ICT Update: January 2, 2018

ICT Update | January 2, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Shay Wester, Kim Yaeger, Ella Duangkaew
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • January 26 or 27, 2018: Laos Digital Economy Forum: The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and the Lao ICT Commerce Association are partnering with U.S. Embassy alumni to hold Laos’ first Digital Economy Forum. The purpose of the one-day forum is to expose government policy makers and business leaders to the opportunities the digital economy can create for Laos, explain how the digital economy can accelerate inclusive economic growth, and to facilitate discussions on how Laos can create the right policy environment to foster the growth of the digital economy. The forum will include minister-level participation- a Deputy Prime Minister or the Prime Minister himself is expected to make a keynote address- as well as panel discussions focused on issues such as electronic payment systems, e-governance, and e-commerce. The forum will be held on either January 26 or 27 and a large media presence is expected. The organizers are seeking participation and sponsorship from the U.S. private sector. Sponsorship of the forum would include participation in either Davos-style panel discussions or breakout sessions with policymakers, and an opportunity to engage with Laos’ top leadership on issues related to the digital economy. If you are interested in sponsoring the forum, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.
  • April 2-6, 2018: ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (Singapore): Please save the date for the Council's annual Mission to the AFMGM. The Financial Services Committee plans to consult with the assembled Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on ASEAN integration issues and hold bilateral meetings with leaders on the sidelines of the event. More information on the event, planning, and registration will be distributed in early 2018. Please contact Shay Wester at swester@usasean.org if you have any enquiries
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Indonesia Issues First-Ever Fintech Regulation

Indonesia’s central bank, Bank Indonesia (BI), has issued the country’s first-ever regulation overseeing financial technology (fintech). BI Regulation 19/12/PBI/2017 (full regulation here in Bahasa Indonesia) was made public by BI on December 7. The stated aim of the legislation is to regulate the implementation of fintech to foster innovation, ensure consumer protection, and manage risk to maintain monetary and financial system stability and an efficient, safe, and reliable payment system.

Among its provisions, the regulation:

  • Defines fintech, fintech activities, and fintech providers;
  • Requires all fintech providers to register with BI, with certain exceptions;
  • Requires fintech providers to submit a letter of compliance within three months of registering;
  • Defines virtual currency, and prohibits fintech providers from using it;
  • Introduces a regulatory sandbox that allows fintech providers to test their products, services or technologies; and
  • Details how BI will monitor the activities of registered fintech providers, primarily by publishing a list of all registered providers on its website and requiring providers to submit any requested information or data.

. For further details on these areas, see a report on the regulation from SSEK Indonesia Legal Consultants here. To support the implementation of this regulation, BI also issued Regulations 19/14/PDAG 2017 and 19/15/PDAG/2017 (found here and here in Bahasa Indonesia), which both came into effect on November 30.

The regulation’s stated aim to foster innovation, as well as the introduction of the Regulatory Sandbox, indicates that BI intends to provide freedom and flexibility to fintech providers. However, there is concern around potentially restrictive provisions, including that Rupiah must be used in every transaction conducted in Indonesia, which may cause additional business burden to foreign players that primarily conduct their transactions in other currencies. Additionally, the regulation requires any cooperation between registered fintech providers and Payment System Service Providers to obtain approval from BI first. The process to obtain approval may delay any cooperation or partnerships, possibly hindering innovation and growth of fintech and payment system providers. It will be important going forward to recognize BI’s efforts to foster innovation and provide flexibility through a Regulatory Sandbox; but also to advocate for the removal or adjustment of certain restrictive requirements in the regulation that would hinder the very innovation it is trying to encourage. 

Singapore to Seek Public Views on Short-Term Home Rentals

On December 8, the Government of Singapore stated that it plans to seek public feedback on a regulatory framework for allowing short-term rentals or accommodation in private homes, such as the services provided through Airbnb. The Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) has stated that the government will review and consider safeguards to ensure short-term renting does not negatively affect the amenity of residential estates. According to Reuters, the URA has also said that part of the public consultation exercise “will involve working with key stakeholders, such as representatives of home-sharing platforms, resident groups  and other accommodation providers to ensure that the framework is robust and addresses the concerns of all parties, including residents and industry stakeholders.”

According to Singaporean news outlet Today, this move follows complaints the government has received on the strict rules currently in place on short-term property rentals. Singapore’s current rules only allow for a minimum stay of three consecutive months in private homes, and does not allow for transient occupants. The rules stipulate that those needing accommodation of less than three months should consider hotels or serviced apartments. In addition, just this week two men were prosecuted under the Planning Act for renting out their units for less than three months without permission from the URA (deeming their letting “unauthorized”). This was the first prosecution of its kind, and if found guilty the men are liable for a fine of up to S$200,000 per offense. The men had arranged the rentals through Airbnb.

There is no further detail on when the public consultation period will take place, however the URA’s action to seek public feedback is an encouraging step towards relaxing current regulations around short-term rentals. The Government of Singapore has already been an early adopter of the sharing economy, particularly for digital platforms like Uber. Given that developing and growing the digital economy is a key priority of Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship year, allowing flexibility for short-term rentals, particularly through digital providers, will be a positive step to further this priority.

Thailand Removed from U.S. Priority Watch List for Intellectual Property

On December 15, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that Thailand was removed from the U.S. Priority Watch List (PWL) to the lower Watch List (WL) category for intellectual property protection and enforcement. This followed the conclusion of a Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Thailand’s PWL status, which was initiated on September 15 in response to the positive steps Thailand had taken to address intellectual property issues (see the full announcement of the Review here). In a statement released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer stated that the U.S. welcomes the corrective actions taken by the Government of Thailand to improve intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement. The statement notes that close engagement between the two countries as part of the U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) forum yielded results resolving U.S. IP concerns on many issues, particularly patents, pharmaceuticals, trademarks, and copyright. Specifically, the statement recognizes Thailand’s progress in establishing an interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy, with a subcommittee on enforcement against intellectual property infringement, led by the highest levels of government; addressing patent and trademark issues, particularly by joining the Madrid Protocol and increasing the number of examiners to reduce patent application backlogs; and improving transparency in pharmaceutical issues, specifically by inviting stakeholder input while considering amendments to the Drug Act.

Thailand had been on the Priority Watch List for 10 years prior to this announcement. Being removed from the list is a long-awaited sign of approval from the U.S. regarding Thailand’s efforts to improve IP protection. Thailand’s new status can build higher confidence in foreign investors and businesses, particularly technology players, that want to continue operations in Thailand, particularly operations which are IP sensitive. However, there are still issues that remain to be addressed, such as the widespread availability and use of counterfeit products and unlicensed software detailed in the Special 301 Report released earlier this year (found here). Thailand and the U.S. will continue working together to address these outstanding issues, and the private sector has an opportunity to play an important role in these collaborative efforts, including by highlighting remaining concerns to further improve IP protection in Thailand. The Council’s Thailand Committee will also look to include advocating for strengthening IPR as an agenda item in its 2018 work plan.

Indonesia Preparing Regulation to Register E-Commerce Businesses

Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade is preparing a draft government regulation that will require anyone who performs transactions through an electronic system to register their businesses with the Ministry, according to Director General of Domestic Trade Tjahya Widayanti. On December 18, the Director General said that the regulation has been submitted to the State Secretariat and hopes it will be issued by the end of the year. He stated that the Ministry is also preparing a supporting regulation to provide technical details on implementing the government regulation, such as how the registration process will be regulated and how online seller identity numbers will be issued (these identity numbers will need to be displayed on the e-commerce business’s online platform, according to the Director General). He added that the Ministry will also create a list of register e-commerce businesses to ensure their legality to customers, and help customers feel more secure performing transactions on registered platforms. The Ministry will also place unregistered e-commerce businesses on a watch list. The Ministry’s Distribution and Business Supervision Director, Budi Santoso, has also said that the Ministry is holding internal discussions on registration requirements for these online sellers.

As governments throughout the region seek to ensure security online, they must also consider how potentially burdensome requirements may stifle innovation. The Council will advocate for a public consultation period to ensure that any requirements support, rather than restrict, the promising growth of the digital economy in Indonesia.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
  • As of January 1, 2018, the Council assumed operations of the US ICT Council for Myanmar, an existing association of eight U.S. technology companies. The ICT Council, which is currently seeking to identify a full-time Executive Director, will conduct advocacy, organize workshops, and generally support member companies in building a forward-looking ICT regulatory environment in Myanmar. Please contact Matt Solomon at msolomon@uasean.org with any questions.
  • The Council is continuing its advocacy efforts with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore on its revised draft Cloud Outage Incident Response (COIR) guidelines. On December 5, the Council, BSA | The Software Alliance and our members met IMDA to discuss the draft (brief meeting notes are available here), and IMDA re-affirmed its intent to proceed with the conversion of the COIR guidelines to a local Singapore standard. The Council and BSA submitted joint-association comments to reiterate the concerns in our earlier July submission that local COIR standards may be inconsistent with international standards, thereby dampening innovation in cloud computing services in Singapore. We strongly encourage IMDA to partner with industry to develop appropriate guidelines for the sector and demonstrate Singapore's thought leadership in international standards development forums. For any questions or input, please contact Shay Wester at swester@usasean.org.
  • The Council is continuing its advocacy efforts with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on its recent Exposure Draft on Outsourcing. On November 10, the Council submitted a letter highlighting member concerns that the draft is too restrictive and lacks transparency in key areas. The letter further encourages BNM to apply the regulations only to material services via a risk-based approach and to either transparently define the process for approval of outsourcing arrangements or to switch to a notification regime. The regulation has been in development for several years and the Council has in the past urged BNM to accelerate the development process as the lack of updated regulations has been interfering with the outsourcing of information technology services. The Exposure Draft is available here while the Council's comments can be found here. For any questions, please contact Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org or Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

ASEAN
China techs driving data center investment across Southeast Asia

Cambodia
Kingdom’s startups stuck in the middle with no capital
Local SMEs are urged to digitise payments

Indonesia
Indonesian Central Bank Regulates Financial Technology
E-commerce firms to be registered: Ministry
Digital technology boosts brand value: Jokowi
BPS to start collecting e-commerce data in January
Indonesia making progress in global ICT ranking
Indonesia among Asia Pacific countries with slowest internet connection

Malaysia
Islamic Digital Economy aims to increase GDP contribution
E-commerce penetration rate to reach 5% next year
Malaysia to introduce first Islamic Digital Framework
Bricks-and-mortar local retailers turn to Internet to sell more
Will new laws stop the Uber and Grab boom?
Cryptocurrency remains exposed to digital threat
Digital currencies not legal tender: Bank Negara

Philippines
Dev't Academy of the Philippines chief fired over foreign trips
Privacy agency begins data protection drive for LGUs
Duterte wants China telco up and running in 90 days
New govt body aims to build public trust on ‘digital economy’
Online trading platform to boost business growth
Only Chinese telco welcome – Palace

Singapore
Police warn of fake DBS Bank and SIA websites phishing for personal details
MAS urges cryptocurrency investors to act with ‘extreme caution’
Singapore to seek public views on short-term home rentals like Airbnb
Singapore's outsourced data centre market generated S$1.3b in 2017: Study
'Software logic issue' behind Joo Koon collision: LTA's detailed report
Car-sharing operators face roadblock from ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber
Thales to set up new signalling simulation facility in Singapore
Singapore's stance on Net neutrality remains unchanged despite US developments: IMDA

Thailand
+ Village internet scheme completed
BoI predicts 50% boost for robotics
Disruption to drive digital growth in 2018
Financial relief for digital TV on the cards
NBTC holds auction prices
BoI buzzes in pursuit of Thailand 4.0
US upgrades Thailand for improved IP protection

Vietnam
Digital banking needs framework
Vietnamese businesses exposed to more ransomware cyberattacks
Đà Nẵng calls for hi-tech farms
Cyber security more difficult by the day
Việt Nam’s e-commerce market booming
Industry 4.0 brings e-payment options to VN
Đà Nẵng software park recognised
New ‘safe’ USB created by engineers at Electronics Institute
​Automated fare collection launched at Hanoi, Saigon railway stations

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

China techs driving data center investment across Southeast Asia Nikkei Asian Review 15th Dec 2017
A string of new data centers across Southeast Asia has highlighted rising regional demand for digital services served by big tech names from China rather than the likes of Google and Amazon.com.  Alibaba Cloud, an arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, opened a data center in Malaysia in late October. Its first outside mainland China was built in Singapore in 2015, and there are 15 now spread through Australia, Japan, Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.  More are planned for India and Indonesia in 2018.

Cambodia

Kingdom’s startups stuck in the middle with no capital Phnom Penh Post 20th Dec 2017
Despite Cambodia having a vibrant startup scene with entrepreneurs launching ventures on a near daily basis, businesses trying to tap into financial resources for growth have difficulty accessing capital and are stuck in the unbankable “missing middle”, according to a recent study. According to a study by the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), a $200 million investment initiative that is researching potential investments in the region, a third of Cambodia’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have outgrown microfinancing options but remain too small to attract large investors. The study showed that while short-term capital loans are offered by banks to registered businesses, small businesses without assets are unable to secure funding and debt financing is largely nonexistent.

Local SMEs are urged to digitise payments Phnom Penh Post 20th Dec 2017
Cambodian businesses need to adapt and digitise their financial operations if they want to remain competitive regionally and around the world, industry insiders said yesterday. Over 200 small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) attended the first annual Tech Startup and SME Forum, hosted yesterday in Phnom Penh, which encouraged SMEs in the Kingdom to streamline online payments, promote their products and improve consumer experience. According to Tram Iv Tek, minister of posts and telecommunications, the adoption of technology by startups and entrepreneurs could mean the difference between success and failure in a competitive market.

Indonesia

Indonesian Central Bank Regulates Financial Technology Lexology 20th Dec 2017
Indonesia’s central bank has for the first time issued a regulation designed to deal with financial technology (“fintech”) in general. Bank Indonesia (“BI”) Regulation Number 19/12/PBI/2017 regarding the Provision of Financial Technology, dated November 30, 2017 (“Reg. 19/2017”), was made public by BI on December 7. The stated aim of Reg. 19/2017 is to regulate the implementation of fintech to foster innovation, ensure consumer protection, and manage risk in order to maintain monetary and financial system stability, and an efficient, safe and reliable payment system.

E-commerce firms to be registered: Ministry The Jakarta Post 19th Dec 2017
The government is preparing a government regulation (PP) that will require online shops and e-commerce businesses to register with the Trade Ministry. Trade Ministry director general of domestic trade Tjahya Widayanti said on Monday in Jakarta that the draft government regulation had been submitted to the State Secretariat, and hoped it would be issued by the end of the year.

Digital technology boosts brand value: Jokowi The Jakarta Post 18th Dec 2017
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said businesspeople are fortunate to have the assistance of digital technology to boost the brand value of their products.

BPS to start collecting e-commerce data in January The Jakarta Post 17th Dec 2017
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) plans to start gathering e-commerce data in January in order to gain a fuller understanding of the growth of the digital economy and to issue appropriate policies for the sector.  

Indonesia making progress in global ICT ranking The Jakarta Post 15th Dec 2017
Indonesia has made significant progress in information and communication technologies (ICT) development, with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) considering it among the 10 most dynamic countries in 2016, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said Friday.

Indonesia among Asia Pacific countries with slowest internet connection The Jakarta Post 15th Dec 2017
Indonesia is said to be one of the countries in Asia Pacific with the slowest internet connection, according to a report by Speedtest Global Index. The index, initiated by US-based internet testing and analysis company Ookla, compares internet speed data worldwide on a monthly basis.

Malaysia

Islamic Digital Economy aims to increase GDP contribution The Malaysian Reserve 21st Dec 2017
Malaysian Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) is developing the country’s first Islamic Digital Economy (IDE) framework which is aimed at increasing the gross domestic product (GDP) of the digital economy segment to 20% by 2020. MDEC VP of Growth Ecosystem Development Norhizam Abdul Kadir (picture) said the only way for the Islamic digital economy sector to move forward is through digital economy. “At present the current GDP contribution is 18.2% but hopefully this framework will help boost the numbers,” he said to reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

E-commerce penetration rate to reach 5% next year The Malaysian Reserve 21st Dec 2017
Malaysia’s e-commerce penetration rate is is expected to reach about 5% of the total retail market in 2018, said online store 11street. “Once the right infrastructure is in place, we expect to see Malaysia accelerating its e-commerce penetration, with a rate of anywhere between 4% and 5% in 2018 — a figure that doubles that in 2015,” 11street CEO Hoseok Kim (picture) said in a statement yesterday. “The e-commerce industry in Malaysia has done well, in which we see a penetration rate of 2.5%, and given the broadened acceptance of e-commerce, the time has come for e-marketplaces to make online shopping a better and more seamless experience for consumers.

Malaysia to introduce first Islamic Digital Framework NST Online 20th Dec 2017
Malaysia will be introducing its first Islamic Digital Economy (IDE) framework to claim the leadership role in the global halal marketplace. Through the IDE, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) and Hall Amanie Sdn Bhd will be collaborating to create a unique and competitive advantage to accelerate the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy. The comprehensive and holistic IDE framework is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2018 and will cover areas such as halal and syariah compliance, funding and financing, Islamic digital economy regulation as well as the halal and shariah business operation frameworks.

Bricks-and-mortar local retailers turn to Internet to sell more The Malaysian Reserve 18th Dec 2017
Traditional retailers in Malaysia now embracing this modern technology as an alternative distribution channel to their customers. Encouraged by the recent success of “11.11 — Single’s Day” as well as the “12.12” bash, Malaysian retailers are now joining the bandwagon and investing in the digital space. Adhering to corresponding trajectories of other leading-edge countries such as the US and the UK, local retailers today are beginning to pick up some of the innovative e-commerce traits they’ve learned by elevating their game and importing effective e-commerce business practices from abroad, right down to handling basic barriers to online sales such as shipping costs, returns and digital payments, and also improving upon the overall “online shopping” experience.

Will new laws stop the Uber and Grab boom? The Malaysian Reserve 18th Dec 2017
Nine out of 10 cars that pick up passengers at a corporate building in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur (KL), are ride-hailing services. At most shopping complexes, the trends are the same. Locals and foreigners are opting for the app-fetching car services. These self-made “taxi services” are reliable. Passengers do not haggle for the price. Expensive trips, like to the KL International Airport, are also more bearable. Even a short trip is entertained.

Cryptocurrency remains exposed to digital threat The Malaysian Reserve 15th Dec 2017
When bitcoin was first traded eight years ago, one of the risks for the decentralised blockchain technology was security digital threat, namely malware attack and hacking activities. In 2014 alone, 850,000 bitcoins worth US$450 million (RM1.8 billion), belonged to the then largest cryptocurrency exchange Mt Gox, were hacked and gone missing. Last week, another exchange, Slovenia-based NiceHash, was attacked with 4,736 bitcoins worth US$64 million were stolen. These events revealed how security risks still remain a major concern in the new investment and trading platform. National ICT Association of Malaysia research committee chairman Woon Tai Hai said the cryptocurrency-mining malware can impair computer system performance and risk the end users to information theft, hijacking and other malware attacks.

Digital currencies not legal tender: Bank Negara NST Online 14th Dec 2017
Bank Negara Malaysia has issued a stern warning that digital currencies are not legal tender in the country. The central bank said financial institutions are also not providing arrangements for digital currency businesses. It advised the public to carefully evaluate the risks associated with dealings in digital currencies.

Philippines

Dev't Academy of the Philippines chief fired over foreign trips philstar.com 21st Dec 2017
For her alleged fondness for foreign travels, another public official has been fired. President Duterte has ordered Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) president Elba Cruz to leave her post, days after employees of the educational institution accused her of mismanagement and frequent travels abroad.  “Considering that your term of office expired on 30 June 2017 and that you have been serving in the DAP Board in a holdover capacity, we now wish to inform you that, upon instructions of the President, your service in such holdover status is hereby discontinued effective immediately,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a letter to Cruz dated Dec. 18. 

Privacy agency begins data protection drive for LGUs The Manila Times 20th Dec 2017
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has launched a nationwide campaign to assist local government units (LGUs) in complying and reaping the benefits of the Data Privacy Act of 2012. Speaking to local government executives and representatives from Region 11 (Davao Region) at the LGU Data Protection Officers’ (DPOs) Assembly at Marco Polo Davao hotel in Davao City last week, Privacy Commissioner and Chairman Raymund Enriquez Liboro underscored the importance of systematic compliance. He said it would foster greater trust in the way local governments work among businesses, executives and the general public.

Duterte wants China telco up and running in 90 days The Manila Times 20th Dec 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government regulatory agencies to speed up the entry of China Telecom, saying the Chinese firm should be operating in 90 days or less. “I have instructed the DICT and the NTC to fast-track the entry of the third telecom player to foster competition in the market. I want this implemented during the first quarter of 2018,” Duterte said, referring to the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission.

New govt body aims to build public trust on ‘digital economy’ The Manila Times 20th Dec 2017
The National Privacy Commission has assured the public that the Philippines has the “strictest” law in the world when it comes to personal data protection, amid concerns over proposals to implement a national identification (ID) system. Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro on Tuesday said the agency was formed in March 2016 to implement the Data Privacy Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10173. “It’s a 21st-century law for 21st-century concerns and challenges,” Liboro said during a roundtable discussion with The Manila Times editors and reporters.

Online trading platform to boost business growth The Manila Times 18th Dec 2017
The Philippines should prepare local exporters to participate in an online trading platform to help their businesses grow as they work together to achieve an export target of between $122 billion and $131 billion by 2022, a Trade official said. Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen Perlada is encouraging exporters to innovate more and collaborate with the government in seizing opportunities and dealing with the challenges posed by the digital economy. “How are they going to participate in a so-called electronic world trade platform where SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will be able to actually trade between and among themselves? It’s going to be a consumer-to-consumer platform,” Perlada said.

Only Chinese telco welcome – Palace The Manila Times 14th Dec 2017
The Duterte administration will not open its doors to foreign telecommunications companies unless they are from China. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. made the statement even after criticism that President Rodrigo Duterte was favoring Beijing. “It was a political decision of the President to offer it to a Chinese company,” Roque told reporters.

Singapore

Police warn of fake DBS Bank and SIA websites phishing for personal details TODAYonline 20th Dec 2017
Several victims have reported being cheated into providing personal information and credit card details on phishing websites purporting to be DBS Bank or Singapore Airlines (SIA), the Police said in a press release on Wednesday (Dec 20). According to the Police, the victims only realised the websites were fake and they had been scammed when they realised unauthorised transactions made in foreign currencies were charged to their credit cards. Phishing websites are websites that attempt to steal an individual’s account password or other confidential information by making the user believe that it is a legitimate website.

MAS urges cryptocurrency investors to act with ‘extreme caution’ TODAYonline 19th Dec 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has warned the public against investing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, as it expresses concerns that people may be tempted to plough in their money due to the recent escalation in prices. In a press release issued on Tuesday (Dec 19), the central bank advised individuals to "act with extreme caution and understand the significant risks they take on if they choose to invest in cryptocurrencies". "MAS considers the recent surge in the prices of cryptocurrencies to be driven by speculation. The risk of a sharp reduction in prices is high. Investors in cryptocurrencies should be aware that they run the risk of losing all their capital," it added.

Singapore to seek public views on short-term home rentals like Airbnb TODAYonline 18th Dec 2017
The Singapore government, which has charged two men with unauthorised short-term letting of apartments, said on Friday (Dec 8) it plans to seek public feedback soon on a regulatory framework for allowing such accommodation. The move comes as strict rules on short-term property rentals in the city-state, a keen early adopter of the sharing economy, have invited some complaints, as it seeks a balance between encouraging new disruptive industries and keeping them in line. While there's a place for short-term letting, the government will review and consider safeguards to ensure it does not negatively affect the "amenity" of residential estates, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said. A coming public consultation will seek feedback on a framework for allowing short-term accommodation in private homes, the URA said in response to Reuters' questions. This week, Singapore charged two men with unauthorised short-term letting of four apartments, its first such prosecution.

Singapore's outsourced data centre market generated S$1.3b in 2017: Study Channel NewsAsia 18th Dec 2017
The local colocated, or outsourced, data centre market generated an estimated US$934 million (S$1.3 billion) this year, according to a recent study released by Structure Research. The Canada-based research firm said in its study that this figure is projected to grow 13 per cent in 2018, and the market will grow at 12 per cent compound annual growth rate to hit US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) by 2021. There are 46 colocation providers in Singapore, including providers with their own colocation data centres as well as sizeable resellers, and together they sell colocation space in 58 operational data centres here today, it added. 

'Software logic issue' behind Joo Koon collision: LTA's detailed report TODAYonline 18th Dec 2017
On 15 November 2017, Train 3535/3536 was launched into service at about 5.38am from Ulu Pandan Depot (UPD) heading east on the East-West Line (EWL) towards Pasir Ris MRT station. It was operating on the legacy signalling system with the new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling system operating in the background in passive mode. When launched for passenger service, Train 3535/3536’s train-borne CBTC signalling equipment developed an abnormal condition which prevented it from communicating with the trackside CBTC signalling system.

Car-sharing operators face roadblock from ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber TODAYonline 17th Dec 2017
Polytechnic librarian David Yeo, 52, gave up his car 14 years ago and takes public transport to work. But once a month, he rents a car from Car Club, of which he has been a member for nearly a decade, for family outings to parks and other places. While happy with the flexibility a shared car brings, he now has access to more convenient alternatives, such as Grab and Uber. To collect his shared car, the Geylang East resident has to take a train from Aljunied to Kallang, where the nearest car-sharing station is located.

Thales to set up new signalling simulation facility in Singapore TODAYonline 17th Dec 2017
Signalling system provider Thales will set up a simulation facility here by the end of next year to perform additional simulation tests for the rail network here, following the train collision at Joo Koon MRT station on Nov 15. The facility, which will open in two phases, will strengthen testing processes for the new signalling system on the North-South and East-West Lines, by enhancing the authorities' ability to test solutions for communications-based train control (CBTC) "in a controlled setting without affecting train services", a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesperson said. "This new facility will allow us to perform additional simulation tests which are tailored to the environmental and infrastructural conditions of the rail network in Singapore," the spokesperson said. As of January 1, 2018, the Council will assume operations of the US ICT Council for Myanmar, an existing association of eight U.S. technology companies. The ICT Council, which is currently seeking to identify a full-time Executive Director, will conduct advocacy, organize workshops, and generally support member companies in building a forward-looking ICT regulatory environment in Myanmar. Please contact Matt Solomon at msolomon@uasean.org with any questions.

Singapore's stance on Net neutrality remains unchanged despite US developments: IMDA The Straits Times 15th Dec 2017
The country's position on Net neutrality - which ensures that all content providers on the Web are treated equally by Internet service providers (ISPs) - remains unchanged despite recent developments in the United States. The Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA), which regulates Internet policy here, told The Straits Times on Friday (Dec 15) that there are no plans to revise its take on the matter even as regulators in the US voted on Thursday to repeal Net neutrality rules which were implemented in 2015.

Thailand
Village internet scheme completed Bangkok Post 22nd Dec 2017
State enterprise TOT has finished construction of the national broadband network for 24,700 villages nationwide (the Pracha Rat internet project), two weeks ahead of the deadline set by the government. The government plans to officially kick off the second phase of the project with community e-commerce ecosystems across the country in early 2018, serving the Thailand 4.0 policy to complement the broadband backbone. President Monchai Noosong said TOT began installing the national broadband network in April through eight private companies that bid to supply fibre-optic cable and equipment.

BoI predicts 50% boost for robotics Bangkok Post 21st Dec 2017
With full government support, private investment value in robotics and automation is expected to grow by 50% next year, compared with 11.4 billion baht of investment value from 48 projects that submitted applications this year to the Board of Investment (BoI), says secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit. She said more Thai and foreign companies are submitting applications for BoI incentives and are likely to start real investment in the sector soon. Investment value in the robotics and automation sectors reached 12 billion baht from only eight projects during the government's initial promotion of robotics and automation systems in 2011, said Ms Duangjai.

Disruption to drive digital growth in 2018 Bangkok Post 20th Dec 2017
The arrival of disruptive technology is expected to help boost the value of the digital economy, forecast to account for 19.4% of Thailand's GDP next year, according to the latest University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) survey. But the rise of disruptive technology is also expected to bring about large societal and economic changes, endangering some professions and putting others out of business, the survey said. Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research, said the study had resulted in over a dozen sunrise careers that will be in strong demand next year, while another ten on the sunset end of the spectrum will be forced to adapt to the fast-changing world.

Financial relief for digital TV on the cards Bangkok Post 20th Dec 2017
The government has agreed in principle to help relieve the financial burdens of terrestrial digital TV operators and the two winners of the 4G licence auction for the 900-megahertz spectrum from 2015. The state believes special measures are needed to ease broadcasters' difficulties before the planned auction of 5G licences in 2018, according to a source close to policymakers. Official measures will come through invocation of Section 44 by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, maybe as early as next month.

NBTC holds auction prices Bangkok Post 19th Dec 2017
The telecom regulator insisted yesterday it would not amend the reserve price of its draft auction of the 1800- and 850-megahertz spectrum slated for auction next year. At a major public hearing, Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the auction's design is based on the 2015 auction of 4G licences, especially the reserve prices, and are meant to promote fair competition. The 1800- and 850MHz spectrum ranges are now operated by Total Access Communication (DTAC) under concessions of state-owned enterprise CAT Telecom, which will expire on Sept 30 next year.

BoI buzzes in pursuit of Thailand 4.0 Bangkok Post 18th Dec 2017
The government's Thailand 4.0 scheme -- meant to usher in the country into more value-added, innovative and creative sectors -- has made the Board of Investment (BoI) one of the busiest state agencies as it reworks its processes and structures to promote technological changes. One of the novelties is the establishment of the five new BoI divisions: bio and medical industries; advanced manufacturing; basic and support industries; high-value services; and creative and digital industries. These divisions are expected to handle the new generation of S-curve industries and those slated for the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor.

US upgrades Thailand for improved IP protection Bangkok Post 16th Dec 2017
The United States has removed Thailand from its Priority Watch List of intellectual property (IP) violators in recognition of the country's efforts to improve IP protection and enforcement. After 10 years in the company of a dozen countries deemed to have the world's worst IP protection, the country has been upgraded to the Watch List. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made the announcement on Friday following a so-called Special 301 review. It refers to Section 301 of the US Trade Act, under which countries that fail to combat IP violations cound face trade sanctions.

Vietnam

Digital banking needs framework Viet Nam News 20th Dec 2017
Việt Nam needs a legal framework for the development of digital banking, heard a conference held by the State Bank of Việt Nam in Hà Nội on Tuesday. Deputy Governor of the central bank Nguyễn Kim Anh said the rapid development of information and technology, especially the fourth industrial revolution, was bringing opportunities for digital banking. The digitalisation of banking services would help the sector improve convenience in providing financial services, Kim Anh said, adding that digital banking had potential to become a core business of banks in Việt Nam.

Vietnamese businesses exposed to more ransomware cyberattacks News VietNamNet 18th Dec 2017
Experts say ransomware continues attacking businesses, and that cryptocurrency mining malware has appeared on websites in Vietnam, while spyware is attacking Android smartphones. According to Kaspersky Vietnam, 26.2 percent of victims targeted by ransomware in 2017 are businesses, compared to 22.6 percent in 2016.  2017 will be recorded as a year of ransomware, with a high number of attacks aimed at businesses.

Đà Nẵng calls for hi-tech farms Viet Nam News 18th Dec 2017
The central city of Đà Nẵng has called for VNĐ1.5 trillion (US$66.3 million) investment in five high-tech farms to create a centre for hi-tech-farming in the central and central highlands region. The farms, part of the city’s hi-tech farm master plan, will include livestock farms and a processing zone, mushroom, organic and safe-vegetable farms, herb gardens, a fishing port and fish trading centre on 144ha in three communes - Hoà Vang, Ngũ Hành Sơn and Sơn Trà. The city has offered favourable conditions and support for investors, including slashing the land-clearance fee by 50 per cent to VNĐ20 million ($884) per hectare per year for five years.

Cyber security more difficult by the day Viet Nam News 16th Dec 2017
Cyber security will be difficult to maintain next year as hackers use smarter and more sophisticated technology to make attacks, Nguyễn Thành Hưng, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, said this week. This was revealed at the second regional forum on cyber security held by Việt Nam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT), the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Korea Internet and Security Agency. At the forum, participants discussed regional and global issues on strategies, policies and laws to achieve security by sharing mechanisms for reliable information and effective ways of managing operations.

Việt Nam’s e-commerce market booming Viet Nam News 16th Dec 2017
Việt Nam is one of the world’s fastest growing e-commerce countries, Lại Việt Anh, deputy director of Việt Nam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (Vecita) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said. “The country’s e-commerce market is growing 35 per cent per year, 2.5 times faster than Japan,” Anh said. Vietnamese businesses capable of taking advantage of the internet and technology grow 2.1 times faster than others.

Industry 4.0 brings e-payment options to VN Viet Nam News 14th Dec 2017
The trend of non-cash payments and digitalisation in personal banking and the explosion of fintech firms in Việt Nam have placed banks ahead of many opportunities and challenges in fourth industrial revolution. Speaking to the media, Dr. Cấn Văn Lực, a financial expert, said that in the long term, co-operation between fintech companies and the commercial banking system needs to be tightened, VietnamPlus reports.

Đà Nẵng software park recognised Viet Nam News 14th Dec 2017
Đà Nẵng’s software park has been recognised as a centralised information technology centre – the third of its kind after two in Hà Nội and HCM City – following Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s decision on December 7. At the announcement ceremony on Wednesday, director of the city’s information and technology, Trần Quang Thanh, said the 10,000sq.m park comprising of two buildings in the city’s downtown is home to 75 IT businesses including 22 foreign companies. It has attracted nearly VNĐ1.8 trillion (US$80 million) in investment and employs 2,400 people.

New ‘safe’ USB created by engineers at Electronics Institute News VietNamNet 14th Dec 2017
After six years of research and development, VS-KEY USB developed by a group of engineers from the Electronics Institute under the Ministry of National Defense has been launched.  USB, or Universal Serial Bus, is an effective tool to store and copy data. However, the weak point of USB is that it could be a tool to spread malware, threatening the data security of the USB and computers which use USBs. A report from BKAV Corporation, an anti-virus solution provider, says the number of computers infected with viruses in Vietnam in the third quarter of 2017 was 15 million. USBs are the major way viruses spread, accounting for more than 50 percent.

​Automated fare collection launched at Hanoi, Saigon railway stations Tuoi Tre News 15th Dec 2017
Vietnam Railway, the operator of the north-to-south rail link, has put to use automated fare collection systems at its Hanoi and Saigon stations in an attempt to improve passengers’ experience and security. In Hanoi, ten automated barrier gates have been installed, while the Saigon Railway Station in Ho Chi Minh City got five. The gates operate by scanning a QR code printed on a passenger’s ticket or sent to their smartphone to confirm the ticket’s validity before opening up to let the ticketholder through. An integrated LED and audio response system will let the passenger know if their ticket is invalid, upon which they can seek help from station attendants nearby.