ICT Update: December 19, 2018

ICT Update | December 19, 2018
Authors: Ella Duangkaew and Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

December 20, 2018: Business Roundtable with Indonesia DG of Informatics Application, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan (Sammy) on GR 82 Draft Revision. Click here to register for sponsorship, and click here to register to attend this event. 

January 23, 2019: ICT Committee Quarterly Call: During the call we will review the 2019 Work Plan and discuss the Committee's priorities and upcoming opportunities for the year. If you have any questions, would like to suggest an item to be discussed on the call, or have any input for the 2019 Work Plan, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org. Click here to register for the call.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Indonesia Issues Fundamental Technical Plan for National Telecommunications

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Informatics (KOMINFO) has issued Regulation Number 14 of 2018 (Regulation 14/2018), which outlines a plan for network development planning for all telecommunications organizers. The regulation has provisions relating to 11 areas:

  1. Allocations of numbering blocks to telecommunications providers
  2. Network interconnectivity planning
  3. Imposition of service fees
  4. Routing planning
  5. Signaling connectivity planning
  6. Switching
  7. Network synchronization
  8. Service quality
  9. Network management systems
  10. Customer access and security
  11. Telecommunications organization

The regulation is intended to achieve the Ministry’s objectives for connectivity and coverage within a market with four major players and high competition. According to the Indonesia Law Briefing (ILB), the regulation requires new players to find their own number allocations and accommodate existing services in the market. All providers must ensure interconnectivity between mobile cellular and satellite networks, fixed-line long-distance and international networks and circuit-switched-based local networks, confirmed by partnership agreements with details also laid out in the Regulation. Providers are required to allocate central gates to achieve certain functions and plan for two types of physical connectivity: Type 1 for the purpose of seamless national connections and Type 2 for the purpose of improving efficiency. The regulation also sets forth criteria for how service fees must be formulated, and defines two types of charging plans: Periodic Pulse Multi-Metering (PPM) and Automatic Message Accounting (AMA).

Indonesia’s connectivity is critical to its economic growth, particularly as an island nation, and the competitive market warrants a roadmap, especially for potential new entrants. This is the intention of Regulation 14/2018, which has been in enforcement since October 2018. Increasing levels of smartphone and Internet penetration will be important for achieving continued e-commerce growth, which has been projected to reach up to US$ 55-65 billion by 2020, according to McKinsey. Connectivity infrastructure must continue to develop despite the challenges Indonesia’s geography presents in developing fixed broadband infrastructure. These efforts to improve connectivity in Regulation 14/2018 follow a statement in 2017 by KOMINFO Minister Rudiantara, where he set a goal of having broadband access in all capitals of districts and regencies by 2019.

After Contract Dispute Before House Panel, Philippines Third Telco Moves Forward

The Philippines House Committee on Legal Franchises approved the sale of the controlling interest of Mislatel to the consortium set to become the Philippines third telco player following a suspension of the sale due to a contract dispute. The consortium is composed of Mislatel, Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics Holding Company and China Telecom.

The contract dispute was brought forward by DigiPhil, which was disqualified from the bidding process. The winning consortium gained its qualification to bid for the third telco slot through Mislatel’s congressional franchise. DigiPhil is part of Sear Telecom, a Chavit Singon-TierOne Communications consortium, and Sear Telecom argued that it had an exclusive contract with Mislatel, according to Rappler. This exclusive contract would mean that Mislatel would not be able to sell and transfer its controlling interest to become a part of the consortium of China Telecom, Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics. According to PhilStar, the House Committee approved the sale of Mislatel’s controlling interest because the DigiPhil is not within the Committee’s jurisdiction. Next, Mislatel will undergo a 90-day post-evaluation before 3G, 4G and potential 5G frequencies will be granted.

Bringing in a third telco player is intended to improve and lower the cost of telecommunications services in the Philippines, which currently has some of the highest priced rates in the world. Mislatel, after winning the bid, proposed to increase the average internet speed and increase coverage to 84% of the population in five years. For more information on the announcement of the third telco player, see our previous Analytical Update here.

Thailand’s New Revenue Code Amendment to Require E-Payments Disclosures

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has passed a Revenue Code Amendment aimed at reducing fraud, investigating tax obligations and effectively capturing tax from e-commerce businesses. The new tax policy will take effect January 1, 2020, according to the Bangkok Post. Under the new amendment, any financial institution must disclose information to the Revenue Department for customer accounts with over 3000 deposits and money transfers annually of any annual amount, or accounts with more than 400 deposits and money transfers totaling over 2 million THB (roughly US$61,087) annually.

The Revenue Department has developed the amendment to better capture taxes on e-payments, as it previously lacked the necessary information to do so. The Revenue Department currently reports data showing that only 65% of juristic enterprises file tax returns, and that a large number of self-employed individuals do not pay taxes. Deputy Minister of Finance Wisudhi Sripuphan said the Revenue Code amendment is intended to create more sustainable tax collection, and is not solely intended to target online traders. The Deputy Minister also noted that 2.4 million people are not in the tax system.

E-payments organizations in Thailand have expressed concern that the new tax policy could prevent widespread adoption of e-commerce payments and discourage the beneficial transition towards a more cashless society. Merchants who previously only needed to report a summary will now be required to disclose more detailed information to the Revenue Department, which will introduce additional burden. Thus, to avoid this disclosure burden, smaller merchants may prefer to use cash instead of e-payments. This reporting burden also drew comments from within the NLA, with some members stating that their own accounts would require reporting of transactions from meeting allowances and donations to Buddhist temples.

Although the Revenue Code amendment is intended to ensure fair competition and create more convenient and effective tax collection, its effect on e-commerce and e-payments may affect Thailand’s vision to become a cashless society. Thailand has emphasized the benefits of e-payments and has prioritized its goal of becoming a cashless society in its National e-Payments Master Plan and through its PromptPay e-payments system established through public-private partnership. PromptPay services began in 2017 and the service currently has 42.6 million registrants. According to the Bangkok Post, the Bank of Thailand reported 375 trillion THB (about US$ 11.4 trillion) in online transactions in June 2018, which was an increase from 250 trillion THB (US$7.6 trillion) in June 2017. Given the existing and projected benefits of e-Payments, it will be critical for the Revenue Department to develop regulation that will enable easy and increased use of e-Payments, and remove provisions that would introduce any kind of burden in the process.

Innovation-enabling and flexible legislation is crucial to the realization of the country’s goals under Thailand 4.0, which will become amplified as Thailand takes on the 2019 ASEAN Chairmanship with digital innovation as a key theme. This legislation closely follows the development of other digital economy related regulations, such as the Personal Data Protection Bill and the Cybersecurity Bill. The Ministry of Digital Economy aims to pass both regulations by the end of the year, prior to elections. Upon passage, it will be critical for these regulations to be transparent and in line with international best practices, especially to position Thailand as a leader in digital economy development, in line with its ASEAN Chairmanship themes to advance digital prosperity and innovation.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

2018 TELMIN Business Mission

From December 4-6, the US-ASEAN Business Council led a delegation of 13 U.S. companies on its Business Mission to the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN). The Mission’s plenary engagements included a presentation during the TELSOM+US Consultation, and a working luncheon with the TELMIN and TELSOM Leaders. This 2-hour luncheon was the longest slot given to any private sector group on the formal agenda of the TELMIN, and included presentations by Naveen Menon, the Council’s ICT Committee Chair and President for ASEAN of Cisco Systems, and Ralph Haupter, President of Microsoft Asia and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Corporation. Every TELMIN and TELSOM leader was in attendance, in addition to the Secretary Generals of ASEAN and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). In addition to these plenary events, delegates also engaged the Ministers bilaterally to discuss mutual integration and investment interests. The Council held nine bilateral meetings in total with government officials from the United States, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar. Delegates also attended the TELSOM Welcome Dinner, the TELMIN Gala Dinner and Annual ASEAN ICT Awards Ceremony.

During the TELSOM+US Consultation and the plenary luncheon, the delegation tabled three initiatives for 2019 (as part of the 2019 ASEAN-US ICT Work Plan):

  • A Joint AEM-TELMIN Ministers' Roadshow to the U.S.
  • Continuation of the ASEAN-US Digital Policy Consultative Forum, to be held alongside the 2019 TELSOM Meetings
  • Supporting ASEAN's formalization of a regular OTT Dialogue, and formalizing private sector participation in the dialogue

The Council’s presentation to the TELSOM+US Consultation detailing these initiatives is attached, as well as the agenda for the working luncheon. The Council’s proposals were welcomed and approved by the TELMIN and TELSOM leaders at the meetings. The Council will look to follow up on these proposals and execute these initiatives in 2019. Please contact Shay Wester (swester@usasean.org) and Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) if you are interested in participating in any of these initiatives, or have any questions.

Thailand Draft Cybersecurity Bill

On December 14, the Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society released its latest revision on the Draft Cybersecurity Bill, following a public hearing period that ended in October (found here in Thai). The Council is developing an industry letter on this latest draft Bill, and is urgently seeking member comments. Please submit all final comments to Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) on the industry letter by EOD December 20 SGT. Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) with any questions, or for a copy of the letter.

Malaysia National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP)

Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has drafted a national fiberisation and connectivity plan (NFCP) to enhance the country's broadband infrastructure. The NFCP aims to improve broadband quality and coverage by enabling affordability and availability of internet access for all and expanding fiber networks. The NFCP is meant to be implemented over the next five years (until 2023). Click here to review the draft National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan.

The Council is urgently seeking your final feedback and revisions on a draft industry letter on the NFCP. Please provide your feedback on the Council's final draft industry letter to Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org by COB Thursday, December 20. Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) with any questions, or for a copy of the letter.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
The Digital Transformation of Infrastructure

Brunei
Gamified tourism app Get Up wins first Brunei Hacks
Call for close coordination in cybersecurity

Cambodia
Vietnam, Cambodia boost information safety cooperation
Telcos contribute $9 million to USO fund
‘The time for digitalisation is now,’ experts tell local firms
Official warns of cyber attacks
Police in Poipet raid online gambling operation

Indonesia
Government builds high-speed internet to support MSMES
National Online Shopping Day Targets Rp 7t in Transactions
Cyberattacks increase ahead of presidential elections
Indonesia can boost exports using China digital platforms: Ambassador
Indonesia’s e-commerce sales set to hit $65 bn in 2022
Government Blocks Illegal FinTech Websites & Apps in Indonesia | Indonesia Investments
Indonesia to study China’s offer on 5G technology development

Laos
Electronic signature law will boost E-commerce, govt tells NA
Costs of Cable: Laos Ranks Low, Has High-Price Broadband Connections

Malaysia
Cyberjaya to be revived as a tech hub
Extend fiberisation to other infrastructure, govt urged
East M’sia’s mobile internet usage highest in the country
e-commerce platforms need to strengthen DNS security

Myanmar
Telenor completes NB-IoT trials in Myanmar

Philippines
3rd telco faces franchise trouble before House panel
DICT targets 500k digital workers
PHL ranking in B2C E-commerce index jumps four notches in 2018
PHL still ranked 10th in white paper on digital transformation
House OKs bill penalizing e-violence vs. women

Singapore
Top 25 tech stocks hit average returns of 5.7% in December
Singapore defends crown in Asian Digital Transformation index
Faster patent for fintech firms in Singapore

Thailand
MDES: 18th TELMIN approves Thailand’s proposal related to cyber security
DIP: Over 10,000 SMEs targeted for online operations in 2019
DEPA offers tax deduction up to 200% for software purchases by SMEs
Thailand’s cyber security proposal approved
E-payment tax to take effect in 2020
Internet economy continues strong gains
E-commerce players up in arms over tax
700MHz auction postponed from February to 3rd quarter

Vietnam
E-passports for Vietnamese citizens expected by 2020: public security ministry
Hospitals going digital
Vietnam, Russia step up cooperation in e-government building
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

The Digital Transformation of Infrastructure Reuters 14th Dec 2018
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing regions, and its cities are at the heart of this growth. Yet while urbanisation is fuelling progress, rapid expansion can strain a city’s infrastructure.  Despite containing one-third of its population, the region’s cities drive more than two-thirds of its economic growth.(1) As their metropolitan society develops greater digital literacy and smartphone penetration, "smarter" solutions are necessary to coping with the rapid growth and urban demands of its residents. “Smart cities are where infrastructure and technology come together,” says Sharad Somani, Partner & Head, Infrastructure Advisory at KPMG. “It’s about how to make infrastructure smarter so that it adapts to the needs of the citizens in a fashion that enhances their quality of life.” 

Brunei

Gamified tourism app Get Up wins first Brunei Hacks Biz Brunei 9th Dec 2018
Get Up are looking to build a gamified tourism mobile application that will reward users as they discover and visit new places in Brunei, after emerging as the winners of the first Brunei Hacks over the weekend at Progresif’s HQ in Gadong.

Call for close coordination in cybersecurity Borneo Bulletin Online 8th Dec 2018
Minister of Communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof recently shared views for a more focussed approach on cybersecurity, highlighting the importance of close coordination among ASEAN Member States (AMS) during an exchange of views among ASEAN ministers at the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting (ASEAN TELMIN) and other related meetings at Ubud, Bali, in the Republic of Indonesia on December 5-6.

Cambodia

Vietnam, Cambodia boost information safety cooperation Nhan Dan Online 17th Dec 2018
A conference on social networks and information safety took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of the information and communications collaboration framework between Vietnam and Cambodia. Co-organised by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Cambodia’s Ministry of Information and Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, the conference drew the attendance of relevant agencies from both sides.

Telcos contribute $9 million to USO fund Khmer Times 14th Dec 2018
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) yesterday said telecommunications companies contributed $9 million to the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund established for the Telecommunications and ICT sector last year. The government used the fund to strengthen communication connectivity with the construction of 41 new stations throughout the country, said a report from the MPTC.

‘The time for digitalisation is now,’ experts tell local firms Khmer Times 13th Dec 2018
With the government aiming to turn Cambodia into a predominantly digital economy by 2023, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) must strive to digitalise processes and integrate the latest technologies into their day-to-day operations in order to remain competitive, business insiders say. In its latest report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) shed light on the importance of adopting advanced technologies to support SME productivity and growth.

Official warns of cyber attacks Khmer Times 12th Dec 2018
An Information Ministry official has warned that the development of new technologies can also have a negative effect on a nation. Huy Saravuth, secretary of state with the Information Ministry, yesterday during a Cambodia-Vietnam cyber security forum in Phnom Penh said hacking and the spread of fake news can impact reputation, the economy, national defence and diplomatic relations.

Police in Poipet raid online gambling operation Khmer Times 12th Dec 2018
Police in Banteay Meanchey on Tuesday arrested 55 foreign nationals over their alleged involvement in running an illegal online gambling operation in Poipet city. Major Sok Bora, deputy chief of Poipet city police, yesterday said 47 suspects were Malaysian nationals, while eight were Chinese nationals.

Indonesia

Government builds high-speed internet to support MSMES Antara News 12th Dec 2018
The government has succeeded in building high-speed internet infrastructure throughout Indonesia to support Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Communications and informatics Minister Rudiantara said that the development of high-speed internet throughout Indonesia has made e-commerce in the country more trusted as it was safe and comfortable for a number of transactions.

National Online Shopping Day Targets Rp 7t in Transactions Jakarta Globe 12th Dec 2018
Hundreds of e-commerce platforms are participating in the seventh annual National Online Shopping Day, better known as Harbolnas, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week by offering numerous discounts to increase brand awareness among customers.

Cyberattacks increase ahead of presidential elections Antara News 12th Dec 2018
Cyberattacks have increased lately, ahead of the simultaneous legislative and presidential elections to be held in April next year, according to the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN). "From January to October 2018, BSSN had detected 207.9 million trojan attacks and 36 million malware activities, mostly targeting domains of ac.id, co.id, and go.id," Djoko Setiadi, the chairman of BSSN, remarked while speaking before participants of a seminar on dissemination of information on cyber threats in 2018, here, Wednesday.

Indonesia can boost exports using China digital platforms: Ambassador Antara News 11th Dec 2018
Indonesia could use China`s digital commerce platforms to boost its exports not only to China but also to other countries, Indonesian ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun said here on Monday. "If we want to boost exports, investment and tourism we have to have good relations with China as our main partner. China has an advanced IT and e-commerce," Djauhari said when receiving delegation of China-Indonesia discussion on China-ASEAN relations.

Indonesia’s e-commerce sales set to hit $65 bn in 2022 The Nation 10th Dec 2018
Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has forecast fast growth for e-commerce in Indonesia, predicting sales to reach US$65 billion (Bt2.13 trillion) annually by 2022, eight times the $8 billion recorded in 2017. “Our research suggests some 30 per cent of online commerce – sales worth $2.5 billion in 2017 – is additional spending that would not have existed if not for online commerce,” said Simon Wintels, a partner of McKinsey.

Government Blocks Illegal FinTech Websites & Apps in Indonesia | Indonesia Investments Indonesia Investments 10th Dec 2018
Kuseryansyah, the Executive Chairman of the Indonesian Financial Technology Association (Aftech), expects five fintech sectors in Indonesia to experience significant growth in the next five years amid rapidly rising smartphone and Internet penetration in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. These five fintech sectors are: (1) Online payment (2) Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending (3) Insurance technology (insurtech) (4) Crowdfunding (5) Price aggregators

Indonesia to study China’s offer on 5G technology development The Jakarta Post 7th Dec 2018
Indonesia will study China’s offer to develop 5G technology in the archipelago, particularly the business model and ecosystem required in such an upgrade.

Laos

Electronic signature law will boost E-commerce, govt tells NA Vientiane Times 13th Dec 2018
The government has told the National Assembly (NA) that Laos needs to have an electronic signature law in place to boost E-commerce and facilitate E-governance. Presenting the drafted electronic signature law to the NA’s ongoing 6th ordinary session yesterday for debate, Minister of Post and Telecommunications Thansamay Kommasith said the law was essential.

Costs of Cable: Laos Ranks Low, Has High-Price Broadband Connections Laotian Times 10th Dec 2018
So while residents of Vientiane capital and other urban conurbations can (and do) expect to enjoy much cheaper deals, Laos’ overall countrywide ranking was hindered (as per usual) by persistent geographic and economic factors. These include its relatively sparse yet still significantly rural-dwelling population alongside persistent infrastructure, financial and skilled human resource deficits that are being addressed to varying levels of success.

Malaysia

Cyberjaya to be revived as a tech hub NST Online 14th Dec 2018
The government will rejuvenate Cyberjaya as the technological hub that it was intended to be, said the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development. Its minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said the main objective of Cyberjaya was forgotten as it had been marketed more as a real estate destination rather than a technological hub.

Extend fiberisation to other infrastructure, govt urged New Straits Times 12th Dec 2018
The National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) should be extended to other infrastructures in Malaysia, especially if the country aims to be 5G-ready, says edotco Group chief executive officer Suresh Sidhu.

East M’sia’s mobile internet usage highest in the country BorneoPost Online 9th Dec 2018
Mobile internet usage in Sarawak and Sabah are among the highest in the country, Maxis Bhd (Maxis) says, with data consumption having more than doubled last year in the East Malaysian region. “The demand for internet continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. It growing all over the country but the growth rate has been even higher in both Sabah and Sarawak.

e-commerce platforms need to strengthen DNS security BorneoPost Online 9th Dec 2018
Malaysia’s cyber landscape has evolved tremendously, with higher growth recorded in the e-commerce segment year-on-year. However, this sector also poses greater threat for consumers as personal and financial information are easily exposed to data leakage and theft.

Myanmar

Telenor completes NB-IoT trials in Myanmar Mobile World Live 12th Dec 2018
Telenor Myanmar worked with Ericsson to conduct NB-IoT trials on its LTE network in the city of Mandalay, claiming to be the first in the country to test IoT networks. The operator, the second largest in the country by subscribers, said the tests involved IoT applications including connected vehicles and ambient sensors.

Philippines

3rd telco faces franchise trouble before House panel Rappler 14th Dec 2018
Legal matters led the House committee on legislative franchises to suspend its deliberations on the transfer and sale of the controlling interest of Mindanao Islamic Telephone (Mislatel). The panel was set to approve the transfer on Monday, December 10, to the winning 3rd telco player consortium of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation, Chelsea Logistics, and China Telecom.

DICT targets 500k digital workers Manila Standard 14th Dec 2018
The Department of Information and Communications Technology targets to train some 500,000 unemployed Filipino workers from the provinces to make them globally-competitive digital workers by 2022. In an interview with the Philippine News Agency at the 51Talk press conference in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, DICT Industry Development Bureau head Yvette Cabrera said there was a need to develop the capacities of unemployed workers in the digital fields of software development, health, game animation, and contact centers.

PHL ranking in B2C E-commerce index jumps four notches in 2018 BusinessMirror 14th Dec 2018
The economy is becoming more open to supporting online shopping in the Philippines, according to the latest study from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). In the Unctad’s B2C (business to consumer) E-commerce Index 2018, the Philippines saw a four-notch increase in its ranking to 92nd from 96th, out of 151 economies.

PHL still ranked 10th in white paper on digital transformation BusinessMirror 12th Dec 2018
With more advanced technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence knocking at the Philippines’s door, the country’s digital transformation remains stagnant, according to a white paper released by the Economist Intelligence United (EIU). Based on the EIU’s 2018 Asian Digital Transformation Index, the Philippines retained its 10th ranking among the 11 countries included in the index with a score of 12.8. The country only bested Indonesia, which came in last with a score of 12.2.

House OKs bill penalizing e-violence vs. women CNN 11th Dec 2018
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure that criminalizes electronic violence, which involves the use of information and communication technology. The House unanimously voted in favor of House Bill 8655 or Expanded Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children (E-VAWC) Act, seeking to amend Republic Act No. 9262 or Anti-VAWC Act of 2004. The bill provides definitions of electronic VAWC, protective measures and penalties for violations of the law.

Singapore

Top 25 tech stocks hit average returns of 5.7% in December Singapore Business Review 14th Dec 2018
Venture's total returns was recorded at -25.3% in December YTD. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) revealed that the returns of the top 25 technology stocks saw average returns hit 5.7% in December YTD whilst median returns were recorded at -15.9%. Total returns of the said stocks in 2017 hit 87.3% and median returns recorded at 72.1%, data from SGX showed.

Singapore defends crown in Asian Digital Transformation index Singapore Business Review 14th Dec 2018
It clinched the top spot for the digital infrastructure and human capital measures. Singapore is still the king of Asian digital transformation as it remained on top for the second year of the study by the The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with its score of 78, sealing a 14.5 lead over its runner up, Japan. Meanwhile, Hong Kong clinched the third place with a score of 62.3. The Lion City clinched the top spot in the measures including digital infrastructure and human capital.

Faster patent for fintech firms in Singapore Channel NewsAsia 14th Dec 2018
Applying for a patent from the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore usually takes up to four years. But the agency is now hoping to speed things up with a new initiative which could shorten the waiting time to as little as six months.

Thailand

MDES: 18th TELMIN approves Thailand’s proposal related to cyber security National News Bureau of Thailand 14th Dec 2018
The Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society (MDES) has disclosed that the 18th ASEAN Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) recently approved Thailand’s proposal related to cyber security. Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkhaweroj, and MDES Permanent Secretary Atcharin Phatthanaphanchai attended the 18th TELMIN on December 5-6, 2018, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

DIP: Over 10,000 SMEs targeted for online operations in 2019 National News Bureau of Thailand 14th Dec 2018
The Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) wants over 10,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups to operate their businesses online in 2019. DIP Director General, Korpchai Sangsitthisawas, said the government has a policy to promote SMEs expansion overseas via e-commerce. The DIP's mission is to prepare a training program for human resources and provide the business know-how to support local SMEs and startups.

DEPA offers tax deduction up to 200% for software purchases by SMEs National News Bureau of Thailand 13th Dec 2018
The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) has devised a measure to promote software usage, offering tax deductions of up to 200 percent of the value of a computer program suited to business operations. DEPA Director Nuttaphol Nimmanpacharin said today that the agency is looking to benefit SMEs through the use of computer programs and technological tools in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy. Businesses that adopt inventory software, accounting software or retail software can use receipts from their purchases to receive a tax break up of to 200 percent of the value of the acquisition.

Thailand’s cyber security proposal approved Vietnam Plus 11th Dec 2018
The Thai Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society (MDES) has disclosed that the 18th ASEAN Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) recently approved Thailand’s proposal related to cyber security.

Asean cities to ‘get smart’ Borneo Bulletin Online 9th Dec 2018
Thailand to lead smart-city project, with Bangkok, Phuket and Chon Buri featuring prominently in cross-border partnership. Thailand will play a leading role in implementing the smart-city network covering 26 cities in the 10 Asean member countries as the Kingdom takes over as the bloc’s chair next year, Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said this week.

E-payment tax to take effect in 2020 Bangkok Post 8th Dec 2018
The e-payment law, a tool for the Revenue Department to tax the income of non-salaried earners, particularly online vendors, will go into force from Jan 1, 2020. It takes time to link systems between the Revenue Department and financial institutions, so the money transfer reporting requirement will be implemented in early 2020, said department spokesman Pinsai Suraswadi.

Internet economy continues strong gains Bangkok Post 8th Dec 2018
Thailand's internet economy ranked No.2 in Southeast Asia, worth US$12 billion (394 billion baht) in 2018 out of $72 billion in the region, thanks to growth of the e-commerce and online media sectors, according to the latest Google-Temasek report. "The internet economy contributes 2.7% of Thailand's national GDP, showing it is in line with the country's economic growth," said Ben King, country director of Google Thailand.

E-commerce players up in arms over tax Bangkok Post 7th Dec 2018
The government's tax collection policy is threatening the growth of e-payments and discouraging a cashless society, say e-payment and e-commerce proponents. The Bank of Thailand reported that the value of e-payments in June 2018 was 38.94 trillion baht, up from 33.56 trillion a year earlier. The volume of e-payment transactions in June 2018 totalled 375 trillion, up from 250 trillion the previous June.

Plan to shepherd 600,000 SMEs into e-commerce next year Bangkok Post 7th Dec 2018
Roughly 600,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be brought into the government's measures for better accessibility of the e-commerce platform in 2019 in a bid to increase their competitiveness in the global market, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

700MHz auction postponed from February to 3rd quarter Bangkok Post 7th Dec 2018
The telecom regulator has extended the timeline for the 700MHz spectrum auction from the original date in February 2019 to the third quarter. The soonest the 700MHz range could be used for wireless broadband service, 5G in particular, would be in early 2020, in line with the government's roadmap for 5G adoption in the country, said Col Natee Sukonrat, vice-chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Vietnam

E-passports for Vietnamese citizens expected by 2020: public security ministry Viet Nam News 17th Dec 2018
Vietnamese citizens are set to enjoy faster, more convenient and more secure border crossings with new biometric passports to be rolled out by 2020. The new system is detailed in the draft law on the entry and exit of Vietnamese citizens that the public security ministry completed earlier this week. The ministry is seeking public feedback.

Hospitals going digital Vietnam Net 14th Dec 2018
The three most important factors in a smart medical model needed to boost information and communication technologies (ICT) - smart healthcare, smart hospitals, and smart medical management - are set to be built in the years to come. “Digital transformation in the healthcare sector is inevitable,” said Mr. Nguyen Duy Hien, Director of the Medical Division at FPT Information System (FPT IS). “Despite a lot of digitalization achievements being seen in Vietnam’s medical industry in recent years, none of the hospitals can operate without physical documents, which creates many issues in medical examinations and treatment. As a result, there are huge opportunities for not only hospital operators but also hi-tech medical equipment and solution providers to invest and transform the entire healthcare sector in the country.”

Vietnam, Russia step up cooperation in e-government building Vietnam News Agency 14th Dec 2018
Vietnam and Russia have agreed to work together in building up e-government and cybersecurity. In a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov in Moscow on December 11, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung stressed that both nations have huge potential to bolster cooperation in the fields of transport infrastructure, as well as information and technology, following the official visit of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Vietnam in November.