 6 DOF position tracking solution for mobile VR devices, and Google announced Worldsense, a standalone VR device with 6 DOF,” notes Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.In terms of connectivity, 802.11 n/ac Wi-Fi is supported by mobile and standalone devices. While tethered devices are still connected to a PC or console with a cable, however, a wireless connection is likely to replace the cable connection. For tethered VR and high-resolution VR content, 60 GHz (WiGig) will play important role to support high bandwidth in the years to come.ABI Research expects that WiGig will be mainly deployed in the tethered VR devices which need multi-gigabit connectivity with low latency. Nearly 40% of VR HMDs are expected to support WiGig connectivity in 2022. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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19-09-2017
Customer-facing tech to drive digital transformation in retail

The PwC report, “CEO Viewpoint 2017: The Transformation of Retail,” says retailers have put digital transformation (DX) as their number one priority in 2017, with 69% of executives planning to increase DX investment over the next year.Market research firm Frost & Sullivan says its new report, Digital Transformation in the Global Retail Sector, takes a step further by revealing how retailers plan to make this happen.According to Frost, customer-facing digital technology will be at the forefront of retailers’ DX initiatives. These will be supported by lower-key, enabling and function-specific technologies and solutions that provide the foundation for the retail system to function and live up to customer-facing technologies’ promise.RELATED: Busting the Top 10 Myths of Omnichannel Customer Engagement“As the archetypal customer-facing industry, retail is ever more becoming a showcase for customer-driven digital transformation,” stated Digital Transformation Integrated Commerce Lead Martin Hoff ter Heide.Retailers that fail to engage with the technologies that are reshaping and upending their industry will fall behind and become unable to meet customers’ growing expectations.“New holistic and data-driven approaches optimize personalization and shopper experience. Shoppers find themselves empowered by mobile and wearable devices. They can also roam in and out of physical and digital channels throughout their shopping journey, vary the degree of service versus self-service, and increasingly interact with artificial intelligence, robots, and an array of smart things,” added Hoff ter Heide.The most critical, immediate driver for companies to engage in digital transformation is the need to improve customer experience. Given the nature of their activity, retailers are exposed like few other industries to escalating customer expectations driven by digital technology and innovative eCommerce competition.“Advances in retail technology can put retailers that operate physical store assets back at an edge over pure play e-Commerce companies and help better cater to shoppers’ increasing expectation of immersive and personalized omni-channel shopping experiences,” noted Hoff ter Heide. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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18-09-2017
Finding a home in Hong Kong just got easier

Outside of the soaring trend of property prices in Hong Kong, finding a property continues to present multiple road blocks to prospective buyers. The city has currently over 38,000 licensed property agents willing and ready to sell you new or used flats. But prospective home buyers need to understand that the process of acquiring a home can easily become a daunting task.Homebuyers typically have to gather property-related information through multiple channels and evaluate suitable options, while obtaining a preliminary sense of the affordability of a property.To ease prospective buyers into the process, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) launched its DBS Home360, a mobile phone app designed to let home buyers find a property that is tailored to their preference. In partnership with realtor, Century 21, the app lets prospective buyers find properties available for sale anywhere in Hong Kong.In addition to on demand listing of available properties for sale, filtered by price, location and number of rooms, users can view the selected property from the convenience of their mobile device via virtual tour. It also provides instant valuation with data culled from valuation firm Cushman & Wakefield. As expected, it includes a built-in budget calculator that also provides estimates on how much users can expect to pay, including stamp duty, commissions and related fees.It also comes with an Instant Mortgage Assessment feature to let users find out if they qualify for a mortgage based on their finances, and have a bank representative follow up and assist with the formal applicationVivian W.S. Chan, Managing Director, Deposits & Secured Lending, Consumer Banking Group for DBS Bank (Hong Kong), the app also calculates agent commission, applicable stamp duties and solicitor fees so that prospective buyers have a ballpark [figure] of how much they really need for down payment to the property of their choice.The app is designed to avoid surprises, particularly for first time home buyers who may not know all the unannounced fees that come with buying a property in Hong Kong.According to Royce Teo, managing director and head of Consumer Banking Group and Wealth Management, Hong Kong, of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, said, “We developed DBS Home360 as an innovative, interactive and intuitive way to put the power of realtors and banks at your fingertips. More importantly, prospective homebuyers can gain a clear understanding of the home-buying process, from searching for properties to sending in the mortgage application.” Caption: Vivian W.S. Chan, Managing Director, Deposits & Secured Lending, Consumer Banking Group, DBS Bank (Hong Kong)

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18-09-2017
Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor Office and Hitachi to establish IoT center

On 13 September, Hitachi, Ltd. concluded a cooperation agreement with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office on applying digital technologies, including IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, and establishing an innovative environment to promote EEC development in the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand is currently promoting measures aimed at establishing an advanced economic base and achieving further economic development. In 2015, "Thailand 4.0" was presented as a long-term vision of an ideal economic society, and the EEC development plan was laid out as one key measure in realizing this vision. Based on the EEC development plan, total investments on a scale of 1.5 trillion baht (approx. 5 trillion yen) are expected in the public and private sectors combined, and in addition to expanding airports and high-speed railways, the country will aim to attract and foster growth in 10 targeted industries, including robotics, digital technologies, and next-generation automotives.Meanwhile, as part of its 2018 Mid-term Management Plan, Hitachi will be promoting growth in the global market through the rollout of the Social Innovation Business, which creates new value through collaborative creation with customers by combining operational technology, IT, and products. Hitachi's largest scale of business in the ASEAN market is in Thailand, where it is rolling out business in a broad range of fields, including the railways, elevators/escalators, industrial products, and information and telecommunications systems businesses.Under the agreement, the EEC Office and Hitachi will be working collectively using advanced digital technologies, including IoT related technologies, within the Eastern Economic Corridor region to establish a ‘cutting-edge’ IoT center. The EEC Office and Hitachi will collaborate on EEC development in various areas, such as implementing necessary study, introducing advanced science and technology etc. EEC Office will also provide relevant information and possible support in creating bases for the use of advanced digital technologies, rolling out services in this region. With the EEC Office's cooperation, Hitachi will promote the use of IoT technologies – for example, through undertaking data analytics using artificial intelligence (AI) based on big data obtained from plants, office buildings, and other sources. It will also utilize the solution core and customer cases for Lumada, Hitachi's IoT platform, and roll out digital solutions that contribute to the resolution of various issues in Thailand and the ASEAN region as a whole.

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18-09-2017
Singaporeans prefer personal networking over social media job sites when job hunting

Social media may be a big part of people’s daily lives in Singapore, but it remains the least favored way to find a new job according to a poll conducted by recruiting experts, Hays.“Our latest Hays poll reveals that the highest proportion of respondents in Singapore (45 per cent) rely on online job boards to find a job while 31 per cent turn to personal networking,” says Lynne Roeder, Managing Director of Hays in Singapore.“Singapore has among the world’s highest internet connection speeds making ‘job shopping’ online easier than in many countries, but it’s interesting to see that personal networks still rank above virtual networks when it comes to job hunting,” says Lynne.“Research released earlier this year revealed that social media is now part of daily life for up to 70 per cent of Singaporeans but only 24 per cent of respondents in our latest Hays poll turn to social to look for a new job opportunity,” she says.“Job boards are a great way to get an overview of what roles and skills are in demand, but personal networks offer a way to hear about a job before it’s advertised as well as to learn about the work culture of an employer from someone with inside knowledge.”“Recruitment consultants should be part of a candidate’s personal networking efforts as they can offer insights on both, market trends and what opportunities are coming to the market. They are also able to share tips about what employers are looking for in their next hire,” says Lynne.Half of the candidates polled in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia nominated job boards as their preferred job hunting option while in Japan, that figure was 40 per cent.Personal networking was the second most favored option for job hunters in Malaysia (39 per cent), Japan (35 per cent), Hong Kong (34 percent) and Mainland China (32 per cent).Japan has the highest proportion of job hunters that use social media at 25 per cent and Malaysia the lowest at only 11 per cent. In Hong Kong, 16 per of respondents reported using social media to job hunt while in Mainland China that figure was 18 per cent. 

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17-09-2017
Traditional banks in APAC to rise above Fintech revolution

Reflecting on the 2008 global financial crisis, Chris Foye, Manager, Financial Crime Compliance at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, was a plus for banks across Asia Pacific, with the region emerging to become a global leader in financial technology (Fintech).In explaining his observation he noted that some banks reacted by restrict lending. “This unmet market need coincided with changing customer expectations, including customers increasingly using digital channels, thus reducing the need for 'bricks and mortar' infrastructure," he added.This observation is elaborated in greater detail in a new whitepaper from LexisNexis Risk Solutions titled “Fintech in APAC: the virtuous cycle”.The report predicts that in countries where the penetration of smartphones and even some social media is greater than that of conventional banks, Fintech will be the new financial system rather than an adjunct to it. Individual firms have the potential to be all, or part of that ecosystem.RELATED: How financial institutions can transform and thrive in the app economyChallenger banks have emerged in the UK and elsewhere to disrupt big banking institutions, including crowdfunding/P2P platforms, payment processors and lenders. Yet in recent years there have been no signs -- and no instances -- of banks disappearing due to tech interlopers."In Asia-Pacific we have seen an ecosystem of Fintech companies emerge that are focusing on the applicability of technology like blockchain, artificial intelligence and biometrics has emerged with the aim of working with conventional financial institutions, rather than replacing them," added Foye.Innovation-Regulation conundrumWith the rapid development of the Fintech sector in the region, a key challenge is how to encourage this innovation while regulating digital disruption at the same time.He conceded that concern is occurring within the industry that this rapid pace of innovation could come at the cost of consumer protection. Moreover, some Fintech companies are not adhering to the same regulatory/compliance standard of traditional banks."However, solutions are at hand. Banks themselves who have an intimate knowledge of the regulation and compliance obligations relating to their business have established innovation labs to experiment with new technologies and assess their applicability and suitability," he explained.Additionally, regulators have introduced regulatory 'sandboxes', wherein the usual regulatory requirements for financial services firms are relaxed to allow them to experiment. Sandboxes have been deployed widely by regulators in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere in APAC."This concept is beneficial in several ways. Sandboxes can reduce time to market, provide greater choice to consumers and ensure consumer protection is factored in. It also allows fintech companies to gain a better understanding of what is expected of them in terms of regulation and compliance," Foye commented.Sandboxes can also support regulators in developing financial services. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has stated that its Fintech Innovation Hub, ostensibly set up to host "proof of concept trials", could also allow the authority to explore the use of emerging technologies to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of the HKMA in discharging our duties.Big data, natural language processing and artificial intelligence are now expected to play a key role in regulation, particularly in areas such as Know Your Client (KYC). Big data is increasingly used to gain a more complete picture of customers by trawling, and grouping together, disparate pools of data before unimportant or duplicated information is discarded.Collaboration to realize innovation"Many financial institutions are taking this a step further through collaboration," Foye added. "In particular, this is happening in KYC where current processes are very time and resource intensive. Financial institutions are recognizing that matching headcount to the regulatory burden and customer volume is not a sustainable model, so they are looking to derive efficiencies without compromising regulatory obligations."One way of doing this is through a shared utility, which can increase efficiency through standardized KYC, scrutinizing big data inputted from a range of institutions, without the need to increase headcount.Asia Pacific authorities are backing this idea, even to the extent of utilizing government technology infrastructure and databases. Indonesia recently opened its national ID card database up to financial institutions; India is considering a similar move with its 'Aadhar' data; and Singapore has trialed a national KYC utility based on government-operated digital identity service MyInfo.Foye concluded that: "The emergence of Fintech should be embraced as it promotes financial inclusion, targets segments which have been 'de-risked' and provides greater choice for the consumer. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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16-09-2017
Fintech is opportunity says HKIB members

Fifty-five percent of respondents to The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers’ (HKIB) Talent Development Survey see Fintech as an opportunity for the banking and financial services industry. The more senior the respondent to the survey; the more positive is their attitude towards Fintech.Fifteen percent of practitioners surveyed regard Fintech as a threat to the industry and almost half of them are at officer level or work in a customer-facing role.When asked about how banks and financial institutions should deploy their training resources, respondents believe that Risk & Compliance (46%) and Fintech & Cyber Security (22%) should be the top priorities.Conducted between May and July 2017, the survey, which was commissioned by the HKIB for the second consecutive year, saw an increase in the participation of the millennial group, aged between 18 and 34. Their participation rose from last year’s 22% to 44%.Figure 1: Fintech Threats and Opportunities among HKIB membersSource: Hong Kong Institute of Bankers 2017About 67% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 find the banking industry appealing to young talent, an increase from last year’s 51% who held the same view. Nearly 90% of practitioners surveyed think professional training helps strengthen market trust.Carrie Leung, Chief Executive Officer of the HKIB, noted the emergence of Fintech has brought forward the importance of skills transfer and knowledge across the ranks in the industry.“The existing fear about Fintech among the junior and less experienced practitioners is noteworthy. Employers are advised to address the related training needs to better equip their staff with the necessary expertise to turn fear into opportunity,” she added.Around 80% of banking employees surveyed support the streamlining of the training path and agree that a common qualification benchmark helps to raise their professional status. Ninety-four percent find it difficult to evaluate a professional qualification because they think there have been too many qualifications in the market and a standardized qualification scheme is lacking.“To ensure sustainability, there must be a streamlined training path endorsed throughout the industry to enhance the upward mobility of young professionals and to increase the value of training. As a professional training provider and examination setter, the HKIB will continue to provide high quality, values-based education to support talent development in the local banking and financial industry and thus reinforce Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center,” added Leung.Click here to see the full survey. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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16-09-2017
Singapore says global shopping now a reality with bluGate

For many time-strapped individuals, e-commerce is now the preferred mode of shopping, as a new pair of shoes can be just a few clicks away. Shoppers can, however, find themselves waiting several days for the arrival of their latest purchase – that is, if the retailer delivers to their doorstep. But as consumers in the US can attest to, some deliveries just don’t make it to the consumer’s preferred address especially if the ordered items are being shipped from a distant country.Singapore startup blu says the days of late or failed delivery are gone. Thanks to bluGate – a flexible virtual shipping address that allows consumers to shop at any online store worldwide and conveniently self-collect purchases through blu’s network of 49 bluPort Parcel Terminals across the city.  With bluGate, the company claims that a shopper now has 49 locations to choose from – depending on their lifestyle preferences and where they want to collect their purchases. The 49 locations are conveniently and strategically located within commuters’ reach at prime locations like shopping malls, office buildings, Cheers convenience stores, and even Esso petrol stations.Using the same bluGate virtual address, shoppers can now arrange for delivery of their orders to a bluPort near their office, for easy collection.“bluGate seeks to be a part of the shopper’s daily commuting journey, while facilitating the communication and engagement between retailer and customer. We place the consumer at the heart of the journey by giving them the freedom of choice to purchase from their preferred retailers and at the same time, have the flexibility to collect their purchases according to their expectations and lifestyle,” explained Prashant Dadlani, founder of blu.He claims that with bluGate, shoppers can now shop anywhere online with peace of mind regardless of their busy schedules.bluPorts have been in operation since October 2016 allowing local retailers to offer the first same-day self-collection option in Singapore using a system that integrates several retail logistics solutions under one roof. These include warehousing, order and inventory management, automated fulfillment, and last-mile logistics.The launch of bluGate puts freedom and choice in shoppers’ hands, as they can now arrange for self-collection of items from any retailers worldwide, even those that have yet to be a part of blu’s network.  Caption: Image by iStockPhoto

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16-09-2017
India: best place for online retailing says A.T. Kearney

The 2017 A.T. Kearney's Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) says geopolitical instability and the growing power of local and regional competition in emerging markets are forcing global retailers to rethink their strategies.The consultant says India is the top developing country for retail investment in 2017 citing the country’s strong GDP growth and growing middle class coupled with a more favorable regulatory environment over the past few years as key factors in its favor. Some Indian stats highlighted in the report include population: 1.33 billion; GDP per capita: US$6,658; and total retail sales: US$1.07 trillion. Online retail is projected to grow at 30% annually and reach US$48 billion by 2020.RELATED: Hyper-personalization: the next stage of competitive differentiation in retailThe 2017 GRDI, titled “The Age of Focus,” ranked China in second place. Despite its slower overall economic growth, the market’s size and the continued evolution of retail still make China one of the most attractive markets for retail investment. With a population of 1.38 billion, China’s GDP per capita is more than double that of India at $15,424. Total retail sales stands at US$3.13 trillion. Despite a predicted slowing economy, China’s retail sector actually grew at 10.4%. Retail is expected to contribute to 70% of the economy in 2017 – a bit much in my view.The report paints an overall dismal view of the sector as global retailers face high uncertainty amid changing geopolitical environment and increasing nationalist sentiments expressed by Brexit and America First.Figure 1: 2017 GRDI attractivenessSource: A.T. Kearney 2017Faced with intensifying competition from local and regional retailers that have grown increasingly more sophisticated, and advancements in retail technology and e-commerce, retailers are being forced to pause and rethink their strategies.A.T. Kearney concludes that the past year has seen fewer retailers entering new markets or expanding within existing markets, as well as many retailers examining their footprints and logistics network to reduce store counts or exit markets altogether.Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study says “Retailers are thinking twice about expansion into places where there is uncertainty about future government actions or high political risk.”For 2017, five Asian countries – India, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia – sit in the top 10 rankings of 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide (see chart below).Figure 2: 2017 Global Retail Development IndexSource: A.T. Kearney 2017For 2017, a defining characteristic of retail in developing markets is the rise of mobile shopping and its impact on global retail expansion. In many developing markets, mobile retail is the primary form of online shopping.“Mobile shopping is challenging the ways retailers think about global expansion, as well as about their role in the value chain,” says Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study. “We are expecting more retailers to use mobile as part of their future expansions plans.” Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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15-09-2017
Digital video ad spending to eclipse TV in China

Chinese cannot get enough of watching digital videos, especially over their mobiles. And advertisers are taking note. With millions becoming tethered online to videos, advertisers are boosting their ad spend on digital video channels.According to eMarketer digital video ad spend will soon overtake TV by 2021, estimating that overall digital ad spend in China will reach US$50.31 billion by the end of this year with 72.0% spent on mobile channels.Video is currently the fastest growing ad format within digital. By 2021 eMarketer expects it will overtake spending on traditional TV, accounting for 13.4% of all media ad expenditures.“Advertising on digital video is growing at a faster rate than overall display ads, and strong content is a key driver for this growth as brands are willing to spend more money to appear alongside the most popular content,” said Cindy Liu, a forecasting analyst at eMarketer in a press release.Digital videos are no longer playing second fiddle to their cable TVs rivals. Many already provide original content to keep their consumers glued. However, eMarketer sees video platform players taking a step forward by inking new partnerships that will drive further eyeballs to their platforms.“As well as investing in original content, video platforms are looking to establish exclusive partnerships. For example, iQiyi, Baidu’s on-demand video streaming service, recently announced a deal with Netflix to license some of their premium content,” Liu said.The shift in ad spend to digital videos will benefit the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) companies the most. eMarketer’s latest forecast noted that BAT companies combined will capture 64.1% of digital ad expenditures in China by the end of this year.Among the BAT companies, it is Alibaba who has the most to celebrate. eMarketer noted that the firm will corner more than 35% of China’s digital ad spend market in 2017. Baidu with an 18.4% share and Tencent with a 10.4% share will be far behind.“Alibaba continues to outperform expectations and is once again the strongest performer in terms of net digital ad revenues in China,” Liu said. “By incorporating social and video elements into its mobile shopping app – Taobao – Alibaba is able to capture more consumer time and thus attract more advertising spend.”Tencent, which is the faster growing company in terms of net digital ad revenues, will remain in third place through 2019. eMarketer believes the company is still being conservative.“Meanwhile, Tencent, which is the fastest growing company in terms of net digital ad revenues, will fall short of Alibaba and Baidu through 2019, as the company errs on the conservative side when it comes to unloading its ad inventory,” Liu said.Further reading: Online ad spend in China impacts the regionAlibaba pulls ahead of Baidu in digital adsChinese money set to shape adtech  Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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15-09-2017
Retailers should use smart solutions to fight e-commerce

Traditional brick and mortar retailers are in a state of disruption with e-commerce eroding revenue and influence of the physical store. Competing on price is a losing battle for traditional retailers. E-commerce sites, based on their massive scope and scale, are capable of underselling any local merchantAccording to the Frost paper, “Leveling the Playing Field: Leveraging Brick and Mortar Advantages to Compete with ecommerce”, by 2020, e-commerce will account for nearly 18% of the total retail market.E-commerce has effectively commoditized the routine shopping experience forcing retailers to look for ways to survive.However, analyst Frost & Sullivan says brick and mortar commerce has an advantage over e-commerce that most retailers are not leveraging – personalized experience.FREE Download: Leveling the Playing Field: Leveraging Brick and Mortar Advantages to Compete with ecommerceAs a continuing trend, this is troubling to physical retail, but with hyper-competition pressing margins, many brick and mortar retailers may not be able to survive an 18% decline in potential business. Nonetheless, the natural advantages of physical retail ensure that brick and mortar can not only survive, but can actually retain and build on its dominance in the consumer space.In today’s hypercompetitive retail market, providing the personal touch cannot be done cost-effectively when a consumer can decide to shop at any one of many store locations. To deliver a personal shopping experience, cutting edge technology is required; yet attempting to implement such technology on a single solution basis will guarantee a less than economical outcome. What is needed is a retail vendor that can deliver an end-to-end point-of-sale automation solution, one that enables seamless and flexible customer interaction but which also remembers consumers, and their shopping preferences.RELATED: Frost: e-commerce not end of the world for physical storesBuilding a retail experience, rather than a transaction exchange, requires that retailers begin thinking in terms of purpose rather than place. If the purpose is to engage with customers and to provide them with an experience rather than a purchase alone, then it is essential that the retailers treat every customer uniquely, providing an experience that is defined by each customer’s buying habits, preferences and past service experiences. In practice this means deploying POS technology and ERP systems that deliver customer specific information to sales personnel, in near real time, rather than delivering aggregated date on store traffic at the end of the week. 

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15-09-2017
InsurTech collaboration to open new avenues of growth for insurers

The global insurance industry is forecast to grow 4.5% in 2017 and 2018, according to Munich Re. Asia’s emerging markets are expected to have the greatest potential for growth, with Munich Re predicting the region to equal Western Europe in the next few years.The insurance industry is flushed with capital and in search of growth. But rather than take the traditional “we do everything inside” attitude, both incumbents and startups may find a more viable future working together. This is the overarching recommendation of the annual Global Insurance Market Opportunities (GIMO) report by insurance brokerage firm Aon Plc.The 2017 GIMO report says successful collaboration is finding a balance between the stability of incumbents and the creative potential of startups. It suggested the creation of open architecture model with both sides collaboration to create a framework which has both standards that enable scalable solutions for clients and the flexibility that encourages entrepreneurial innovation.NEWS: Hong Kong FinTech Week 2017 to deep dive on disruptive innovationsThe report says data and analytics will occupy a central position in the industry as it is the glue that connects risks and capital. The addition of technology into the mix offers an opportunity for renewal and growth.The report says three of the leading areas where analytics can help with insurance industry growth – cyber risk, casualty catastrophe risk, and pathogen risk – could become increasingly insurable through collaborations with Insurtech companies, and technology and analytics providers. This presents new opportunities for insurers and reinsurers to provide new and enhanced products.Figure 1: Understanding the marketSource: Global Insurance Market Opportunities, AON PlcPaul Mang (photo right), Aon’s Global CEO of Analytics, said: “We know that the insurance sector is facing challenges in the current macroeconomic environment; so we should expect leading organizations in the industry to drive change.  We are already using technology to make us more efficient as a sector, and to expand into emerging risk markets. However, the true transformation will happen as we re-imagine risk management altogether. In this new environment, collaborations, or what we call open architecture innovation, will be key to creating net new growth.”Meanwhile, the on-demand economy (ODE) is presenting both opportunity and disruption to the traditional insurance sector, through the requirement for a greater range of time-based insurance products that recognize that assets such as cars and homes are increasingly used on both a commercial and personal basis – driven by the increasing utilization of services such as Grab, and Airbnb.In terms of disruption, the report highlights that US motor pure premiums could decrease by more than 40% of their 2015 levels by 2050 – the point at which autonomous vehicles are expected to be fully adopted. However, while accident frequency is anticipated to reduce as a result of driverless technology, the study warns that accident severity could increase and that a transfer of liability could occur, from drivers to car manufacturers and software providers. Caption: Image by iStockPhoto

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15-09-2017
More Hong Kong companies plan to provide flexible employee benefits, says study

The number of companies in Hong Kong that is interested in adopting flexible benefits increased from 13% in 2015 to 28% in 2016, according to “The Hong Kong Employee Health and Benefits Survey 2016” conducted by Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB), a partnership between global professional services firms, Mercer and Marsh.When asked about the reasons for implementing flexible benefits programs, 88% said they are responding to diverse workforce needs and values, while 75% said it helps to remain competitive in the marketplace and improve employee engagement.Other reasons include maximizing the value of existing benefits spend, increasing employees’ appreciation of their benefits, supporting a total rewards program, controlling how much the company contributes to the cost of benefits and helping with staff retention and recruitment.“We are glad to see that there was an uptrend for companies in Hong Kong to adopt flexible benefits. Seventy-five percent of respondents who provided choice to employees in their benefits programs seek employees’ opinions when designing the programs. This reflects that companies would like to design programs that are most suitable to employees by considering their needs and preferences,” says Eva Liu, Principal and Regional Consultant, Mercer Marsh Benefits.“Medical (38%), dental (38%) and wellness programs (38%) were the most popular flexible benefits used by employees. This highlights the importance of medical and dental coverage as well as overall health management to employees.”Of companies who did not currently provide flexible programs for their employees, 28% intended to offer such choices within the next five years, while 55% were uncertain about introducing such plans.“For employers that offer employee choice programs, the main challenges faced during implementation are cost and demonstrating return on investment. Other challenges include complexity of administration and resource constraints,” added Liu.“However, companies will need to overcome these challenges to adopt these flexible programs to engage, retain and respond to their employees.”Employers concerned about rising medical costsEighty-eight percent of Hong Kong employers are concerned about rising medical costs. Most of the companies bear full premium costs for employee benefits for both medical and risk. Compared to 2015, the costs of both medical and risk benefits increased as a percentage of annual payroll.With regard to rising medical costs, 55% of companies have adopted cost-containment measures. The most popular measure adopted by employers is implementation of a panel arrangement (34% from 32% in 2015), followed by providing wellness programs.An increased percentage of respondents implemented a cost-sharing arrangement with employees, while there was a significant drop in the percentage of respondents (37% from 47% in 2015) adopting remarketing. 

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15-09-2017
Singapore SMBs lead APAC in implementing two-factor authentication solutions

Among small and medium businesses in Asia Pacific, Singapore firms were most likely to have adopted two-factor authentication (2FA) security solutions, shows data from the ESET 2017 SMBs survey.More than one-third (42%) of survey respondents in Singapore have adopted 2FA solutions, the highest rate among countries surveyed in Asia Pacific including Hong Kong, Japan, India and Thailand.In addition, Singapore had the smallest proportion of businesses (40%) experiencing cyber breaches due to 2FA, suggesting that the implementation of 2FA might have been relatively effective.The willingness of Singapore SMBs to adopt 2FA could be attributed to the country's strong cybersecurity infrastructure.A large majority of Singapore SMBs (81%) indicated that they have a dedicated IT team, which represents businesses' emphasis on investing in and dedicating resources to IT. However, there is still some way to go for Singapore SMBs with 54% having experienced a cyber breach within the past three years, which cost them an average of US$36,690 per breach."Given the evolving threat landscape, businesses should understand the importance of multiple layers of security to protect their confidential data," said Parvinder Walia, Sales and Marketing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, ESET. "It is heartening to see that Singapore is taking strides towards 2FA adoption and strengthening its cybersecurity framework as it advances towards becoming a Smart Nation where almost everything will be connected."The latest findings from ESET mirror the data on the overall perceptions and activities around cybersecurity for the region. Businesses in the region appear to be stepping up efforts in the fight against cybercrime given that a majority of businesses, regardless of size or market region, reported utilizing cyber security solutions such as antivirus software and firewalls.The survey polled 1,500 respondents with 300 respondents from small and medium businesses in each of the following markets: Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Thailand and Japan. 

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CyberLink Vol.108 August 2017

GOGOVAN merges with 58 Suyun to become largest intra-city logistics platform in Asia

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CyberLink Vol.107 July 2017

Cyberport start-ups shine at the global arena of RISE

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CyberLink Vol.106 June 2017

Cyberport companies bag top 3 awards at Citi HK FinTech Challenge 2017

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