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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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08-12-2017
Absence of text-based chat frustrates Singaporeans

A growing number of consumers find it easier to deal with organizations via messaging and social media, according a new research study by BT and Cisco, which noted that this trend is likely driven by a surge in the use of messaging apps such as WhatsApp.This finding was outlined in the report “Chat, tap, talk: Eight key trends to transform your digital customer experience”, and is based on an independent survey of 5,000 consumers across Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US.The preference towards text-based chat is particularly clear in China, where 37 percent of respondents say they use the messaging app WeChat for customer service. Elsewhere, 58 percent of respondents in Singapore admitted to getting frustrated if text-based chat not available, compared to almost half (48%) of respondents from elsewhere.Other findings from the study include the fact that 70 percent of those aged 18 to 34 years old said they are sourcing more and more of their products and services via social media, suggesting that an online presence and a social media strategy is no longer optional.Indeed, 65 percent of respondents in India say they have no problem contacting an organization via Facebook or Twitter if they have a problem which needed solving urgently, or around 37 percent on average. And when asked how they would like to receive support from an organization while accessing its services online, 65 percent of respondents said they would prefer to use webchat, a jump from 45 percent in 2015.“We live in a world where customers will change providers if an app is slow or it takes too many clicks to get a question answered. This research underscores that consumer-facing organizations need an integrated omni-channel strategy to be successful. Such a strategy will help them engage, innovate and be proactive to improve sales,” said Tom Puorro, the VP and GM of the Unified Communications Technology Group at Cisco.“While ‘typing’ to request customer support is increasingly popular, the research shows that people still want the option to ‘talk’. This creates a challenge for contact center operators as they now need a technology platform that can handle both the evolving mix of apps that customers wish to use and traditional service channels such as the phone,” said Andrew Small, VP of unified communications and CRM of Global Services at BT.Further reading:WeChat on how to make chat platforms work for youThe ugly truth about chatbotsHow OCBC flirted with chat and won Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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08-12-2017
ASEAN Foundation to drive youths’ digital literacy through collaboration

The ASEAN Foundation and SAP SE announced on 29 November the continuation of their strategic collaboration into 2018, following a successful collaboration in its first year to bring about social impact in ASEAN. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ASEAN Foundation and SAP, both organizations will jointly roll out initiatives under two strategic pillars next year, namely Education and Entrepreneurship.The initiatives are aimed at equipping ASEAN youths with the skills they need to tackle society’s problems and thrive in the digital economy; build the capacity of innovative social enterprises that put young people on the path to successful careers and build a skilled workforce for the IT sector with training and workforce development programs.The inaugural year of this collaboration yielded positive outcomes under the following pillars:EducationThe ASEAN Data Science Explorers competition attracted 804 participants from 112 institutions across the 10 ASEAN member states. In the lead-up to the competition, students were trained in SAP’s Analytics Cloud software through a series of webinars and in-country seminars, with more than 600 students accessing the platform. The competition solicited data-driven insights and ideas on the most pressing social issues in the region. Some highlights include the submission by Team “Omotesando” from Indonesia that aims to accelerate financial inclusion as a solution to poverty eradication through branchless banking, and the submission by Team “Tonkar Data” from Laos which proposes the adoption of smart and vertical farming in ASEAN to improve productivity in agriculture.VolunteerismThe Youth Volunteering Innovation Challenge (YVIC), under the theme “Impact ASEAN”, supported young volunteers throughout the ASEAN region in their journey to catalyze youth-led innovation for social impact and sustainable development by providing access to mentors and capital they need to start or scale up their projects. 29 young volunteer innovators from ten teams across ASEAN participated in the YVIC 2017 as part of a collaborative effort by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the ASEAN Foundation, the ASEAN Secretariat, SAP and with the close support of the Government of Germany.EntrepreneurshipUnder the collaboration, SAP supported 9 of out the Top 50 ASEAN social enterprises through two programs namely the SAP Social Sabbatical and NUS Crossing the Chasm Challenge. SAP employees provided mentorship and consulting to help the enterprises run better.“Through this synergetic collaboration, we have been able to leverage resources from both organizations to inspire ASEAN youths to actively participate in efforts towards driving a sustainable future for ASEAN. With digitization being the pivotal force in today's ASEAN economies, both the public and the private sector need to work together to impart digital skills to the young,” said Elaine Tan, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation.The MoU was first signed on 9 May, 2017 at the ASEAN Foundation headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. Since then, the ASEAN Foundation and SAP have been executing on all the programs under the three pillars.Singapore’s IMDA to Co-Host ASEAN Data Science Explorers 2018In light of Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018, the ASEAN Data Science Explorers 2018 regional finals will be held in Singapore, with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) as a hosting partner.The ASEAN Data Science Explorers targets tertiary students in all 10 ASEAN member states and is designed to promote awareness and appreciation of the ASEAN community amongst young people. Student participants are given access to ASEAN data as well as SAP Analytics Cloud platform, which allows them to better derive data-driven insights. In 2018, the program aims to reach out to 5,000 youths across ASEAN, with the objective of training them in data and analytics skills.“Singapore is pleased to host the ASEAN Data Science Explorers regional finals next year. It is one of the events that dovetail with the themes of Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship, which will focus on Resilience and Innovation. By encouraging digital literacy among our youths, the ASEAN Data Science Explorers program will support ASEAN’s efforts to harness digital technologies to secure a better future for our citizens,” said Ambassador Tan Hung Seng, Singapore Permanent Representative to ASEAN.

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08-12-2017
MCL Cinemas, BookDoc in healthcare-entertainment collaboration

MCL Cinemas have inked a collaboration deal with BookDoc in giving treats to BookDoc users for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Users can now watch movies at a discount from MCL Cinemas all across Hong Kong for staying active.The ACTIV feature rewards its users according to their average daily steps, which are tiered at bronze, silver gold and platinum. Being able to sync with other health applications such as Apple Health, Samsung Health, Google Fit, Fitbit and Jawbone, it enables users to keep track of their daily exercise and get rewarded for it. By maintaining a high level of activity, users can also get discounts or 'freebies' from major retailers and service providers across countries."When the application first started, it helps users to locate and arrange their medical appointments, but I believe prevention is better than cure, so that is why BookDoc, Activ feature was launched. Now we have operational presence in four (4) countries and collaboration with reward partners in twelve (12) countries. The objective of this application is to motivate users to start living a healthier lifestyle," added Beh. "BookDoc, ACTIV feature does so through positive reinforcement, and with a zero cost of entry. We hope to begin a social fitness movement, bringing in more partners and users, our objective is to encourage user to live a healthier lifestyle," said BookDoc Founder and CEO Dato' Chevy Beh.MCL Cinemas' Marketing Manager, Ms Winki Liu said, "We are excited about this collaboration opportunity.  To us, it is a new attempt demonstrating how the entertainment and healthcare industry can work well together in perfect synergy. Watching a good movie at leisure time, to many of us, can be inspirational in our pursuit for a healthier lifestyle. MCL is very pleased to share our ticket discount offer to the BookDoc users for their best enjoyment."BookDoc app is downloadable for free on the App Store or Google Play Store.  Caption: Dato Chevy Beh, BookDoc Founder and CEO and Ms Winki Liu, MCL Cinema Marketing Manager

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07-12-2017
NUS, SCIEX to launch biomedical research center

SCIEX, a life science analytical technologies company, and the Protein and Proteomics Centre (PPC) under the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Science, have announced plans to launch the "first of its kind" proteomics and mass spectrometry training centre in Southeast Asia in 2018, aimed at training the next generation of scientists to advance biomedical research and proteomics studies across Asia Pacific.Mass spectrometry and proteomics technologies are widely applied to the biomedical and environmental research fields.PPC and SCIEX have an established partnership since the inauguration of PPC at NUS Faculty of Science in 2000. More recently in 2015, SCIEX launched its first regional Centre of Distinction with PPC.  As part of the partnership, PPC and SCIEX have also been co-organising workshops on proteomics and bioinformatics data analysis for the past five years and have seen a growing need for such training to be provided regularly. This new collaboration addresses this industry gap by offering curricula designed to impart in-depth knowledge of proteomics and mass spectrometry to the next generation of scientists."SCIEX and PPC at NUS Faculty of Science has built a strong relationship over the years, and has received great response from the scientific community in the field of protein and proteomics. With strong support from SCIEX, PPC has been successful in providing core-facility support and services to the scientific research community and established a good reputation among scientists across the region. One of PPC's key expertise is in advanced research on proteins that could be used as disease biomarkers. Our work lay the foundation to spark future innovations in the biomedical sciences. We are confident that our collaboration with SCIEX will help to nurture future scientists who will bring about greater advancements in biomedical research," said Professor Yu Hao, Head of the NUS Department of Biological Sciences.The training centre is also aligned with the local government's SkillsFuture initiative, which encourages lifelong learning. It will provide fit-for-purpose courses aimed to develop and enhance skillsets of local scientists and working professionals who wish to improve their competencies in the field of proteomics and mass spectrometry."We are very excited to work with PPC at NUS Faculty of Science on the first training centre of its kind in Southeast Asia," said Maha Guruswamy, Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific, SCIEX. "The centre will also drive a boost in the regional outreach within Asia Pacific, catering for the scientific community outside Singapore while stimulating more cross-border collaborations and partnerships.""SCIEX has a strong standing in Singapore, with our state-of-the-art global manufacturing centre for Mass Spectrometry and Liquid Chromatography producing 95% of our global units together with our Asia Pacificcustomer support and SCIEX Centre. In 2015, we launched the Centre of Distinction together with NUS to be at the forefront of advanced cancer discovery and development in the Asia Pacific region," said Inese Lowenstein, President of SCIEX. "The launch of the new training centre is another milestone that reflects our dedication to enable Singapore and the region based researchers and scientists to upgrade their skills sets and to eventually strengthen our scientific presence for the advancement of biomedical research and improving lives."

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07-12-2017
Global healthcare cloud market to hit $10B by 2021

Frost & Sullivan's research, Healthcare Cloud Computing Outlook, Global, 2016-2021, finds that the global market for healthcare cloud computing -- revenue generated by cloud computing services offered to providers -- will be worth almost $10 billion by 2021, primarily driven by the need to store the exponentially increasing volume of healthcare data. The research analyses key growth opportunities, business models, challenges, drivers, and industry-specific solutions being introduced using cloud platforms. Market participants, buyer behaviour, and customer expectations are also assessed.The healthcare industry has been slow to adopt new technologies, including the cloud. However, industry-wide demand to use health data to improve system efficiency, deliver value-based care and enable productive collaborations is driving investment in cloud solutions. At the heart of these innovations is a clear shift in healthcare providers' attitude toward cloud solutions with key decision makers now convinced that cloud environments are more secure than on-premise infrastructure, especially in terms of data back-up and disaster recovery."One major industry game-changer will be real-world data. The volume of unstructured medical and health data that is generated outside of clinical settings is growing exponentially, while the need for such data sets is even direr among providers, pharmaceuticals, medical technology vendors, governments, and university researchers," said Digital Health Research Manager Natasha Gulati. "Growing awareness of the benefits of open platforms and increasing industry focus on interoperability and collaborative solution design are creating a huge demand for vertically integrated cloud platforms that open the data to multiple stakeholders who are willing to share the risks and the rewards of shared data assets."Furthermore, hospitals, physician practices, and other facets of the continuum of care will rapidly adopt cloud platforms to improve data and application access, enhance interoperability, and manage, store, and archive a wide range of health data for the enterprise. Applications that leverage de-identified patient information that is collated from and analysed at multiple points of care are an important growth opportunity."An increasing number of providers are opting to build versus buy when it comes to their organizational applications. In the past few years there have been significant investments in internal apps that integrate with EHRs, with the United States taking the lead in this area," noted Gulati. "Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers greater control over custom apps developed by providers compared to Software as a Service (SaaS), while it reduces the costs as well as data location and ownership concerns associated with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Increasing demand for mobile apps, from both clinical staff and patients further fuels the need for custom app development."

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07-12-2017
Napier, IMDA, SATA CommHealth study tele-health effectiveness in Singapore

Singapore-based leading long-term care technology solutions provider Napier Healthcare Solutions has announced the completion of a study on the effectiveness of tele-health in the management of chronic illness among the elderly. With increasing focus on Smart Health and Smart Nation initiatives in Singapore, the study focussed on chronic illnesses among the elderly in the Chai Chee community in Singapore.                 The study was done with the support of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and local community healthcare provider SATA CommHealth. It is based on a tele-health trial that began in August 2016 and ended in February 2017, and tracked the health condition of 45 recruited patients (aged between 45 and 78 years) with a medical history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus or both. In addition, 15 elderly patients with degenerative joint diseases (such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis) received tele-rehabilitation services.   Using Napier Healthcare’s tele-health solution installed in their homes, they were required to take their blood pressure, blood glucose level, heart rate and weight every day for each phase of the study.   Key findings from the study include the following:-15 patients who were common to both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the study were observed to have an improvement in all their vitals. The greatest impact of tele-health was on blood glucose level and diastolic blood pressure. The correlative values for these two indicate that their chances of improvements due to tele-health in blood glucose levels and blood pressure increased over a period of six months. Improvement registered in the mean values of blood glucose level and blood pressure with tele-consultation was up to 5% better than that achieved without tele-consultation across both phases. The 15 patients who received tele-rehabilitation services registered a marked improvement in their condition and had fewer complaints about their joint problems after their seven-week trial. Getting the elderly to use tele-health equipment is not exceptionally challenging. About 91% of the patients in the study agreed that the equipment was easy to use, and 77% would recommend the program to their families and friends. More than 95% were satisfied with the program over the two phases.The study concluded that:Tele-health services (tele-monitoring, teleconsultation and tele-rehabilitation) improve the overall health of the elderly over time. The incorporation of tele-consultation yields even better results than tele-health services that require patients to manage their own monitoring routines. The elderly require relatively more time to adapt to the use smart medical devices and receiving tele-health services. The elderly are most likely to want to continue using tele-health services for management of their conditions, after a brief initial period (typically one to two weeks) of adaptation.The press release from Napier claims that "these findings appear to validate long-held assumptions that the use of tele-health can improve the condition of chronic illness sufferers even as it lowers the cost of care."   In the Singapore Government’s population enablement programme under the National Health IT Master Plan, tele-health was cited as an essential platform for effecting the Singapore healthcare sector’s shift away from institution-based towards home and community care, and as a “workforce multiplier” to heighten its productivity and care provisioning capacity.   “Digital healthcare will have a significant role to play in caring for our population and ageing in place. It will also help reduce hospitalisation and enable the primary care sector to better manage chronic diseases in the community,” said Dr K Thomas Abraham, CEO, SATA CommHealth. “The digital healthcare revolution is an innovative and effective way to enhance the care of our patients with technologies like telehealth vital signs monitoring, tele-consultations and tele-rehabilitation. With constant monitoring, advice by healthcare professionals, suitable interventions and tele-consultations, we can achieve better healthcare outcomes. Moreover, with subsidies for those who need help, we can leverage on virtual healthcare, for example tele-health, to improve the health status of our population, especially those with chronic conditions”.

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07-12-2017
CtrlShift and iPinYou join forces to offer access to Chinese audiences

Singapore-based audience solutions company CtrlShift has announced that it is joining forces with China’s iPinYou to provide international brands and agencies access to Chinese audiences.The partnership is of interest with China’s digital ad spending is poised to grow by 27% this year to US$50 billion and account for almost 60% of paid media spend. Of note would be mobile ad spending, which rose 90% in the first quarter of this year.The partnership will come via an integration of the latter’s automated media buying technology platform with CtrlShift’s media buying and management portal know as ‘The Hub’. Clients of iPinYou will also be able to use The Hub to target global audiences outside of China.Users can manage media investments across geographies and platforms through The Hub, including technology and inventory partners such as other demand-side platforms (DSP), exchanges and private marketplaces. It is currently integrated with multiple buying platforms, including major social and search platforms, to offer a complete solution to reach audiences worldwide.On its part, iPinYou is China’s largest programmatic ad buying DSP provider with nearly 60 percent of market share across a diverse range of industries including consumer, finance and IT. The company’s digital advertising cloud platform integrates data from China’s leading consumer data providers, and offers clients a unique data-driven approach to market analysis, audience insights and product market fit assessment.“This collaboration and technology integration is another key milestone towards building the world’s one-stop Hub for media allocation and optimization, offering a streamlined channel to access audiences globally,” says Reza Behnam, co-founder and executive chairman at CtrlShift, noting that marketers using it will be able to engage a range of inventory and audience under a single portal.“China’s explosive consumer growth makes it one of the most enticing markets in the world for global brands, and we’re excited to be leading the charge with CtrlShift. Our primary goal is to ensure international companies that are launching and expanding their business in China, or targeting Chinese consumers globally, receive the greatest support from us,” says Sara Ye, the president of international markets at iPinYou.“iPinYou has the expertise, the resources, and advanced technology to help brands achieve their business goals in the most effective way. This partnership between CtrlShift and iPinyou is a game changer, bringing greater accessibility for advertisers to enter China,” she said.Further reading:Spotad to optimize programmatic mobile ad buying with AIWhy CMOs should care about supply path optimizationCMOs need to own up to YouTube ad debacle Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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07-12-2017
Mastercard opens proprietary blockchain technology to developers

Mastercard announced that it will be opening up access to its blockchain technology via its API published on Mastercard Developers. Mastercard says it will initially implement the technology in the business-to-business (B2B) space to address challenges of speed, transparency and costs in cross-border payments.“By combining Mastercard blockchain technology with our settlement network and associated network rules, we have created a solution that is safe, secure, auditable and easy to scale,” said Ken Moore, executive vice president, Mastercard Labs. “When it comes to payments, we want to provide choice and flexibility to our partners where they are able to seamlessly use both our existing and new payment rails based on the needs and requirements of their customers.” With this proprietary solution, Mastercard hopes to create new benefits for its partners and make the commerce ecosystem easier, faster and safer. In addition to building a new solution, the company has also filed for over 35 patents in blockchain and invested in Digital Currency Group, a collaborator that builds, incubates and seeds Bitcoin and blockchain technology-related companies. It recently joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to explore the possibilities of the Ethereum technology across a wide range of potential use cases, many of them well outside the scope of Mastercard’s traditional payments environment. In addition, Mastercard is also working on new use cases with startups that are a part of its Start Path Global program.The Mastercard blockchain technology will complement the company’s existing capabilities including virtual cards, Mastercard Send and Vocalink to support all types of cross-border, B2B payment flows – account-based, blockchain-based and card-based.  Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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07-12-2017
Americans value bank credit scores more than online apps

How important is your credit score?Javelin Strategy & Research’ s new report, Credit Scores in Digital Banking: How to Help Customers Become Better Borrowers, noted that many  Americans monitor their credit score at a bank or credit union rather than through online apps. Similarly, 2 in 3 monitor millennials track their score at their FI as compared to about half that use a non-bank online service or mobile app.“Banks and credit unions have the digital tools — or can develop them — to have a daily role in coaching customers how credit works and what customers can do to improve their ability to borrow and manage debt wisely. This is a win-win scenario, benefiting both consumers and financial institutions,” said Mark Schwanhausser, Director, Digital Banking at Javelin Strategy & Research.The report, Credit Scores in Digital Banking: How to Help Customers Become Better Borrowers, outlines how banks and credit unions and consumers can mutually benefit from digitally powered advice. Notably, building trust and an advisory relationship increases the odds that an FI will be the first choice when an applicant hits “Apply Now.” Insight and coaching also can make customers more willing to shoulder prudent debt, and improve an applicant’s creditworthiness and ability to repay. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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06-12-2017
British retailer Arcadia braces for a tough future and upgrades financial system

British retail group Arcadia, best known for its retail brands Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Outfit and Burton, plans to upgrade its financial system with CloudSuite Financials & Supply Management suite from Infor. The solution is expected to support international growth and underpin an evolving business model for the iconic retailer, and is anticipated to go live for 25,000 users in 2018.Part of the move to streamline operations Arcadia saw a need to consolidate processes across multiple business units to facilitate greater visibility, efficiency and more insightful, quicker reporting. In a press statement, Arcadia cited depth of functionality, ease of use and the vendor’s credentials in retail as reasons for picking the Infor solution, in addition to low total cost of ownership (TCO), flexibility, dynamism and scale associated with a cloud model.Arcadia CEO Ian Grabiner noted the importance of making sure its internal systems keep pace with the evolving business environment. He expects the Infor solution to will enable the retailer to achieve significant time savings, reductions in errors and superior insights which will give us greater agility.RELATED: Brick & Click promises superior retailing experience“This will help to propel our business expansion, as well as give us much slicker, more flexible reporting which is crucial in the fast-paced retail industry,” concludes Grabiner.“Fashion retail is an increasingly challenging sector, and companies simply can’t afford to be restricted in any way by back office systems that are outdated,” said Jason Berry, VP, EMEA – Retail, Infor. In the State of Fashion 2018 report, McKinsey predicts that 2018 will be an important tipping point as it will be the first time when more than half of the apparel and footwear sales will originate outside of Europe and North America. It forecasts emerging market countries across Asia-Pacific, Latin America and other regions to become the main sources of growth for the industry.The BoF-McKinsey Global Fashion Survey forecasts industry sales growth to nearly triple from 1.5% to between 3.5 to 4% for the period 2016-2018.The report concludes that the challenges of operating in a fundamentally changing industry and an unpredictable macroeconomic environment are forcing players to “toughen up.” In accepting unpredictability as the new normal, fashion executives are expected to respond by ‘focusing their energy on improving what is within their control’.For Arcadia the deployment of a new consolidated, cloud-based financial solution may just be part of the process of toughening up for the long haul. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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06-12-2017
Singapore’s AsiaMalls to deploy QR Code payment

In many parts of Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong, merchants have a few options to accept customer payments: cash, credit card, and stored value facilities in the form of e-wallets. But while merchants in Singapore are burdened with expensive to maintain and upkeep point of sale systems, China has become the poster child of digital mobile payments largely thanks to the wide adoption of QR Codes and the bold strategy of tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent to build payment platforms.Perhaps taking a lesson from China, Singapore’s AsiaMalls has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out acceptance of UnionPay QR Code payments across all six malls – Hougang Mall, Liang Court, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Tampines 1, White Sands, and Century Square when it reopens in 2018.As the first large-scale partnership between a mall manager and a global payment brand to deploy QR Code payments across malls in Singapore, this form of QR Code payments is compatible with SGQR and compliant with EMVCo standards.UnionPay International is a member of the SGQR taskforce led by Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to develop a common, interoperable QR Code to accelerate the adoption of mobile payments locally. UnionPay is also part of the EMVCo Global Workgroup developing an international standard for QR Code payments.IN OTHER PARTS OF ASIA: Globe's GCash launches QR code paymentsThis new partnership between AsiaMalls and UPI came from the mall management’s understanding of the shopper’s needs and the retail landscape, coupled with a mindset for innovation.Tapping onto existing payment infrastructure from AsiaMalls’ rewards program, AMperkz, the initiative will enable UnionPay Cardholders to enjoy greater ease of payment at all participating AsiaMalls merchants when the enhanced system rolls out in phases starting 2018.UnionPay QR Code payments allow merchant discounts and payment transactions to be processed via a single scan of the consumer-presented QR Code, providing added convenience and simplifying the payment process for both consumers and merchants alike. It will also open up opportunities for shoppers without NFC-enabled smartphones to make contactless mobile payments.While Singaporean consumers will naturally benefit from the deployment of the QR Code-based payment solution, the other significant target of this investment strategy by AsiaMalls are Chinese mainland tourists which in 2016 spent $3.52 billion, up 39% from 2015. An estimated 2.86 million Chinese tourists passed through Singapore in 2016, up 36% from 2015.Tan Kee Yong, Managing Director, AsiaMalls Management, says the introduction of the QR Code payment option will allow the stores to expand their clientele base.For its part, Cai Jianbo, Chief Executive Officer, UnionPay International, says the partnership will help promote UnionPay QR Code payment first in everyday spend merchants like shopping malls as this will not only help it localize its business, as well as help issuers like Bank of China Singapore branch and other local partners introduce more usage applications and promotions using the e-wallet platform in future. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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06-12-2017
Innovative investments opportunities fuel shadow banking in China

“One man’s loss is another’s gain” so says an old proverb. Nowhere is this more striking than in the financial services industry where increasingly stringent banking rules may actually fuel more business opportunities for non-bank.In China one such practice has translated into a US$15 trillion billion opportunity for those in the alternative financing market. At times referred to shadow banking, it is the use of non-bank intermediaries to offer traditional services. The allure of higher returns than banks attracts investors while those in need of financing see a more efficient outlet for securing financing for business ventures.To say that these non-bank intermediaries are unregulated is a misunderstanding noted Jolyon Ellwood-Russell (photo right), Partner at Simmons & Simmons, who noted that many of the ‘legitimate’ non-bank intermediaries are still regulated in some ways – just not as ‘stringent’ as banks.RELATED: China’s shadow banking crackdown needs a bigger stickTo be certain, authorities are concerned about speculative financing and shadow banking activities related to money laundering. According to RFi Group China’s financial watchdogs have adopted a series of ‘de-risking’ measures in 2017 including self-enforced self-checks and moved to enforce tough rules. However, International law firm Simmons & Simmons notes that shadow banking can also present innovative investment opportunities.Calling it the ‘bright side’ of shadow banking Ellwood-Russell says the practice is, at times, regarded as disruptive and dynamic. “In activities such as private debt funds, funding exports or supply chains, shadow banking should be viewed as an alternative means of funding the real economy,” he elaborated.He continued: “As a result of increasing capital reserve and compliance costs, the traditional players in financing structures, such as trade and commodities, have been exiting the market. This has created opportunities that are now being increasingly filled by funds and institutional investors.”Shadow banking is gaining strength at a growing pace according to Ellwood-Russell: “New asset classes such as within trade and commodities are looking attractive, both in terms of returns and low default rates. With growing visibility of the supply chain and the underlying assets made possible by new technology in trade and trade platforms, funds are finding it increasingly easy to understand and assess the risk of these types of transactions that used to be the sole domain of the banks.”  Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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05-12-2017
Retail sector leads commercial spending on AR/VR in 2018 says IDC

Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to reach US$17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 95% over the US$9.1 billion according to IDC. The analysts predicts a steady growth rate of 98.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over five years from 2017-2021."Virtual reality will continue to drive greater levels of spending in the next 12-18 months, as both consumer and commercial use cases gain traction. There is currently a huge appetite from companies that see tremendous potential in the technology, from product design to retail sales to employee training," said Tom Mainelli, program vice president, Devices and AR/VR at IDC.Mainelli says head-mounted displays will primarily sell into commercial use cases. Overall the commercial sectors will represent more than 60% of AR/VR spending in 2018 and grow to more than 85% of the worldwide total in 2021.Each of the five commercial sectors is forecast to undergo triple-digit spending growth throughout the forecast, led by the public sector with a five-year CAGR of 156.7%. The largest of the commercial sectors in 2018 will be distribution and services (US$4.1 billion), led by the retail, transportation, and professional services industries. Retail will be the industry with the largest AR/VR spending in 2018, followed by the process manufacturing and construction industries.In the distribution and services sector, retail showcasing and online retail showcasing will be the two largest use cases with combined spending of more than US$950 million in 2018. Online retail showcasing will also experience exceptional spending growth with a five-year CAGR of 225%.“Commercial entities are ready to embrace virtual reality for both customer-facing use cases and internal ones," said Marcus Torchia, research director of IDC Customer Insights & Analysis."There are a lot of opportunities here to develop commercial-grade hardware and applications that meet the needs of these industries. Meanwhile, phone-based AR is likely to garner most of the excitement for the near term and many companies are already experimenting with AR apps and services. Some of these will be useful, many won't be, but over the course of the next 12–18 months, we should start to see developers beginning to grasp the potential of AR." Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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04-12-2017
Singtel partners NTU, A*STAR to develop AI, data analytics, robotics and IoT

Singtel today signed agreements with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to spearhead R&D efforts in emerging technologies that will support Singapore’s transformation into Smart Nation and help enable the country’s digital economy.Under a five-year partnership, Singtel, NTU Singapore and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF Singapore) will establish a S$42.4 million corporate lab, to be called Singtel Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for Enterprises (SCALE@NTU), to develop applications for use in the areas of public safety, smart urban solutions, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing. The partners, through their collective expertise and resources, aim to accelerate innovation in the fields of AI, advanced data analytics, robotics and smart computing.Bill Chang, Chief Executive Officer, Group Enterprise at Singtel, said, “As businesses face the rising threat of technological disruptions, companies are constantly seeking innovative ways to gain deeper insights through data analytics, better engage their customers and transform their operations through digitalization. To help companies address these challenges, we are stepping up our R&D efforts to develop deep capabilities in these focused areas.”The research by SCALE@NTU aims to resolve various challenges faced by cities in keeping their infrastructure facilities in tip top running condition. With the use of smart sensors embedded with AI, governments can analyze data from infrastructure facilities to decide when it is necessary to conduct maintenance works to achieve optimal performance for these assets. This could help cut operating costs for cities that currently spend significant amounts on routine maintenance, whilst not compromising on infrastructure quality and performance standards.Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Acting Provost, Chief of Staff and Vice President (Research) said, “For Singapore to achieve its Smart Nation vision, we have to keep pushing the frontiers of AI and develop innovative ways to process, analyze and utilize big data. This is how the collaborative effort between Singtel and NTU on cognitive computing will make a huge impact, improving productivity for businesses while making our cities smarter and more efficient.”Over the next five years, some 100 researchers from Singtel and NTU will work at SCALE@NTU, while another 200 research engineers, graduate and undergraduate students will also be trained in the lab. The collaboration builds on NTU’s strong expertise in AI and data science, with the university ranked world No. 2 by Nikkei and Elsevier for having the most-cited research papers in these areas.George Loh, NRF Singapore’s Director (Programs), said, “The lab will provide a platform for researchers and engineers from both academia and industry to work together to translate cutting-edge research into digital solutions and offerings by our companies, while nurturing a pipeline of digital talent who can drive Singapore’s Smart Nation journey.”Singtel and A*STAR will also work together on projects including smart building automation systems, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) applications that could help boost operating efficiencies in various industries. Robots can be deployed to handle biohazardous waste, allowing companies to assign their employees to undertake higher value-added jobs. Such technologies can be tested in a model factory to be set up by A*STAR next year.Professor Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director of the Science and Engineering Research Council at A*STAR, said, “Public-private partnerships and open innovation pave the way for successful projects that could benefit the Singapore economy and lives of Singaporeans. In this age where disruptions are emerging rapidly, such joint collaborations are all the more valuable.”

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04-12-2017
Robotics program to accelerate digital transformation at DBS Bank

The behind the scenes operations of most financial institutions is a plethora of systems, processes and people that may, to an outside observer, look like a complex network of systems resembling that of the Tokyo transportation network, itself a combination of really old and some relatively new systems that operate independent of each other but try to convey an image of a connected environment.They may not always agree but IT is the central nervous system of a bank linking services to business units, customers and back office functions. The disruption that followed the entry of Fintechs into the banking scene has caused many banks to revisit their IT infrastructure, with some looking to tap the same technologies that startups are using to re-engineer and/or transform existing banking operations.Financial organizations perform thousands of time-intensive business processes and manual tasks, which may contribute to rising operating expenses, low employee productivity, high error rates, and reduced speed-to-market. Automation using software robots is expected to help mitigate the risks that come with repetitive processes.These soft robots use programs to help to manage and execute a wide range of repetitive, rules-based tasks that require handling high volumes of structured data. These robots also have the capacity to operate 24/7, allowing organizations to remain operational outside of standard working hours and maintain operational efficiencies.DBS Bank and IBM are working together to scale an enterprise-wide Centre of Excellence (COE) in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which the bank claims is the first-of-its-kind large-scale implementation in the financial services sector in Singapore and the region.More than 50 complex businesses processes across the bank have optimized since the center was set up in June 2017. According to the bank, it intends to roll out the RPA program to other markets including Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan.“As the region's leading digital bank, DBS is committed to delivering innovative and unique experiences for our customers and employees, which are critically dependent on the flexibility of our bank's processes. Cognitive and robotics process automation is an important capability that will help with the necessary speed and agility to meet the rapidly changing demands of customers and the evolving financial services marketplace,” said Soh Siew Choo, Managing Director, Technology and Operations, DBS Bank.According to research conducted by leading analyst firm Forrester, it is estimated that by 2019, process automation will change up to 25% of the work associated with all job categories.Soh said IBM will provide end-to-end services for implementing and maintaining the RPA program as a COE. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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CyberLink Vol.111 November 2017

Cyberport Venture Capital Forum forges win-win partnership for investors and start-ups

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CyberLink Vol.110 October 2017

Klook raised US$60M, the largest funding ever for in-destination service booking platform

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CyberLink Vol.109 September 2017

Cyberport FinTech Delegation to London lays important groundwork for future success

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