ICT Update: March 31, 2020

ICT Update | March 31, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Jamie Lim, Natalie Tantisirirat, Julianne Alberto
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
April 7/April 6: ICT Committee Call. Please join us for our upcoming ICT Committee Call on April 7, 9:00AM-10:30AM SGT/April 6, 9:00-10:30PM ET. The Council will share updates on ongoing advocacy and lead a discussion on our Committee strategy. Those interested may register at this link.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Council members join in the fight against COVID-19 through technology
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology is being deployed across ASEAN and globally to either help prevent or ameliorate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

In Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and a local association for the tech industry, SGTech, have collaborated to bring together a directory of over 50 technology solutions to help enterprises address business challenges that may arise from COVID-19. These include solutions to cover three main areas: remote working, visitor management, and productivity improvements. Many businesses offer enterprise grade solutions at promotional rates, including extended free trials. Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, has also announced a RM300-million SME Automation and Digitalization Facility as part of a broader funding initiative to alleviate SMEs’ financial burden. The Facility is intended to incentivize SMEs to automate processes and digitalize operations to improve productivity and efficiency and is available until December 31, 2020.

Platform companies such as Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube have issued a joint industry statement to combat fraud and misinformation about the virus on their platforms, and to share updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies globally.

As many ASEAN member states continue to rely on a range of ICT solutions, the need for consistent and reliable telecommunication services and networks across the region are more important than ever. In the Philippines, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) was directed to monitor the compliance of all operating Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in providing ample bandwidth allocation, and availability of service and signal, based on their respective service level agreements. This is to ensure consistent and reliable telecommunication services to support key government operations and the provision public services, facilitate business continuity, and to provide alternative education platforms.

“Cyber incidents” included in Philippines emergency powers bill
In response to COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine government enacted an emergency powers law called “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020” granting President Rodrigo Duterte temporary emergency powers. The law gives him sweeping authority to expedite the procurement process for supplies, health facilities, as well as to compensate and address the needs of health workers, among others.

In relation to peace and order, Section 6 of the law punishes individuals or groups creating perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding COVID-19 on social media and other platforms. Included in the offenses are “cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of current crisis situation” through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts. The National Privacy Commission has also released bulletins on protecting personal data during COVID-19 and noting to “collect what [data] is necessary [and to] disclose [data] only to the proper authority” as advisories for the public to follow to avoid falling victim to fraud, phishing, and other scams.

Under the emergency powers law, offenses for the creation, perpetration or spreading of false information are punishable by imprisonment of two months or a fine between PhP10,000 (US$196.49) to PhP1,000,000 (US$19,649). The liability under Section 6 will be in addition to possible liabilities under the current Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The emergency powers law will be effective for three months unless extended by Congress.

ASEAN Governments launch apps to aid COVID-19 tracking and tracing
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the region continues to rise, many ASEAN governments have begun introducing apps either to support contact tracing or virus monitoring efforts. 

Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and Ministry of Health have developed and launched TraceTogether, an app that can be downloaded by anyone with a Singapore mobile number and Bluetoooth-enabled smartphone. The app will allow the users’ phone to record encounters of close proximity with other phones using the app. Records will be stored locally and encrypted on the phone for 21 days, a duration longer than the virus’ period of incubation. Whereas the app will not replace the ongoing contact tracing efforts, it will expedite the existing contact-tracing process, which relies on human memory and available records. Registration for the app is not mandatory. To protect user privacy, explicit consent of the user is required, and can be withdrawn. Instead of using GPS or location data, the app will instead generate a temporary ID that is exchanged between phones of TraceTogether users through Bluetooth technology. It will not establish where a person is but only who came near the person’s device. 

In a move to support the international community in combatting the pandemic, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said that the app will be open-sourced. This will allow others globally to redistribute and/or modify the software’s source code. Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has also signaled its intent to introduce a similar contact tracing app.

Earlier in March, Vietnam introduced a voluntary NCOVI app for Vietnamese people and visitors to report their health status and receive any relevant updates from the Government. Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam also noted that data collected through the app would also enable the health sector to learn more about cases in need of medical support in the fastest and most effective manner. 

The Government of Brunei has also launched an app that allows users to self-assess if they have COVID-19 symptoms and to alert authorities of suspected cases. Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah announced that the app, which launched on March 24, is a real-time government dashboard that provides the latest information on COVID-19. It will also allow user to track the number of COVID-19 cases, recoveries, and those on quarantine. The app was built in collaboration with China's Yidu Cloud Technology using big data science and artificial intelligence algorithms. Additional features will be included in its future upgrades including access to government press releases and forecasts on infection rates.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Indonesia Position Paper on Digital Taxation Best Practices
The Indonesian government is currently drafting an Omnibus Bill on Taxation ("Draft Bill") to simplify tax regulations and boost investment in Indonesia. The Bill will introduce corporate tax cuts and digital taxation, among others. The Directorate General of Taxation has extended an opportunity for the Council's member companies to recommend best practices on digital taxation from other countries to be considered in the drafting of the Omnibus Law on Taxation, including:

  • Value Added Tax (VAT) registration for digital services
  • VAT collection for digital services
  • Import duty on digital goods

We would like to request members to share best practices, specifically noting the (i) country (ii) topic, and (iii) additional details about these best practices. The Council is in the process of developing our updated draft submission and will be looking to share this within the week. Members are advised to submit inputs to Steven Gunawan at sgunawan@usasean.org and Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org.

Indonesia GR71 Implementing Regulation Regarding the Governance of Private Scope Electronic System Operators
On March 26, the Council shared our submission on Draft Implementing Regulation of Government Regulation 71/ 2019 on the Governance of Private Scope Electronic System Operators with Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics (KOMINFO). For a final copy of our submission, please reach out to Steven Gunawan sgunawan@usasean.org and Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org.

Indonesia Implementing Regulation on E-Commerce (GR 80)
The Council will plan to share feedback and recommendations on Government Regulation No.80/2019 on E-commerce (GR 80) with the Indonesia Ministry of Trade and is looking to schedule a meeting among members to discuss our advocacy position and strategy. The Council is in the process of finalizing our submission. More details will be shared when made available. Please contact Mega Valentina at mega@usasean.org, Angga Antagia at aantagia@usasean.org and Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org if you have questions.

Indonesia Personal Data Protection Bill
The Council has received an updated Personal Data Protection Bill (Bahasa | English), which is currently with Commission I of the House of Representatives (DPR) for further deliberation. The Council is in the process of finalizing our industry submission on the Personal Data Protection Bill to the Chairman on Commission I. Please contact Angga Antagia at aantagia@usasean.org, Steven Gunawan at sgunawan@usasean.org and Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org if you have any questions.

AI Pilipinas: An AI Strategy Paper for the Philippines
The Council is in the process of finalizing our comments on a strategy paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help encourage and drive AI adoption in the Philippines. The strategy paper, which is being developed in coordination with other organizations including the Makati Business Club, Institute of Corporate Directors, and the IT Association of the Philippines, will be shared with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). If interested, please contact Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org or Natalie Tantisirirat at ntantisirirat@usasean.org for more information. 

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Deep learning to be key driver for expansion and adoption of AI in Asia-Pacific
Fear of Cyber Attacks Hinder Mobility, Digitalization and Asia’s Economic Growth
Millennials are creating big opportunities for online travel investors in SEA
Will IoT be the answer to the looming food crisis?

Brunei
Computer shops see rise in sales due to online learning mandate
Facebook tops Sultanate’s social media

Cambodia
Cambodia and Vietnamese enterprises adopt measures strengthen strategic collaboration
Cellcard announces Cambodia’s first use of 5G to help Kingdom during Covid-19
Pandemic means that Digital 2020 postponed
Online-based sales urged for tax registration obligation

Indonesia
Coronavirus: Indonesia develops surveillance app to bolster contact tracing
As Indonesians work from home, telcos and internet providers offer free services
Telkomsel offers free access to data on official COVID-19 website
Indonesian startups launch a platform to disseminate information related to COVID-19
Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot goes live on WhatsApp
Indonesian Health Apps Join Forces for Covid-19 Home Consultations
Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits

Laos
Viettel Rolls Out Nationwide 5G-ready Timing Solution with ADVA

Malaysia
KKMM Applauds Digital and Tech industry’s assistance to SMEs during MCO
ICT spending in Malaysia to reach US$25.2bn 2023
Consumers To Receive Free 1GB Per Day Throughout MCO Period
Maxis offers free data up to 20GB and free data for productivity apps
MCO: Digi offers free data and calls to its customers
U Mobile doubles hotspot data
Celcom offers free unlimited access and payment extension to support Malaysians

Myanmar
Banking on a cashless future

Philippines
Huawei looks to partner with PH hospitals for AI-assisted coronavirus diagnosis
PLDT, Globe gear for data demand as COVID-19 keeps millions in Philippines indoors
Google offers free access to paid G Suite for Education features in the Philippines
More Filipinos Turn to Digital Banking Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown

Singapore
IPOS simplified the trademarks filing process – to a mere 10 minutes
How GovTech created a web accessibility testing tool
Australia inks digital economy pact with Singapore
Grab To Pilot 14-Week Accelerator Program in Singapore

Thailand
NBTC allots B1bn for health fight
Virus relief fraudsters con workers
NBTC keen to snag ITU's international conference
App orders projected to see 17% growth
NBTC seeks nod for free 10GB perk

Vietnam
MIC launches campaign to apply Vietnamese technology for digital life
31,000 businesses sign up for MoIT’s services portal
Recruitment in technology sector grows with digital transformation
COVID-19 shows pressing need for quicker digital transformation
MobiFone successfully tests 5G network
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Deep learning to be key driver for expansion and adoption of AI in Asia-Pacific ASEAN Technology & Security Magazine 27th Mar 2020
Deep learning, a subset of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), is predicted to provide formidable momentum for the adoption and growth of artificial intelligence in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The next few years will see deep learning become part of main-stream deployments, bringing commendable changes to businesses in the region, says GlobalData. It estimates the APAC region to account for approximately 30% of the global AI platforms’ revenue (around US$97.5bn) by 2024.

Fear of Cyber Attacks Hinder Mobility, Digitalization and Asia’s Economic Growth ASEAN Technology & Security Magazine 26th Mar 2020
Asia’s thriving digital economy and the recent surge in workforce mobility across the region are exposing businesses to an increasingly ‘perfect storm’ for cyber-attacks, according to the Deloitte Cyber Smart: Enabling APAC businesses report, commissioned by VMware. Analyzing cyber exposure, preparedness and economic opportunity across 12 economies in Asia Pacific (APAC), the report found that there is opportunity to grow GDP by US$145 billion for the entire region over the next 10 years if enterprises adopt an intrinsic security approach that ensures business continuity while driving greater adoption of new technologies. Cybersecurity expenditure in Southeast Asia was estimated at US$1.9 billion in 2017 and is projected to grow to US$5.5 billion by 2025. Yet, cyber-attacks remain a key threat to organizations in the region.

Millennials are creating big opportunities for online travel investors in SEA TechinAsia 27th Mar 2020
Looking toward integrating all stages of the booking process, from marketing to the point of purchase, the online travel sector hopes to expand the pie further by adopting and adapting to the myriad of online payment platforms available. Regardless of where a company exists on the digital travel value chain, the one thing they will all inevitably have in common is the need for a variety of connected payment methods. This is a big part of why investors believe travel tech is poised to boom for a second time, following the prevalence of fintech in the region.

Will IoT be the answer to the looming food crisis? The Business Times 12th Mar 2020
Many farmers in Southeast Asia are turning to technology to tackle the impact of global climate change combined with the need to feed a global population expected to reach 9.1 billion people in 2050. At the heart of the new wave of innovative agricultural practices is the Internet of Things, or IoT, and its potential to offer farmers more automation and intelligence than ever before. More and more farms in Asia are taking advantage of new agricultural equipment, including auto-guided tractors, combines, tillers, robotic sprayers and weeding robots to automate and optimise their activities. But the key to immediate productivity improvements is IoT-powered agri-tech, which combines all the data available from the sensor grid built into farmlands, feeds it to analytics platforms, and improves the overall farming practices through valuable insights.

Brunei

Computer shops see rise in sales due to online learning mandate Borneo Bulletin 30th Mar 2020
Computer shops across the country have seen a rise in sales with parents scrambling to secure the necessary materials for their children ahead of online learning mandated by the Ministry of Education (MoE) starting March 30. Concepts Computer Managing Director Vincent Pao told the Bulletin the IT business has been better than usual, noting that a majority of the customers are very knowledgeable on IT products and what their needs are. 

Facebook tops Sultanate’s social media Borneo Bulletin 19th Mar 2020
Facebook is the most popular social media application used by Internet-savvy users in Brunei, amounting to 60 per cent, followed by Instagram (57.6 per cent) and YouTube (57.2 per cent), according to the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI), which released its latest edition of the Brunei Darussalam ICT Household Report on March 17. These two reports were the results from surveys conducted from October 2018 to May 2019 to assess the extent of access, usage, adoption and affordability of ICT services among the consumers and businesses in the country. The report also highlighted that 95 per cent of respondents use the Internet; and that the top uses of the Internet are for seeking information and general knowledge, messaging and teleconferencing, and social media. The report also said 42 per cent of the respondents perceived the average Internet speed to be good, while 58.7 per cent of the respondents perceived the cost of the Internet to be just right. 

Cambodia

Cambodia and Vietnamese enterprises adopt measures strengthen strategic collaboration Khmer Times 28th Mar 2020
Viettel Cambodia (Metfone), a subsidiary of Vietnam’s military-run telecommunications company Viettel Group and MB Cambodia, a branch of Vietnam’s Military Commercial Joint- Stock Bank (MB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a five-year strategic partnership of cooperation to strengthen their development in and contributions to Cambodia.

Cellcard announces Cambodia’s first use of 5G to help Kingdom during Covid-19 Phnom Penh Post 24th Mar 2020
Cellcard on Friday announced Cambodia’s first use of 5G for a telemedicine service at four locations across Phnom Penh to help the Kingdom’s most critically ill during the Covid-19 outbreak. Cellcard, which is the only 100 per cent Cambodian-owned and "Proudly Khmer" mobile network operator, has been serving the people of Cambodia since 1997. The service will see Phnom Penh’s leading doctors assess patients nationwide via video conference link to mobile phones and devices anywhere in Cambodia. The service can be used to connect to patients in their homes, in clinics or hospitals.

Pandemic means that Digital 2020 postponed Khmer Times 24th Mar 2020
The escalating health crisis that Cambodia is experiencing because of the Coronavirus outbreak has led to the postponement of several major business-related events supposed to be held this month in the Kingdom, including Digital Cambodia 2020. Digital Cambodia 2020, the biggest event for the Kingdom’s burgeoning digital sector this year, was supposed to be held from March 20 to 22 at the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh. Close to 200 local and international companies involved in the digital sector and related fields were lined up for the event, which was expected to draw more than 30,000 Cambodians and foreign visitors.

Online-based sales urged for tax registration obligation Khmer Times 16th Mar 2020
Cambodia now plans to tax online businesses – even individuals – using the Facebook platform in Cambodia to sell products and services as if they are officially registered enterprises. Kong Vibol, director general of the General Department of Taxation at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, insisted any transaction involving a profit is subject to register with the tax administration.

Indonesia

Coronavirus: Indonesia develops surveillance app to bolster contact tracing The Straits Times 30th Mar 2020
Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry, in collaboration with the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry, has developed a mobile app that enables users to compile data related to the spread of coronavirus in their communities and help bolster the government's efforts to trace and track confirmed cases, as well as suspected patients across the country. The homegrown app, dubbed PeduliLindungi for the time being, cross references the data stored on its users' mobile devices through Bluetooth connection.

As Indonesians work from home, telcos and internet providers offer free services KrASIA 28th Mar 2020
To support the president’s order to maintain public health, a number of telco operators and internet providers have promised to keep connections up and running, while offering some free services to customers. XL Axiata is providing 2 GB of data per day for free, allowing access to several apps and services, including e-learning platforms Udemy, Ruangguru, and Zenius, as well as services from Microsoft 365. Users can also access information about the coronavirus from official sources, such as the health ministry and Jakarta’s provincial government, at no charge. Internet provider Biznet has increased its bandwidth capacity at no additional cost for its home users for the next 14 days.

Telkomsel offers free access to data on official COVID-19 website Antara News 28th Mar 2020
Telkomsel is providing free access to data on the official website for COVID-19 information in a bid to help the public obtain updated and credible information on the pandemic in Indonesia. Telkomsel, along with several other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and the Jakarta Provincial Government, is providing free data access to three official information platforms for the COVID-19 pandemic: www.covid19.go.id, www.infeksiemerging.kemkes.go.id, www.corona.jakarta.go.id.

Indonesian startups launch a platform to disseminate information related to COVID-19 KrASIA 28th Mar 2020
Indonesian “smart city provider” startup Qlue has teamed up with conversational artificial intelligence (AI) startup Kata.ai, chat software provider Qiscus, and  information technology company Volantis to launch Indonesia Bergerak, an interactive site that visualizes public reports and information related to COVID-19. All of this is integrated with other data, such as the number of confirmed cases in each area and the availability of referral hospitals that are near a user. Other than submit numbers and status updates, users can also report crowds that have gathered in public spaces.

Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot goes live on WhatsApp KrASIA 28th Mar 2020
With no apparent end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government has released a chatbot feature on WhatsApp to provide citizens with basic information about the disease. In a public statement, communication and information technology minister Johnny G. Plate said his ministry has been collaborating with WhatsApp and Telkom Group to build the tool and release it with the account name COVID19.GO.ID, matching the URL of the government’s information portal about COVID-19.

Indonesian Health Apps Join Forces for Covid-19 Home Consultations Jakarta Globe 27th Mar 2020
Online health applications have joined government’s coordinated measures to deal with Covid-19 epidemic by providing free home consultations to those in need. Doctors involved in the online services will advise users how to prevent them from contracting the virus, analyze if they develop symptoms and alert the government task force if they need further treatment at the hospital. The services will be integrated with the government’s Covid-19 Task Force, according to Arya Sinulingga, a senior official with the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry.

Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits The Jakarta Post 26th Mar 2020
An Indonesia-based start-up, Nusantics, is reportedly preparing to make 100,000 COVID-19 test kits. A prototype will be complete within two weeks, an investor says. Willson Cuaca, co-founder and managing partner at East Venture, said Nusantics had been appointed by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to make the test kits based on samples from Indonesian nationals.

Laos

Viettel Rolls Out Nationwide 5G-ready Timing Solution with ADVA Bloomberg.com 20th Mar 2020
ADVA (FSE:ADV) and NEC Corporation announced that Viettel, a global telecommunications service provider based in Vietnam, has deployed ADVA's Oscilloquartz timing solution throughout Laos and Myanmar to provide nationwide 4G services and prepare its synchronization network for 5G. The technology enables Viettel to smoothly transition its legacy timing infrastructure, deliver 4G coverage to more mobile subscribers and lay the foundations for next-generation services. Installed and maintained by NEC, the new solution is built on ADVA's OSA 3230B primary reference cesium clock (PRC) for assured and precise synchronization with or without GNSS. It also features ADVA's versatile ultra-compact synchronization supply units (SSUs) with high-capacity PTP modules for grandmaster clock functionality.

Malaysia

KKMM Applauds Digital and Tech industry’s assistance to SMEs during MCO Digital News Asia 27th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia of Malaysia (KKMM) applauds the strong response from over 80 digital and tech companies under the #DigitalVsCovid movement to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are negatively impacted by the Movement Control Order (MCO) that the government introduced to reduce Covid-19 infections. KKMM’s agency, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), introduced the #DigitalVsCovid movement to galvanise support from the digital economy stakeholders to combat Covid-19 and mitigate the business risks arising from it.

ICT spending in Malaysia to reach US$25.2bn 2023 ASEAN Technology & Security Magazine 17th Mar 2020
The information and communication technology (ICT) market in Malaysia is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% between 2019 and 2023.This growth from 2018 US$16.5bn to US$25.2bn in 2023, will mainly be supported by the rising adoption of ‘client computing’ and ‘cloud computing’, says GlobalData. According to GlobalData Market Opportunity Forecasts, ‘mobility’, ‘cloud computing’, ‘data analytics’, ‘storage’ and ‘business process outsourcing’ will be the five leading IT solution areas in terms of growth rate. Mobility is set to witness the highest CAGR of 21% during the forecast period.

Consumers To Receive Free 1GB Per Day Throughout MCO Period Lowyat.NET 27th Mar 2020
As part of the the economic stimulus package, PM Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that telco companies in Malaysia will be providing free Internet data throughout the Movement Control Period. While details regarding it are not yet available at the moment, it appears that consumers will receive 1GB on daily basis. This move apparently cost RM 600 million to be implemented and will be made available starting from 1 April 2020 until MCO is concluded. Another RM 400 million will be allocated to help improve network coverage in Malaysia.

Maxis offers free data up to 20GB and free data for productivity apps Malay Mail 22nd Mar 2020
Maxis has announced more measures to help Malaysians cope with the current Movement Control Order. After introducing free data access to selected websites, the telco is now offering free data up to 20GB for consumers along and free unlimited access to productivity tools to support Malaysians who are working from home.

MCO: Digi offers free data and calls to its customers Malay Mail 22nd Mar 2020
Digi has announced several initiatives to support its postpaid, prepaid and broadband customers during the movement control order (MCO) which is scheduled to last until March 31, 2020. The yellow telco is offering free data, calls and access to learning portals, to help Malaysians cope with the Stay at Home order.

U Mobile doubles hotspot data NST Online 21st Mar 2020
In a move to lessen the burden of its subscribers during this Movement Control Order (MCO), U Mobile will be doubling its hotspot data quota for customers of their prepaid GX38 plan and postpaid GX50, GX68, Unlimited HERO P99 and Unlimited HERO P139 plans until March 31, 2020. According to its chief marketing officer, Jasmine Lee, U Mobile is aware that their customers’ hotspot data needs will increase during the nationwide movement control period.

Celcom offers free unlimited access and payment extension to support Malaysians Malay Mail 19th Mar 2020
Celcom has introduced several special relief efforts to support Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic. To help Malaysians stay connected during the Movement Control order, customers can enjoy a variety of initiatives which include free unlimited access to selected services as well as extended payment duration for their bill.

Myanmar

Banking on a cashless future The Myanmar Times 12th Mar 2020
In a joint statement after President U Win Myint’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a digital payment channel was set up using India’s RuPay card scheme in Myanmar. Since the agreement, interest in Myanmar’s digital payment system has grown. U Zaw Lin Htut, chief executive officer of the Myanmar Payment Union (MPU), talks about the challenges facing the country’s transition to online payments.

Philippines

Huawei looks to partner with PH hospitals for AI-assisted coronavirus diagnosis Rappler 21st Mar 2020
Huawei Philippines says it's looking to partner with Philippine hospitals in assisting them with COVID-19 diagnoses. Huawei is proposing the use of its Huawei Cloud AI-assisted diagnosis for COVID-19, a system that Huawei says uses AI to speed up the process of evaluating computed tomgography (CT) images. The company said that in China, the country's health commission, includes CT scans as part of its clinical diagnosis standards for COVID-19. Huawei's AI technology could reportedly speed up the process of analyzing these results with an accuracy of 98%, in the process reducing the workloads of doctors tasked with analyzing the images.

PLDT, Globe gear for data demand as COVID-19 keeps millions in Philippines indoors ABS-CBN News 18th Mar 2020
PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom said Wednesday they were taking steps to meet demand for data and keep connections stable as the 30-day Luzon lockdown forced millions in the Philippines to stay home.

Google offers free access to paid G Suite for Education features in the Philippines Rappler 29th Mar 2020
Google is making some paid features of the enterprise version of G Suite for Education free in the Philippines. The app suite is a set of productivity tools for teaching and learning, including Hangouts (video and voice conferencing), Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Google Classroom. The company says that with these tools, schools will be able conduct distance learning and remain productive despite not being in one classroom together.

More Filipinos Turn to Digital Banking Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown Fintech Singapore 24th Mar 2020
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) logged a 259% increase on new sign-ups on its online banking service in the first three days of the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Bank data show a daily average of 1,116 new enrollments from March 17 to March 19. This is more than double the average daily enrollment of 431 recorded in the same month before the enforcement of the ECQ. The biggest number of new sign-ups at 1,155 was observed in March 17, the first day of the Luzon-wide quarantine.

Singapore

IPOS simplified the trademarks filing process – to a mere 10 minutes GovTech SG 29th Mar 2020
It generally takes about 45 minutes to an hour to file a new trademark online. With the recently launched IPOS Go app, the world’s first online trademark filing app, GovTech has reduced the trademark application process from one hour to just 10 minutes. Trademark filing has traditionally been a complicated and time-consuming process for business owners. To tackle this pain point, a cross-agency team comprising IPOS and GovTech staff set out to simplify the intellectual property (IP) registration process. The team envisioned a platform that would enable business owners to easily perform IP transactions, as effortlessly as one would transact online.

How GovTech created a web accessibility testing tool GovTech SG 29th Mar 2020
At the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), a team of developers and designers wants to make sure that Professionals with Disabilities (PWDs) are not left out of the digital revolution. For a start, the team has created a customisable, automated accessibility testing tool that allows software development teams to assess whether their products are user-friendly to PWDs. With a list of common pain points surfaced by PWDs, the GovTech team then brainstormed on how they might develop a tool to automatically detect these accessibility issues and rank them according to impact on PWDs.

Australia inks digital economy pact with Singapore ComputerWeekly.com 25th Mar 2020
Australia has inked a digital economy agreement with Singapore that is expected to open new digital trade opportunities for businesses and consumers in the two countries. Through the pact, the transfer of data between Australia and Singapore for business purposes, including in the financial sector, will be allowed. This will help businesses remain competitive by gaining access to useful market intelligence, identifying growth opportunities, designing innovative goods and services, improving pricing and operating more efficiently.

Grab To Pilot 14-Week Accelerator Program in Singapore AsiaTechDaily 17th Mar 2020
Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading super app, announced today a partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for the pilot launch of Grab Ventures Ignite (GVI), the company’s 14-week accelerator program. GVI will initially be available to Singapore-based startups with interest to venture overseas, especially into Vietnam, Grab said in a statement. Selected startups will stand to benefit from a host of capability development programs and exposure opportunities. Grab and IMDA will evaluate the Singapore startups based on a range of criteria including but not limited to core team strength, existing standing in the Singapore market, potential fit with the Vietnamese market, and readiness to expand.

Thailand

NBTC allots B1bn for health fight Bangkok Post 29th Mar 2020
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Wednesday agreed to set aside 1 billion baht from its budget to support hospitals and public health agencies in combating the coronavirus outbreak. The sum will be drawn from its fiscal 2020 budget and Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research Fund (BTRF). Hospitals and public health agencies have been allowed to submit their request for assistance with the NBTC. Other uses include helping public health agencies and hospitals develop communication apps for people who cannot visit hospitals for checkups when the emergency decree comes into force, he said. The NBTC's move could set a precedent for other state enterprises and corporations to follow by earmarking money from budgets deemed unnecessary to help those in dire need, he said. The NBTC earlier planned to provide mobile users with 10 free gigabytes of data usage per subscriber per month until the end of June to assist people in working from home following the outbreak. The plan, however, was not tabled at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday as expected. The plan involves state coffers, with the budget from 5G spectrum licence payment and Universal Service Obligation fees.

Virus relief fraudsters con workers Bangkok Post 29th Mar 2020
Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana has vowed to crack down on people who demand a "commission" by offering to help informal workers applying for 5,000-baht financial aid granted by the government to relieve the Covid-19 impact. The demands for payment have been made even though applicants can easily register their requests online, and come as state-owned Krung Thai Bank reported yesterday that at least 44 phoney websites have been opened to fool workers into revealing their private information.

NBTC keen to snag ITU's international conference Bangkok Post 16th Mar 2020
The telecom regulator will ask to host a major conference for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in May 2021 as part of a push to outline Thailand's competitiveness in 5G. Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said he will talk with ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao soon via video conference about the proposal to host the ITU Telecom World 2021 conference.

App orders projected to see 17% growth Bangkok Post 30th Mar 2020
Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research) projects 17% growth for online food delivery through apps this year as the coronavirus outbreak has discouraged people from visiting restaurants. Last year, K-Research predicted food delivery would grow an average of 10% per year, faster than the food business at a 4-5% clip per year. Once the pandemic winds down, whether online food delivery will become the new normal for Thai customers is hard to predict as food prices via delivery services are more expensive than eating out, he said.

NBTC seeks nod for free 10GB perk Bangkok Post 30th Mar 2020
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will seek cabinet approval on Tuesday for providing mobile users with 10 free gigabytes of data usage per subscriber per month until June 30 as work from home measures are being adopted broadly in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. For fixed broadband service, existing household broadband subscribers would be supported in using the better capacity package without additional charges, though details of it have yet to be divulged. Regarding fibre-to-the-home (FTTX) service, at least 100 megabits per second for download speeds must be ensured for household subscribers.

Vietnam

MIC launches campaign to apply Vietnamese technology for digital life vietnamnews.vn 27th Mar 2020
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng has issued a directive and launched a campaign to apply Vietnamese technology for digital life. The key content of the campaign is to promote digital applications in all fields, create a digital life and create new opportunities to promote socio-economic development. The directive outlines 10 key tasks: developing a digital work environment, health system, training system to serve learning needs and digital utility system serving daily needs.

31,000 businesses sign up for MoIT’s services portal vietnamnews.vn 23rd Mar 2020
More than 31,000 businesses have signed up to use a portal that provides public services online, according to the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoIT). By the end of last year, the portal processed and handled over 1.5 million electronic forms, 99 per cent of the total forms sent by businesses. Đặng Hoàng Hải, the agency’s head, said the portal – which was introduced in 2016 to the business community – is the only portal authorised by the ministry. The portal has also been connected to the National Public Service Portal.

Recruitment in technology sector grows with digital transformation vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
A survey on salary by Robert Walters said that recruitment in Việt Nam posted growth last year. The technology sector continued to grow rapidly, while industrial enterprises continued to promote digital transformation. The manufacturing industry also showed a great demand for talents as many companies shifted production to Việt Nam. Robert Walters, a professional recruitment consulting firm, recently released the Salary Survey 2020 in Southeast Asia and China.

COVID-19 shows pressing need for quicker digital transformation vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng has urged digital companies to innovate and develop platforms for online services as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked a pressing need for Việt Nam to hasten digital transformation. Hùng said the pandemic was posing considerable challenges but there were also opportunities. “COVID-19 helps us change our thinking. It is a breaking point in the development process and many habits will change,” he said. “This provides the biggest opportunity to accelerate digital transformation and bring socio-economic activities online.”

MobiFone successfully tests 5G network vietnamnews.vn 12th Mar 2020
MobiFone announced on Wednesday that it had successfully tested 5G networks in Hà Nội, HCM City, Đà Nẵng and Hải Phòng after nearly a year of preparation. During the preparation work, the company has actively worked with big 5G equipment and service providers from around the world to comprehensively assess the responsiveness and service quality as well as problems arising when developing the network on a large scale. Test results of MobiFone’s 5G network has a download data speed approximately 2Gbps.