ICT Update: June 4, 2020

ICT Update | June 4, 2020
Authors: Shay Wester, Mario Masaya, Natalie Tantisirirat, Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 11, 2020: Virtual Meeting with PDPC on the Singapore Personal Data Protection (PDP) Amendment Bill

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Progress in 5G Technology Development in ASEAN

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN countries remain focused on developing 5G technology for deployment and application across the country.

On May 11, after gaining one of two licenses to build 5G networks in Singapore in late April, Singapore-based telecommunications provider M1 announced a joint smart manufacturing trial with IBM and Samsung beginning in June. The trial is an industry 4.0 pilot project and will focus on leveraging 5G connectivity such as improving upon the control of robotic arms and other connected devices on the factory floor. In addition to M1, Starhub Mobile, who jointly bid with M1, and Singtel have also secured licenses to deploy nationwide 5G networks.

On the same day, Thailand’s largest mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) announced that it had set aside US$1.2 billion for investment in 5G network expansion, aiming to cover around 13 percent of the total population by the end of 2020. AIS is the first telecommunication service provider to launch 5G service commercially in ASEAN, having deployed it in February 2020. Following the announcement, on May 26, the Thai Government established a 26-member committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, to develop a roadmap for 5G networks rollout. The committee will address roadblocks related to the recall of unused spectrum from state agencies for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and promote inter-agency cooperation to develop 5G roadmap and infrastructure.

Vietnam has also prioritized and made progress with its 5G technology development. Although the Vietnam Government has not granted any licenses to deploy 5G networks, it has granted trial licenses to four major telecommunication services providers in Vietnam to date. Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the latest provider to secure the trial license, became the latest to successfully pilot this technology in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on April 24. Viettel, the first to test run 5G since September 2019, has planned to pilot the first stage of the commercialization process for 5G Microcell stations in June 2020. A Fitch Solutions report in mid-May has supported that Vietnam could launch commercial services by mid-2020.

Thailand Government Postpones Enforcement of the Personal Data Protection Act

During a meeting on May 19, the Thai cabinet approved a royal decree postponing the majority of the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (PDPA) for a year. The delay comes as Thai policymakers, such as Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, recognize that increased budget and human capital requirements to adhere to the Act’s strict regulations surrounding use of personal data, greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout in Thailand and across the globe.

Originally scheduled to take effect on May 27, the PDPA aims to create new systems of accountability around personal data protection in Thailand, requiring that controllers and processors who use personal data receive consent from owners of that data and only for explicitly stated purposes. The PDPA was first published in the Government Gazette on May 27, 2019, following approval by the Thai National Legislative Assembly. Inspired by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the PDPA will apply to both the private and public sectors once in effect to protect individuals in Thailand from unlawful or unauthorized collection of personal data. In addition, the PDPA will apply to foreign companies who serve the Thai market, regardless of whether a payment is required.

The enforcement of the PDPA would mandate strict requirements for the collection of sensitive personal data such as: criminal records; political opinions; biometrics; and health data, among others. Under the Act, data owners are legally permitted to request access to their personal data, as well as submit requests to delete or anonymize their data. In particular, financial institutions and e-commerce platforms are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Act to maintain compliance.

Other than chapters 1 and 4, which respectively focus on the appointment of members sitting on the Personal Data Protection Committee and the establishment of the Office of the Personal Data Protection Committee, the royal decree defers all chapters of the PDPA until May 27, 2021. The postponement seeks to grant organizations, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with lower capacity, sufficient time to prepare the necessary processes and internal structures involved in adhering to the Act. The suspended chapters include: Chapter 2 (protection of personal data); Chapter 3 (the use or disclosure of personal data); Chapter 5 (complaints); Chapter 6 (civil liability); and Chapter 7 (penalties). According to Putchapong Nodthaisong, deputy permanent secretary for DES, the DES has appointed members for the PDPA Committee but is still awaiting cabinet approval. The PDPA Committee will oversee regulations like criteria to quality as data protection officers, minimum data protection security requirements, and complaint procedures.

Malaysia and Philippines to Boost Digital Transformation to Revive the Economy After Pandemic

As ASEAN countries develop plans to revive the economy in the post-pandemic scenario, Malaysia is looking at digital transformation as a solution. On May 22, Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia affirmed that digital connectivity is not only important to daily activities but also critical to reviving the national economy. The statement came after a meeting between the Minister with representatives of ministries and agencies including the Education Ministry, Higher Education Ministry, and the Malaysian Digital Economic Corporation (MDEC). The meeting aimed to find the best solutions to enhance the country’s digital infrastructure in terms of coverage, quality and the level of capability. Ahead of the meeting, the MDEC on May 18 partnered with US-based online learning platform Coursera to introduce the “Let’s Learn Digital” campaign. The campaign aimed at training a digitally skilled workforce, digitalizing businesses, and attracting digital investment.

Similarly, the Philippine Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) affirmed in separate statements that the Philippines needs to transition into a digital economy to better adapt to the “new normal”. In its statement, the DICT said that the digital economy will help the country become more resilient to external factors and it will adopt a holistic approach towards digitalization, focusing on connectivity, cybersecurity and digital literacy to implement digital transformation. A recent Digital 2020 April Statshot report of Hootsuite and We Are Social showed that Filipinos have increased internet usage during the pandemic. 64 percent of Filipino internet users reported spending more time on social media, while 23 percent of users shared that they are spending more time shopping online.

Indonesia and Philippines Plans Digital Taxation and the US Responds

As the COVID-19 pandemic encourages staying at home and increases digital product consumptions, Indonesia and Philippines join the global discussion on digital taxation to increase tax revenue from digital economy and mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. On May 5, the Indonesia Government issued Ministerial Regulation No. 48/2020 on the Procedures for the Appointment of Value Added Tax (VAT) or Taxable Services from Outside of Indonesia Customs Area through Electronic Trade Systems. The regulation will impose a 10 percent VAT on digital services provided by non-resident companies with a “significant economic presence” in the country, operating in sectors such as software, multimedia, and data. The Indonesia Directorate-General of Taxation (DGT) under the Finance Ministry said that digital products such as music, video streaming, apps, and games “will be treated on a level playing field as other local products that have been subject to VAT”. The regulation will take effect on July 1 after which foreign businesses that sell digital goods and services to customers in Indonesia and whose sales exceed a certain threshold will be required to inform Indonesian DGT to be appointed as our collection agent; collect VAT from their Indonesian customers; pay the tax to the Indonesian Government; and file quarterly reports to the DGT. According to the “e-Conomy SEA 2019” report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, Indonesia’s digital economy was valued at US$40 billion in 2019 and expected to triple by 2025.

Following this development in Indonesia, on May 19, Albay Representative Joey Salceda, Chair of the Philippine House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee, filed the House Bill 6765 or the “Digital Economy Taxation Act of 2020”. He said the measure aimed to capture the value created by the digital economy better in the country’s tax system, plugging loopholes due to ambiguities in what kind of taxes digital services are liable to. The Bill will impose a 10 percent VAT with an increase to 12 percent under specified circumstances; require network orchestrators to be withholding agents for applicable income tax and VAT; and require entities that render digital services to conduct business through a resident agent or representative office in the Philippines. The Bill is estimated to collect as much as P29.1 billion (US$583 million) annually in incremental revenues. On the same day, the Philippine Senate filed Resolution No. 410 to consider collecting taxes from multinational online streaming services and the digital economy. The “e-Conomy SEA 2019” report valued the Philippine digital economy at US$7 billion.

In response to these moves, on June 2 the Trump administration announced investigations into foreign digital services taxes it says are aimed at American tech firms. Netflix and Sweden-based Spotify have been frequently cited as examples the taxes apply to. Before Indonesia and Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore have both implemented digital taxation since January 1, 2020. Malaysia imposes a 6 percent tax rate for imported online services and require foreign service providers to register and remit related services taxes to the Malaysian customs. Singapore imposes a 7 percent tax rate on foreign-supplied digital services, including cross-border business-to-customer and business-to-business services.

Vietnam Promotes Digital Transformation, Wants Data of Digital Economy Stored in Vietnam

As Vietnam is tapping into its Industrial Revolution 4.0, the Ministry of Information and Communications on May 22 launched a campaign to promote digital transformation using cloud computing with the participation of 11 local service providers. Speaking at the event, Minister Nguyen Manh Hung emphasized that cloud computing will play a key role in the future’s digital infrastructure and must be a top investment priority in Vietnam’s digitalization strategy and socio-economic development. In addition, the Ministry made public the entire technical standards and requirements for the State’s e-Government project, giving firms a set of guidelines for the development of cloud computing platforms and applications required by State-owned enterprises and governmental agencies. The Minister also said that the digital economy’s data must stay in the country instead of being stored elsewhere by foreign players. The Minister praised domestic firms for having developed the physical network infrastructure and urged them to do the same for the digital and cloud infrastructure. The domestic cloud computing market is worth nearly US$200 million and growing more than 30 percent annually. Vietnamese firms, however, account for just 20 percent of the market.
 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Sponsorship of Indonesia Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill Advocacy Engagement

Amid the rapid development of the digital economy, the Indonesian Government drafted a Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP Bill) and provided it to the Parliament (DPR) on January 28, 2020. Currently, the Bill is awaiting deliberation by DPR’s Commission I. DPR has yet to announce the working committee members (Panitia Kerja/ Panja) to review the bill. DPR is currently gathering inputs into its Problem Inventory List (DIM) and is planning for a public hearing with various stakeholders (Rapat Dengar Pendapat).

Following the Council’s submission of inputs on the Personal Data Protection Bill to DPR Commission I, the Council is strategizing the next advocacy steps on our engagement with the assistance from a third-party local organization with a proven track record engaging the DPR. This PDP Bill advocacy focuses on stakeholder engagement and process-oriented activities that will be conducted through a series of engagements with DPR members and expert staff.

The sponsorship deadline is Friday, June 5, 2020. For members who would like to express their interest in this sponsorship or have any further questions, please contact Angga Antagia (aantagia@usasean.org) or Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org).

Call for Participation for USAID/Philippines’ Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Project.

The USAID Philippines is seeking potential offerors for the new Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON Project). The project aims to promote better access and connectivity in the Philippines by (a) improving the quality of its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and logistics infrastructure; (b) improving the enabling environment and regulatory governance for ICT and logistics investment; and (c) strengthening cybersecurity protections. The Project’s aims are found in the Statement of Objectives (SOO) in the attached document, Attachment A. Offerors interested must submit a 15-page Concept Paper to response to the SOO. Instructions for the preparation and information on the evaluation of Concept Papers can be found in section Attachment B of the same document. For more information please contact John Avila (javila@usaid.gov) or Manila ROAA RFP (manila-roaa-rfp@usaid.gov).

ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM 2025) Framework
Thank you for providing comments and input on the draft ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM 2025) Framework. The Council has consolidated your feedback and drafted a revised ADM 2025 Framework that was sent on Friday, May 29 to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), host of the 2020 ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN). Please find the final document attached. For more information please contact Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisirirat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org).

ASEAN Cross Border Data Flows Mechanism

In an effort to support ASEAN in implementing the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance, the US-ABC ICT Sub-Committee on Data meeting on April 28th agreed to put together a short paper as key that we will submit to Singapore PDPC in an effort to help provide recommendations for ASEAN consider when implementing the recently-approved “ASEAN Cross Border Data Flows Mechanism”, which comprises the “dual-track” approach comprising ASEAN Certification and ASEAN Model Contractual Clauses. This recommendation paper attempts provide some of the key Council’s perspectives on these dual-track approach.

The Council is seeking feedback from members on the attached short recommendation paper on key considerations for ASEAN when developing the “dual-track approach: ASEAN Certification and ASEAN Model Contractual Clauses.” The Council recognizes the intention behind this dual-track approach is to serve as a springboard for additional data transfer mechanisms to be adopted under the ASEAN Cross Border Data Flows Mechanism. The Council will send the recommendation paper to Singapore Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) as the focal point from ASEAN in this area. Please see attached the draft recommendation for your perusal. For more information please contact Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisirirat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org).

US-ABC Submission Letter on Singapore's Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Bill 2020

On May 14, Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) released their public consultation on the draft Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Bill, including related amendments to the Spam Control Act (SCA). Please find the Public Consultation Paper and Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Bill 2020 (PDP Bill) attached.

The Council has consolidated your feedback and sent a submission letter to the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). Please find the submission letter attached and contact Shay Wester (swester@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisiriat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org) for additional information.

Draft Submission on Vietnam Amendments to Decree 72/2013

The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) is drafting amendments to Decree 72 of 2013 on the management, provision and use of Internet services and online information. Among other things, the new Decree proposes to regulate foreign social media platforms, app store platforms, in-app transaction payments, and all other businesses that need to use user ID verification technologies via SMS, USSD or Livescreen.

Thank you to those who submitted input to the Council. Please find our final draft submission attached. For more information please contact Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisirirat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org).

COVID-19 Best Practices for the ICT Industry

The Council has finalized its input on a set of COVID-19 best practices for the ICT industry to share with ASEAN governments and for consideration as input into the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025. This document outlines recommendations across four key thrusts: Protect; Sustain; Recover, and; Transform. It aims to highlight the contributions of the ICT sector and emphasize recommendations for a post-COVID-19 environment.

Thank you for those who provided feedback to our draft. A final version is attached, with edits from the second draft marked in track changes. In addition, please find the attached cover letter to be sent with the draft. For more information please contact Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisirirat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org).

Final Draft Submission on the 2020 ATRC Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue

The Thailand Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will be hosting the 2020 ASEAN Telecommunications Regulators' Council's (ATRC) Stakeholder's Consultative Dialogue in Thailand on August 20-21, 2020. This is a continuation of our 2019 engagements with the ATRC on Over-the-Top (OTT) services.

Thank you for those who provided feedback to our draft. Please find our final draft attached, with input from the first draft marked in track changes. For more information please contact Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Natalie Tantisirirat (ntantisirirat@usasean.org).

US-ABC Advocacy Tracker

In response to member feedback and in our effort to improve members' ability to plug into our many ongoing advocacy efforts, we have launched a simple Advocacy Tracker on the Council website. The Advocacy Tracker lists all active Call for Inputs with due dates and contacts for which Council staff to reach out to for more information. The tracker can be found on our website under the Members Only section. You may reach out to Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org if you have any questions or feedback regarding the Advocacy Tracker.

Report on Envisioning an ASEAN Single Market for E-Commerce

The Council is working with KPMG to produce a report that will illustrate an ASEAN single market for e-commerce, to support ASEAN in achieving the objectives stipulated in the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce and the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework. The report, which is sponsored by UPS, Google, Amazon and Visa, is looking to conceptualize and propose implementable programs that would help solve the key barriers in logistics, customs clearance, payment systems, and digital infrastructure preventing a common regional market from developing. The report is being developed in close consultation with key stakeholders across the e-commerce ecosystem from trade, customs, banking and ICT sectors. The final output will be presented to the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Electronic Commerce (ACCEC) and serves as one of the Council's key deliverables this year for the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM). The Council will also explore other platforms to share the report, as well as engage with ASEAN policymakers and the ASEAN business community to turn this vision into reality. You may reach out to Shay Wester at swester@usasean.org or Marcella Suwandhi at msuwandhi@usasean.org if you have any questions regarding the report.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Businesses urged to register with BruHealth app
Telecom disruptions caused by DNS issues
PremiseScan launched to boost BruHealth reach
Plans to widen use of BruHealth app, says minister
Over 156,000 on BruHealth app
Gov't launches BruHealth contact tracing app
‘WeeLah! Go Bazaar’ launched
BruHealth app to regulate entry into business premises, sports venues

Cambodia
Wing and Techo Startup Center partner up to support Kingdom’s tech innovators
Cambodia Aims to Replace Dollar with DLT Payment Network in 2020
Digitalisation said to be good for real estate transactions amid pandemic

Indonesia
Malaysia’s Axiata in talks to buy smaller Indonesia telecom rival, says CEO | Malay Mail
Indonesia planning 10% tax on foreign digital services
COVID-19 cyberthreats should prompt Indonesia to step up vigilance, watchdog says
Indonesian Smartphone Market Takes Huge Hit From Pandemic
National Data Center expected to be established this year
Government trials facial recognition system to improve social aid disbursement
Digital companies should adopt ISO cyber security standard, say IT experts
From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19
Online Shopping; Govt Pushing for Digitization of MSMEs
COVID-19-free hospital letters offered on e-commerce platforms
'Our data is secure': Bukalapak denies reports of user data breach

Laos
Women running Southeast Asia's small businesses get digital lifeline
Website assures easier access to business in Laos, says Investment MInistry
Lao satellite to transmit TV, radio programmes

Malaysia
E-commerce set to boom in Malaysia
China eyeing Malaysian companies to expand 5G tech
MDEC, Coursera launch 'let's learn digital' campaign
Minister makes U-turn, cancels 700MHz spectrum awards to TM, DiGi, Maxis, Altel and Axiata
Online business set to stay post-COVID-19
Business premises must abide by procedures in handling personal data
Faster Malaysia-Singapore entry permit vetting during MCO with myPASS
Govt to boost digital connectivity to revive economy: Saifuddin
Ministry: Special task force to discuss internet access, quality and telco charges | Malay Mail
Data from Covid-19 app MyTrace kept on phone, not govt servers, says Khairy

Myanmar
Asia Digest: Dakota Ventures to invest $1m in Myanmar; Vietnam's FoodHub raises funding
Alibaba fintech arm invests $73m in Myanmar's Digital Money
Myanmar operators to block access to more websites, domains, IP addresses

Philippines
Philippines may soon tax Netflix, other digital platforms
Filipino mobile subscriptions set to witness ‘moderate growth’ in 2020
COVID-19 accelerates digital adoption in PH
Philippine home services company GoodWork raises $1.6m
DoF awaiting international consensus on digital services tax
Go digital, Neda chief tells businessmen
‘RJ’ Jacinto replaces Rio as DICT’s undersecretary for operations
Up to P5-M grant for researches, technologies under 'new normal'
Lawmaker bats for e-government system
Gov’t to use ICT tools to combat hunger amid pandemic —Nograles
DepEd urges donors to provide schoolkids with gadgets for distance learning
ICT department backs NEDA, says PHL needs to transition to digital economy
BPOs face uncertain post-pandemic future
Forced closure of ABS-CBN may hurt investor confidence
PLDT studies 5G delay as pandemic disrupts supply chain

Singapore
Libra adds Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek
DBS joins blockchain trade-finance platform Contour's network
IBM, Samsung, M1 team up on 5G smart manufacturing trial in Singapore
More than 2,000 Singapore SMEs, heartland retailers to benefit from new e-commerce solution
S'poreans ready to give up some privacy for safety: IPS study
Robot reminds visitors of safe distancing measures in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Singaporean Daren Tang officially appointed next head of UN intellectual property agency WIPO
IBM, IMDA, M1, AND SAMSUNG TO COLLABORATE ON SINGAPORES FIRST 5G INDUSTRY 4.0 TRIAL

Thailand
AIS mulls digital platform to rival foreign OTT players
Thailand leads ASEAN in 5G rollout due to pandemic
Thailand gears up for 5G
Most parts of PDPA to be deferred by a year
Thailand No 1 exporter of computers, components in Asean
AIS plays down 8.3bn-record leak
New anti-Covid phone app for use when entering shops
Thai Government confirms that a Covid19 contact tracing phone application is coming very soon
5G adoption outlook mixed
NBTC head says technical expertise is secondary for position

Vietnam
Vietnam among world's cheapest mobile data markets: report
Homemade tech makes Vietnam top contestant in 5G
Local social networking sites shaken by draft amendment
Facebook launches campaign to assist Vietnam in developing digital economy
MPI introduces state-of-the-art operating platform
Banks urged to promote digitalisation
Vietnam plans to abolish household registration books
Telecom industry expects high growth in next 5 years
Vietnam pushes for digital transformation with cloud computing
FPT a match made in heaven for AI centre
Data must stay in VN, says minister
Vietnam likely to accelerate 5G launch
State-led approach to boost 5G deployment in Việt Nam: experts
Vietnamese businesses among top targets for phishing in Southeast Asia
NA discusses managing citizen residency via ID numbers
New high-tech park to be built in Đồng Nai
Vietnam's JobHopin nabs US$2.45M Series A to make recruitment easier in Southeast Asia
ICT firms report revenue reduction of up to 90%
Cyber attacks drop 51% in the first four months
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Businesses urged to register with BruHealth app Borneo Bulletin Online 1st Jun 2020
James Kon Businesses that have not registered with the BruHealth app should do so as soon as possible. This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar yesterday during the daily press conference on COVID-19 updates. He said 254,637 individuals and 4,524 businesses and premises have registered with the app. For businesses such as supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, stalls and food courts planning to register with BruHealth soon, he reminded them that they will be “required to obtain a QR code for their premises”.

Telecom disruptions caused by DNS issues Borneo Bulletin Online 1st Jun 2020
Disruptions to mobile broadband services on May 30 were caused by technical issues on Unified National Networks (UNN) Domain Name System (DNS), the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) stated in a statement, following UNN’s social media announcement on the issues. “This incident affected all mobile broadband services and was resolved on the same day with Internet traffic back to normal,” AITI said. “UNN’s investigation into this network disruption revealed a power outage at one of UNN’s sites which caused an interruption and triggered routing issues with respect to traffic to the mobile DNS.” Yesterday, a new undersea failure on the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable System (SJC), resulted in degradation on international Internet connectivity, was reported to UNN by the SJC consortium.

PremiseScan launched to boost BruHealth reach Borneo Bulletin Online 29th May 2020
PremiseScan, a new application, was launched yesterday to further ensure better accessibility of the BruHealth application to all residents of Brunei Darussalam by giving business premises owners the ability to scan users’ personal QR codes upon entering and exiting the premises. This was announced by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during a press conference at the Al-‘Afiah Hall of the Ministry of Health yesterday. The minister said 233,737 individuals and 3,825 business premises had registered with the BruHealth application showing an encouraging number and strong support in ensuring that the BruHealth application is used successfully.

Plans to widen use of BruHealth app, says minister Borneo Bulletin Online 24th May 2020
It takes time to adapt to changes, including the BruHealth app, which was implemented to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the daily press conference yesterday in view of some businesses failing to paste QR codes at the entrances for customers despite having registered with the app. He added, “Once we have been acquainted with the app, we will widen the use of the QR code to other premises.”

Over 156,000 on BruHealth app Borneo Bulletin Online 20th May 2020
As of May 20, 156,961 individuals have registered as users for the BruHealth app, introduced by the Brunei Government to provide the public with preventive COVID-19 information and advisories. The latest figures in the number of registered users were revealed at the daily press conference yesterday, by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, who also said, “A total of 2,313 businesses and premises have signed up for the application.” Most non-personal registrations have come from restaurants at 1,090 and vendors at 269, followed by schools (191), retail shops (180), gyms (130), food stalls (118), offices (116), salons/barbers (34), government buildings (34), recreational clubs (34), health clinics (24), car workshops (24), shopping malls (18), places of interest (15), markets (12), indoor playgrounds (nine), golf courses (nine), supermarkets (four), hospitals (four), cinemas (four), and places of worship (one). Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham urged more people to download and register with the BruHealth app.

Gov't launches BruHealth contact tracing app The Scoop 14th May 2020
The government rolled out its BruHealth contact tracing app on May 14 following the announcement on easing of COVID-19 restrictions from May 16. Owners of six types of businesses – driving schools, gyms and fitness centres, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, golf courses, restaurants, cafés and food courts as well as stalls and markets – must download the app on Apple’s AppStore or Google Play Store and register before they are allowed to reopen. During a press conference, Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said businesses will be issued a specific QR code, which must be printed and pasted at the entrance of their premises. The minister said 230 vendors have registered for the QR code to date. Within hours of the app being released, there were over 10,000 downloads on Google Play Store. App users, including employees and customers, must scan the QR code every time they enter or leave business premises, allowing authorities to track potential carriers of COVID-19. The app generates a five-color ranking system that denotes whether the user can move freely in the country. Users with green or yellow health codes can enter the premises while those with red, blue and purple health codes will not be granted access to public spaces. YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said app users who turn off their Bluetooth at business premises can be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act. The government partnered with a Chinese company to develop the app, which is also linked to the health ministry’s BruHIMS patient data system and artificial intelligence system. Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said the BruHealth app is different from other contact tracing apps adopted in other countries as it integrates with the health data of patients. The minister added that public participation of 80 percent and above is needed for the app to be effective in containing the COVID-19 outbreak. Addressing privacy concerns with the contact tracing app, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said the government will manage and store all data in Brunei-based servers.

‘WeeLah! Go Bazaar’ launched Borneo Bulletin Online 9th May 2020
In view of COVID-19 outbreak in the country, and in support of local micro small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) digital business, local online marketing company Weelago launched the ‘WeeLah! Go Bazaar’ programme. The initiative was supported by the Authority for Info-communications Technolgy Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI), DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) and Reintegration Division. The program aims to assist local MSMEs and food vendors to promote and sell their products. It also provides opportunities for the Aftercare Services Reintegration Project to re-enter the market. The e-commerce platform will run for three months and include free registration and online expo from May 8 to July 31. Businesses can register and sell footwear, handbags, Raya wear, gadgets, electronic appliances, cakes and dry food. To ensure food safety and hygiene, Weelago will distribute a standard operating procedure on safety and hygiene on packaging for the vendors who will deliver their products at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex and Little Soho as drop-off and pick-up points. Weelago also collaborated with HeyDomo Go as logistic service with minimum charges to deliver food and drink to the customers before the break of fast.

BruHealth app to regulate entry into business premises, sports venues Borneo Bulletin Online 8th May 2020
Brunei Darussalam will introduce an application (app) for regulating entry into business premises or sports venues like gymnasiums, golf courses and restaurants when restrictions are gradually lifted at a time to be decided later. Members of the public can enter business premises through BruHealth by downloading the app and registering. They can also register others. For the app to work properly, the user must turn on Bluetooth when at the premises. Those who provide false details are punishable by law and actions can be taken under Infectious Diseases Act.

Cambodia

Wing and Techo Startup Center partner up to support Kingdom’s tech innovators The Phnom Penh Post 20th May 2020
Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialized Bank and the Techo Startup Center are working together to foster the growth of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises in the Kingdom. The Techo Startup Center was founded in April 2018 with the goal of helping the country develop a full-fledged digital economy. Now, with this tech-driven partnership with Wing, the Techo Startup Center and its members can use the cutting-edge digital payment platform to find new opportunities for innovation. “This partnership reflects our commitment to developing a digital payment foundation for the advancement of Cambodia’s digital startups,” said Dr Nguonly Taing, the executive director of the Techo Startup Center. “Our startup members will also be able to connect and learn from an innovative company such as Wing and reap the benefits of their technical expertise and advice, as well as have access to the digital payment solutions of Wing.” The Techo Startup Center was launched to support entrepreneurs and build on official plans to transform and diversify the economy. Designed to form a bridge between entrepreneurs and other relevant stakeholders, the centre is geared towards providing its members with the tools needed to help the Kingdom adapt to new technological trends and access innovation. “We are delighted that we can use our know-how and our products to support the Techo Startup Center in its vision of nurturing startups to grow into successful businesses,” said Manu Rajan, the CEO of Wing. “We hope that through this partnership Wing will be able to do more to help Cambodian tech entrepreneurs adapt to the Industry 4.0 revolution.”

Cambodia Aims to Replace Dollar with DLT Payment Network in 2020 SuperCryptoNews 13th May 2020
The National Bank of Cambodia is set to launch its nationwide Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Payment Network. Users will be able to transact, send, and receive money instantly on mobile devices via QR codes. On March 11, Serey Chea, the assistant governor and director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia, revealed that the new DLT payment network aims to undermine the dominance of US dollars which is strongly present in the country. The economy of Cambodia is reportedly based almost entirely on US dollars as 90% of day-to-day transactions are carried out in dollars. The central bank is attempting to solve this problem by providing a user-friendly, more practical, and simpler way to pay with Cambodian riels. “One U.S. dollar is equal to 4,000 riels. If you were to spend on something that is worth an equivalent of 10 U.S. dollars then you have to pay 40,000 riels, and then as the value increases there are more zeros. From our survey, that makes life more complicated for many users,” revealed the central banker.   Cambodia has been developing its new payment network for more than four years, and the system is expected to be launched this year. The system is designed to be a unified platform for the bank, customers, and e-wallet providers to interact with each other seamlessly.

Digitalisation said to be good for real estate transactions amid pandemic Khmer Times 11th May 2020
Industry insiders say digitalization has played an important role in real estate business transactions as it struggles under the Coronavirus pandemic. Speaking during a webinar series hosted by realestate.com.kh, Chandy Mann, country head of Juwai IQI Cambodia, said Coronavirus will provide lessons in new ways of doing business, especially in the in real estate market. He said the local market has not yet adapted to ways of closing deals on a digital platform. “I think the way of doing business will see a significant change in the real estate business because we will see transactions done online rather than withtraditional measures,” he said. Edward Liu, general manager of Yi Fung Real Estate Service, said business operations at his company use digital platforms, especially when it comes to doing presentation for customers. Regarding the local market situation in terms of performance of sales, Chandy said there were still few deals closed in the Cambodia market, especially in the condominium segment. Investors closing deals were from Singapore and Malaysia. He added there is still demand for landed housing (boreys) but the condo segment is tough for domestic customers. Both Chandy and Liu agreed that a better economic situation in China will see a positive impact on the Cambodian economy, especially the real estate market. Chandy said: “This is as good sign for Cambodian real estate, especially in the condo segment. According to Juwai, Chinese investors are now looking again at investing in property outside their own country. So, we expect to see those investors to come to Cambodia.” The International Monetary Fund said that rebounds in economic activity in China and major markets in 2021 will improve Cambodia’s growth outlook next year. According to a report from real estate company CBRE, during Q1 2020, the market will continue to see a downward correction in sale prices in the mid-range and high-end condominium segments. The mid-range sale price weakened by 1.4 percent and the high-end sector adjusted downwards by just 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, the affordable segment witnessed an uplift of 0.3 percent, leading average sale prices in this segment to $1,549 per square metre. Throughout Q1, rental values stood relatively stable at approximately $14.2 per square meter for high-end places and $11.8 per square metre for the mid-range supply, a quarter-on-quarter downward adjustment of 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent respectively, in part because of the substantial completions witnessed in Q1.

Indonesia

Malaysia’s Axiata in talks to buy smaller Indonesia telecom rival, says CEO | Malay Mail Malay Mail 23rd May 2020
Malaysian telecommunications company Axiata Group Bhd is in talks to buy a smaller rival in Indonesia in a share-swap deal to cut costs and competition in its biggest market, as Covid-19 hammers businesses, its CEO told Reuters. After PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, Axiata unit PT XL Axiata Tbk is the second-biggest player by subscriber numbers in South-east Asia’s most populous country. Axiata is followed by PT Indosat Tbk, PT Smartfren Telecom Tbk and the local telco unit of Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.

Indonesia planning 10% tax on foreign digital services CNA 18th May 2020
Indonesia will slap a 10 per cent value-added tax on the digital offerings of foreign companies from Jul 1, the finance ministry said, a levy that could apply to internet giants such as Spotify and Netflix. Products and services including video games, music and movie streaming could be subject to the levy, the government said. "The tax for foreign digital products is a part of the government's effort to create a level playing field for all businesses," the tax directorate said in a statement. The move was also aimed at boosting public revenue to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Southeast Asia's biggest economy, it added. Indonesia's fast-growing Internet economy was valued at US$40 billion in 2019 - a figure estimated to more than triple by 2025 - according to a study by Google and Singapore sovereign investment fund Temasek. Tech companies often pay little tax in countries where they are not physically present International efforts have dragged on to find a new model for taxing revenues earned via online sales and advertising, but Washington said targeted taxes single out US companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix. In response to a levy on revenues earned by tech companies in France, Washington threatened retaliatory duties of up to 100 per cent on French imports such as champagne and camembert cheese.

COVID-19 cyberthreats should prompt Indonesia to step up vigilance, watchdog says The Jakarta Post 13th May 2020
COVID-19 is not the only threat Indonesia is currently facing -- cyberattacks are also on the rise, as hackers to exploit Indonesia’s digital security vulnerabilities during the outbreak. The pandemic creates a perfect chance for hackers to hack into networks as companies and office workers shift to online platforms to work remotely and new users dive into Indonesia’s cyberspace, Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) deputy director Wahyudi Djafar warned. “The scope of cyberattacks is large as they don’t merely cause economic losses but also disrupt important infrastructure used for communication,” he said on May 11. His concerns are set against the backdrop of two recent cyberattacks in Indonesia, namely the “Zoombombing” of lewd images that disrupted a National ICT Council (Wantiknas) webinar and the data breach of 15 million users of the homegrown e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia. Wahyudi also warned that sensitive health data on COVID-19 might be prone to cyberattacks, with the government lacking transparency on who can access the data and how it is preventing illegal access to such data. In 2017, a ransomware called WannaCry rendered patients’ online information inaccessible in Jakarta’s Dharmais and Harapan Kita hospitals. Indonesia’s prevailing regulations are “far from enough” to face the storm of cyberattacks during the pandemic, with provisions failing to stipulate consumers’ rights in case of a cyberattack, Wahyudi said. He, therefore, called on the government to optimize the use of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE) and other relevant regulations to act against cybercrimes pending a deliberation of the long-awaited data protection bill at the House of Representatives. Platform providers should also educate their consumers about how to use their applications safely, Wahyudi said. While digital usage in Indonesia is among the highest in the world, digital literacy is still relatively low, Communications and Information Ministry Director-General of Information Applications Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan said in a statement on Feb. 28.

Indonesian Smartphone Market Takes Huge Hit From Pandemic Jakarta Globe 27th May 2020
According to the latest data from market research firm International Data Corporation, or IDC, smartphone shipment to Indonesia reached 7.5 million units in the first quarter of 2020, down 24.1 percent from the previous quarter. The IDC said the decline was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which began to affect the market in the last few weeks of the quarter.

National Data Center expected to be established this year Antara News 25th May 2020
The National Data Center that will integrate government data with a multi-layered security system is expected to be created this year, Director General of Informatics Applications, the Communication and Informatics Ministry, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan stated. "We are making preparations to establish the National Data Center. The minister has sent a letter to the (finance) minister and the minister of Bappenas (National Development Planning) for its acceleration. We are upbeat about completing the preparations this year and commencing its creation," Pangerapan remarked here on Sunday.

Government trials facial recognition system to improve social aid disbursement The Jakarta Post 22nd May 2020
The government has tried out a facial recognition verification system to make it easier for recipients to claim social assistance. The National Team for Accelerated Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) said that its trial of the system to disburse subsidized household gas, staple food assistance and subsidized electricity last year had an average success rate of 85.2 percent. The trials were conducted in cooperation with e-wallet platform LinkAja in three regions, namely Madiun in East Java, Sleman in Central Java and North Penajam Passer in East Kalimantan.

Digital companies should adopt ISO cyber security standard, say IT experts The Jakarta Post 22nd May 2020
Calls for digital companies to implement stronger data protection measures are growing following recent reports of a data breach against Indonesia’s e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia. Experts have argued that the data protection bill, which is currently being debated at the House of Representatives (DPR), should set a minimum-security standard for digital companies, as the current regulation does not stipulate the technicalities of data protection. “If we take a look at Government Regulation (PP) No.71, the government did not regulate the technicalities of data protection,” IT expert Tony Seno Hartono said in an online discussion on April 20, referring to PP No.71/2019 on the implementation of electronic systems and transactions.

From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19 The Jakarta Post 20th May 2020
The National Research and Innovation Agency’s (BRIN) COVID-19 research consortium launched nine new inventions to support Indonesia’s advanced pandemic countermeasure on Wednesday. Research and Technology Minister and BRIN head Bambang Brodjonegoro said he hoped the new products would become the nation’s templates in terms of medical innovation.

Online Shopping; Govt Pushing for Digitization of MSMEs Tempo 20th May 2020
Minister for Cooperatives and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Teten Masduki, has called for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to anticipate changes in the market condition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to a change in public attitude, consumers who would previously go shopping in conventional markets will now prefer to shop online. "In advance, Pak Jokowi (President Joko Widodo) gave me directions to accelerate the online transition (of MSMEs)," Teten said during a webinar, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

COVID-19-free hospital letters offered on e-commerce platforms The Jakarta Post 15th May 2020
Hospital letters declaring the holder COVID-19-free is being offered on a number of e-commerce platforms for people hoping to travel amid the mudik (exodus) ban. The document includes the letterhead and stamp of hospital operator Mitra Keluarga, complete with a blurred signature of a general practitioner and a watermark of a blocked website address. Screenshots making the rounds on social media showed the letter was being sold for between Rp 70,000 (US$4.70) and Rp 39 million per copy. The offering went viral amid news of a packed Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, where passengers lined up to get their required travel documents checked by airport authorities, including negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, rapid test results or health documents from a hospital or clinic, to proceed to their flights. Mitra Keluarga denied having issued the letters.Tokopedia external communications senior lead Ekhel Chandra Wijaya said no letters had been purchased on the platform before it took down both the product and the merchant. He urged e-commerce users to report products that violate Tokopedia’s terms and conditions or applicable Indonesian laws through available features on the digital platform.

'Our data is secure': Bukalapak denies reports of user data breach The Jakarta Post 8th May 2020
Homegrown e-commerce platform Bukapalak has denied reports that the data of millions of its users were compromised and sold on the dark web, only days after e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia was reported to have faced an internal system breach. “After an internal investigation, we found that the reports currently circulating were sourced from a data breach attempt last year. There have been no new incidents,” said Bukalapak corporate communication head Intan Wibisono. She said the company monitored and recorded the people who accessed, read, replaced, or deleted its data. Bukalapak stores sensitive data, such as citizen ID cards (KTP), in a special form of storage in which data is automatically deleted to protect the users’ privacy, she added.

Laos

Women running Southeast Asia's small businesses get digital lifeline The Japan Times 14th May 2020
Millions of small businesswomen in Southeast Asia are keen to earn but feel locked out of a digital revolution that has mostly helped young men in cities. “I don’t know how to use Facebook to attract more customers. It was a real headache,” a 39-year-old mother said by phone from Vinh Phuc province, near the capital of Hanoi. Now help is at hand, offering hope of a way through the crisis and laying the foundations for better business beyond. The coronavirus pandemic has threatened businesses around the globe, but the lack of digital know-how has exacerbated the risk for small businesses, many led by women in Southeast Asia. Although lockdowns have eased in many cities, experts said continued social distancing would push more businesses online, highlighting a need for digital skills among vulnerable groups. The $3.3-million program starts next month and is funded by Google. Most trainees are women and young entrepreneurs, spanning 10 countries including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. “The importance of digital literacy has never been greater,” said Marija Ralic from Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the U.S. tech giant, which gives more than $100 million in grants each year to support innovation and technology. “We know the current outbreak has left many businesses in vulnerable situations, especially those in rural and underserved communities,” said the head of its Asia-Pacific office. Training covers a host of skills, be it how to pin a business site on a map, use chat messaging or beef up security. The Asia Foundation, a U.S.-based charity that runs the training, said the region’s most connected citizens were urban men and it was important to ensure women were not left behind. Boys are 1.5 times more likely to own a phone than girls and the proportion of women using the internet globally is 48 percent against 58 percent of men, according to the United Nations. Yet U.N. data shows there are more than 61 million women entrepreneurs who own and run businesses across Southeast Asia. “They often don’t get as many opportunities,” Meloney Lindberg, who leads the initiative at the charity, said by phone from Cambodia. “What we are doing is to bring the opportunity to their neighborhood.”

Website assures easier access to business in Laos, says Investment MInistry The Star Online 31st May 2020
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has launched a new version of its website, making it easier for investors to access important economic and business information. The website www.investlao.gov.la, which is administered by the ministry’s Investment Promotion Department, provides essential and comprehensive information needed by investors to start a business in Laos.

Lao satellite to transmit TV, radio programmes Vientiane Times 28th May 2020
The Department of Mass Media of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism has signed an agreement with Lao Asia-Pacific Satellite Co., Ltd. to broadcast its Lao National Television Channel 1 and National Radio on AM and FM frequencies using the Lao Sat-1 satellite. The agreement runs from April 1, 2020 to December 2024. Under the agreement, Lao Sat-1 will transmit the agreed television and radio channels through the satellite station at Km52 in Nalao village, Phonhong district, Vientiane province, and a station at Km14 in Nahai village, Hadxaifong district, Vientiane.

Malaysia

E-commerce set to boom in Malaysia www.thesundaily.my 20th May 2020
The rise of e-commerce is certain especially with the new normal after the movement control order (MCO) because people now trust such platforms and websites to conduct businesses, said an e-commerce expert. Commerce Asia founder and executive chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah said the MCO has made average Malaysians who usually do not shop online realize that e-commerce is convenient and easy to use. With more people working from home, they are switching to buying their items online, he added. “If we go back to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003 in Hong Kong and China, that was when Alibaba and other tech companies really started to grow because people just have no option to shop but through online,” Ganesh told theSun yesterday. “But with the MCO, what happened in Hong Kong and China will happen in Malaysia, where retailers and grocers find that they got a better advantage switching to e-commerce.” He said brick-and-mortar shops will still exist as they still generate a certain amount of revenue, but it is slowly being overtaken by online sales. Ganesh said businesses should not hastily transition to e-commerce without looking for their product market fit, which is finding a niche in the sea of competitors online. “They need to invest in marketing and finding their unique selling point. It is not as simple as setting up a store and waiting for customers to come in, he said.

China eyeing Malaysian companies to expand 5G tech NST Online 19th May 2020
A giant telecommunications group from China is betting on Malaysia to expand its fifth generation (5G) technology and is eyeing several companies here to help build the network. Sources said the Chinese group was investing billions of ringgit on 5G technology this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. "They are seeking partners with 5G capabilities and have targeted a few companies here. They hope to start talks post-movement control order," said a source. It is understood that the group was looking at Green Packet Bhd and XOX Bhd, which are 5G-ready. Green Packet's shares rose to a new multiple-year high on May 17, gaining as much as 23 sen or 19.01 per cent to RM1.41- a level last seen in 2010. XOX, which has about RM35 million cash on hand, currently offers the most competitive and innovative 4G data plan, and is focusing to build 5G infrastructure in the region. The company's shares surged 11.11 per cent amid active trading on Friday to close at five sen, giving it a market capitalisation of RM54.62 million. The counter increased one sen with 154 million shares traded. Early this year, XOX partnered with Advance Tech Communication Sdn Bhd (ATC) to launch 4G and 5G smartphones, with additional satellite communication capabilities termed XPLORE. XOX will be the first telco to market and distribute the products to its users across Southeast Asia. Its executive director Steve Tan has said that the company aimed to provide a unified network plan by integrating XOX's prepaid plans and messaging platform with ATC's extensive satellite emergency services. "XOX is a good target for investors. XOX is ranked fifth in the telecom sector and is the number one MVNO company in Malaysia with current customer base reaching almost three million, including prepaid and post paid mobile phone users. "The stock is relatively very cheap. It is currently the cheapest telecom stock on the local bourse and has potential upside," the source said.

MDEC, Coursera launch 'let's learn digital' campaign The Edge Markets 18th May 2020
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has forged a partnership with global online learning platform, Coursera, to introduce 'Let's Learn Digital' under the #mydigitalworkforce initiative. MDEC vice president, digital talent development division, Dr Sumitra Nair said the objective of #mydigitalworkforce initiative was to enable the workforce to adapt themselves after the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, in line with the organization's role of spearheading the digital economy to a higher level through improvement in digital skills of the people. She said through the campaign, MDEC was encouraging the concept of lifelong learning via e-learning approach under its three main pillars, namely digitally skilling Malaysians, digitally powering businesses and attracting digital investments. "MDEC is focusing on the future of the local workforce and understand that the economy that is set to recovery post-Covid-19 pandemic is one that is reliant on digitalisation," she said in a statement today. To this end, MDEC has implemented proactive actions in preparing opportunities for the people who are interested in increasing their digital skills, and this programme has also received the cooperation from well-known global industry players which were successful in their respective programs previously. Besides that, through Coursera Workforce Recovery initiative, a total of 3,800 courses are provided through applications managed by the teaching staff from universities and renowned industry players. "Participants also have the opportunity to receive Professional Training Certificate involved in sectors and fields that are in high demand. The access is offered without limits till Dec 31, 2020," she said. Among the courses offered are Google IT Automation with Python, SAS Programmer, and Intel Introduction to Deep Learning, as well as career paths that can be accessed by students such as data analyst, cloud architect and software developer. Meanwhile, Coursera chief enterprise officer Leah Belsky said the objective of the cooperation was also to provide workers access to digital skills courses that are in high demand and subsequently support them in swift return to the workforce and new careers.

Minister makes U-turn, cancels 700MHz spectrum awards to TM, DiGi, Maxis, Altel and Axiata The Edge Markets 3rd Jun 2020
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has canceled his order to award portions of the 700 megahertz (MHz) band to DiGi.Com Bhd, Maxis Bhd, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Altel Communications Sdn Bhd and Axiata Group Bhd. In a statement today, the minister said 18 instruments including ministerial orders and findings regarding the usage of spectrum frequencies in the 700MHz, 900MHz, and 2600MHz had been presented to him. “Based on technical issues, laws, and the need to follow a clear process, I have ordered the chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to cancel the above orders and findings and to reevaluate the instruments with immediate haste,” said Saifuddin in the statement. Meanwhile, he noted that the government through the ministry was committed to the aim of developing the country by giving the best service in technology and telecommunications, achieving high-speed internet and ICT services of the highest quality.

Online business set to stay post-COVID-19 The Edge Markets 30th May 2020
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) expects the change in behaviour of consumers and local traders from conventional methods to online business concept will be maintained even after COVID-19 ends. Its chief executive officer, Surina Shukri, said the main players in the e-commerce sector would leverage on digital capability to increase their presence offline, and thereby further expanding their e-commerce ecosystem. "Digital transformation will move fast. Businesses, meanwhile, have taken proactive steps to participate in e-commerce to survive," she told Bernama.   Surina said MDEC would continue its commitment to expedite the adaptation of e-commerce among the local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises through eUsahawan and Go-eCommerce programs, thus cultivating the people toward digital skills in an effort to make Malaysia the heart of digital ASEAN. She added that since the eUsahawan program was introduced in 2015, MDEC had trained more than 330,000 micro-entrepreneurs till 2019, and this year alone, some 26,000 micro-entrepreneurs have been trained.

Business premises must abide by procedures in handling personal data The Edge Markets 30th May 2020
All business premises allowed to operate during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) must comply fully with operating procedures with regards to the collection, processing and storing of personal data, as set by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM). KKMM in a statement today said the standard procedures had been approved in a special Ministerial committee meeting on the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on May 21. According to the statement, only the customer’s or visitor’s name, contact number, date and time of visit, should be recorded and it is up to the premises owners to implement either manual or electronic recording. In addition, a notice must be displayed and easily seen to inform visitors or customers on the purpose of the personal data and that the data is used only for the purpose of contact tracing in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342). The business premises must also ensure that the data obtained are accurate, complete and not misleading and the information could only be kept up to six months after the Conditional MCO ends, after which all data must be destroyed and deleted. Non-compliance of the procedures is an offence, and if convicted, premises owners could be fined up to RM300,000 or jailed for two years or both, under the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (Act 7090.

Faster Malaysia-Singapore entry permit vetting during MCO with myPASS Malay Mail 29th May 2020
The Malaysian Entry Permit Application System (myPASS), a new dedicated web-based application system, is expected to deliver faster and easier processing of entry permit applications by eligible travelers from Singapore to Malaysia during the movement control order (MCO). In a joint statement here today, the High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) said prior to myPASS, the High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore received around 30,000 applications through email, which resulted in the decision to transform the entry permit application process through better use of technology. “The main benefit of myPASS is that travelers can submit their entry permit applications through a much more structured and guided process. As such, there is little error in the information and documents submitted and this has helped 80 percent of travelers get their entry permit applications processed within two days with a 95 percent reduction in rejected applications,” read the statement. Apart from that, myPASS, which is accessible via a dedicated site also meant that their submissions were much more secured and the guided form reduces errors in their applications which led to faster processing time.

Govt to boost digital connectivity to revive economy: Saifuddin www.thesundaily.my 27th May 2020
igital connectivity is a vital aspect in the daily lives of the people, more so when the country is facing the threat of Covid-19 pandemic. Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pix) in a statement today said good and comprehensive digital connectivity is not only facilitating the people in their daily activities but it is critical to revive the country’s economy.

Ministry: Special task force to discuss internet access, quality and telco charges | Malay Mail Malay Mail 13th May 2020
The special task force on Digital Malaysia, chaired by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), will hold discussions on Internet access and quality as well as charges imposed by telecommunication companies following increased Internet usage during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said Covid-19 had taught a lot of lessons, among them being that there were still areas with slower Internet connection or the quality was still not at its best.

Data from Covid-19 app MyTrace kept on phone, not govt servers, says Khairy The Star Online 8th May 2020
Data collected by the MyTrace application used for Covid-19 contact tracing is kept only on the phone and not on government servers, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic). The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister (Mosti) said the authorities would be publishing the source code for the application soon so that people could see for themselves. MyTrace is a contact tracing app that uses Bluetooth to measure how long a user’s phone has been in proximity to other MyTrace users. If a MyTrace user is diagnosed with Covid-19, this would allow the government to track and contact those who might have contracted it from them. The data stays on the phone for 21 days. The application only works if the user’s Bluetooth is turned on.

Myanmar

Asia Digest: Dakota Ventures to invest $1m in Myanmar; Vietnam's FoodHub raises funding DealStreetAsia 20th May 2020
Dakota Ventures, a Myanmar-focused Southeast Asian asset management company, plans to invest $1 million in synergistic and millennial-focused startups in the Burmese market. The firm, which operates Kaplan Myanmar University College and Gohanya, a central kitchen for Japanese cuisine catering in Yangon, said it will continue to identify investment opportunities in education, consumer and infrastructure projects in the region. Despite being a nascent tech market, Myanmar has also seen the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of accelerating digital adoption, especially amongst the young millennial generation who are turning to online lessons, streaming content and mobile gaming during the lockdown period. In addition to education and food distribution, Dakota Ventures has also invested in F&B equipment and solutions as well as eSports. Dakota Ventures added it aimed to leverage digital innovation to rejuvenate traditional businesses, helping foreign companies “invest safely in the fast-growing Myanmar market, with clear exit pathways.” The firm has also sealed a strategic partnership with Israeli-headquartered cybersecurity firm Cybint to establish what it claims would be “Myanmar’s first-ever cyber training centre.” “With more essential services going digital, cybersecurity takes on a bigger importance in safeguarding vital operations,” opined Daryl Teo, managing director of Dakota Ventures. The facility will begin construction in June 2020 and targets to provide 500 certified cyber professionals by the end of 2022, before scaling up to 10,000 digital specialists by 2025. In addition, Dakota Ventures will join forces with the Financial Planner Association of Singapore to conduct flagship certified financial planner (CFP) courses in Myanmar for agents and managers.

Alibaba fintech arm invests $73m in Myanmar's Digital Money Nikkei Asian Review 18th May 2020
The Chinese company behind the Alipay smartphone payment system said on May 18 that it will take a stake in Digital Money Myanmar to cater to the underbanked communities in the developing Southeast Asian nation. Ant Financial Services Group, which is under the umbrella of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, will bring its Alipay technologies and business expertise to Myanmar, where the digital payment market is expected to grow. "Myanmar's population is still massively underserved by formal banking institutions with only a quarter of people having a bank account," said Melvyn Pun, CEO of Yoma Strategic Holdings. "Ant Group brings a wealth of expertise in mobile payment and financial services." Ant Financial will invest $73.5 million in Digital Money Myanmar, a joint venture between local conglomerate Yoma Group and major Norwegian mobile carrier Telenor Group. Although Ant Financial's stake after acquiring new shares has not been disclosed, a source said that the "three parties will have similar shareholdings." Digital Money Myanmar launched Wave Money in 2016, becoming a pioneer in the field. To use the service, a person who wants to send money brings cash and the phone number of the recipient to a participating store. Recipients receive notifications on their phones and go to a nearby participating store to receive the money. Wave Money succeeded in capturing demand of laborers working in cities to send money back home to rural areas, with transfer volume reaching 6.4 trillion kyat ($4.3 billion) in 2019. Through the partnership, Digital Money Myanmar hopes to grow Wave Money from a simple remittance service to a widely used digital payment platform. Few people currently use Wave Money's smartphone app to make payments from their accounts using QR Codes or to pay utility bills. Digital Money Myanmar will tap Ant Financial's know-how to increase usage by introducing new services. Alipay offers a wide range of services, such as using consumers' purchase history to determine credit scores.

Myanmar operators to block access to more websites, domains, IP addresses Telecompaper 21st May 2020
Telenor Myanmar, along with all other mobile operators in Myanmar, has announced it has received a directive from the Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD) to block access to 3 websites, 6 domains and 2 IP addresses. The measure is designed to block the use of "hate speech", as well as protect against cyber-attacks and data theft.

Philippines

Philippines may soon tax Netflix, other digital platforms philstar.com 20th May 2020
The government of the Philippines is determining how to tax apps and social media networks, including the popular streaming service Netflix, which have not been on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)’s list of taxpayers. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House of Representatives’ ways and means committee, said his House Bill 6765, the digital economy taxation bill, aims to raise about P29.1 billion in new revenues to help the country cope with the pandemic. The former chief of the National Economic and Development Authority said the measure would “capture the value created by the digital economy better in the country’s tax system, plugging loopholes due to ambiguities in what kind of taxes digital services are liable to.” HB 6765 is estimated to yield as much as P29.1 billion annually in incremental revenues. Salceda noted that internet marketplaces, like Lazada and Shopee, are growing very rapidly due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but there may be issues of tax compliance among its partners, too. As the Philippines’ shift toward digitalization continues to accelerate due to the imposition of community quarantine measures brought about by COVID-19, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. is eyeing the rapid growth of the digital economy as an opportunity for the government to increase its income to be used for providing services for all Filipinos affected by the pandemic. Revilla filed Resolution 410 urging the Senate’s ways and means committee and the appropriate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the possibility of collecting taxes from multinational online streaming services and the digital economy in general.

Filipino mobile subscriptions set to witness ‘moderate growth’ in 2020 Channel Asia 20th May 2020
The highly saturated mobile telecom market in the Philippines is forecast to witness moderate growth in the percentage of mobile subscriptions in 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to new GlobalData findings. The percentage of mobile subscriptions growth will be less in 2020 as almost half of the country’s population will be staying indoors and also the temporary shutdown of businesses and travel restrictions will result in fewer SIM sales. Moreover, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the economy, negatively affecting income and new phone sales. But there is opportunity for telecommunications providers to generate revenue through mobile data and fixed broadband plans during the lockdown period. For example, PLDT witnessed an increase in their fixed lines data traffic of 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the first week of community quarantine. The rise in mobile data usage along with an increase in voice calls and text messages were also witnessed by the operator. Telco operators in the Philippines are taking effective steps to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and provide essential support to their customers both on new offers and services and also on network coverage. PLDT and Globe have taken certain steps to cater to the increasing internet and data demand during the 30-day lockdown period. For its fibre broadband subscribers, PLDT is offering free ‘speed boost’, providing a minimum Internet connection speeds of 25 Mbps. PLDT's mobile arm, Smart, is also offering free access to official websites such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the Philippine Information Agency. Moreover, to equip medical front-liners with reliable data connectivity, Smart is providing free, fast, and 24/7 Smart Wi-Fi to newly-activated Covid-19 facilities. We expect the overall telecom service revenue to witness a slight decline in 2020 over 2019 owing to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and a weaker economic outlook. However, the revenue will return to growth in 2021, driven by rising demand in consumer fixed and mobile broadband services.

COVID-19 accelerates digital adoption in PH Inquirer.net 20th May 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic, people all over the world sought to bring a semblance of normalcy in their lives. Filipinos are no different and have looked towards technology to bridge the gap between how things were versus what they are now. The ECQ and travel restrictions thrust the internet and digital applications into the forefront of the average Filipino. We have seen an accelerated adoption of critical applications that would allow people to enjoy things that can be easily taken for granted – a favorite dish, a hobby, a wanted toy, or just the simple joy of being connected to a friend. In the recent Digital 2020 April Statshot report of Hootsuite and We Are Social, the Philippines showed increased reliance on the internet as a means to cope and to safely shop for essentials. 64% of Filipino internet users reported spending more time on social media, while 23% of users shared that they are spending more time shopping online. Now Globe is doing the same thing for its customers, pushing various digital applications including digital payments for easier and more convenient ways to do transactions. Whether paying bills, buying load, looking up data usage or pulling up a monthly statement, all these are served up through Globe’s mobile apps – the Globe One and TM app for mobile users and the Globe At Home app for broadband users. There’s also the Globe Rewards app so customers can redeem their loyalty points through several partner merchants or services. So far, customers are embracing the new ways of doing things as seen by the increasing daily app downloads since the start of the quarantine period. As more companies, whether big or small enterprises pivot towards work from home arrangements, there will be a significant reliance on internet access and e-commerce to keep businesses afloat.

Philippine home services company GoodWork raises $1.6m Nikkei Asian Review 18th May 2020
Philippine home services e-commerce platform GoodWork has raised $1.6 million in seed funding, led by California-based venture capital fund Chaac Ventures, according to an announcement. The round also saw participation from investors Elysium Venture Capital and Kairos K50, and angel investors from Facebook and Snapchat. GoodWork was founded in October 2018 by Andrew Koger, who previously ran Lazada's fulfillment operations in the Philippines. The company plans to use the cash to expand its business across Southeast Asia. It offers an array of home services ranging from cleaning, laundry delivery, air conditioner cleaning and home repairs, to health and beauty services such as manicures and pedicures. The company says it handled more than 10,000 jobs a month in its first year, with more than 70% of daily bookings coming from repeat customers. "We are excited to lead GoodWork's seed round and we are looking forward to providing all of Southeast Asia with services that will improve people's day-to-day lives," said Luke Armour, Chaac Ventures founder and CEO. Chaac Ventures is a seed venture capital fund focused primarily on technology businesses founded by Princeton University alumni. Its investments are modest, ranging in size from $100,000 to $1 million.

DoF awaiting international consensus on digital services tax Business World 3rd Jun 2020
THE Department of Finance (DoF) said it will propose a tax on digital services provided by online platforms once an international consensus emerges on how to tax the industry. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the DoF continues to monitor developments overseas, where countries have started to impose such taxesHe noted that even countries that have opted to tax the industry have not yet agreed how “to reallocate income taxation rights on cross-border digital transactions.”“Once an international agreement is reached, we will immediately study and propose tax reforms to capture income tax on cross-border digital transactions,” he said. The US government recently launched an inquiry on digital services taxes imposed or considered by the UK, Italy and Brazil, on international digital platforms such as Google and Facebook, Reuters reported Wednesday. US President Donald Trump reportedly raised concerns that these cross-border taxation schemes “unfairly” target US technology companies.

Go digital, Neda chief tells businessmen BusinessMirror 1st Jun 2020
AS quarantine restrictions nationwide are eased, the government has advised firms to relocate much of their products and services to digital platforms in anticipation of a rise in e-commerce transactions under the so-called new normal. Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua on Monday said e-commerce will likely play a larger role for businesses and consumers under the new normal. He argued its feature of cashless payment makes it viable at a time people are directed to avoid physical and social contact to prevent the spread of the virus. “Online shopping and marketing platforms will play bigger role in the new normal as businesses and consumers increase the use of electronic transactions, including cashless payment systems and other financial technology platforms,” Chua said in a news statement.

‘RJ’ Jacinto replaces Rio as DICT’s undersecretary for operations BusinessMirror 27th May 2020
RAMON P. Jacinto, a presidential adviser, has replaced resigned Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary for Operations Eliseo M. Rio Jr. He promised to focus on developing policies that will enable more Filipinos to be connected to the Internet. In a text message, Jacinto, a known musician and businessman, confirmed his appointment and thanked President Duterte for his appointment. He said he will be putting premium on three key areas, namely, common towers, free Wi-Fi, and the national broadband backbone.

Up to P5-M grant for researches, technologies under 'new normal' Philippines Information Agency 25th May 2020
Up to PHP5-million grant is at stake for researches and technologies that would help the economy adapt to the "new normal" after the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced Monday. Researchers from the academe, research, and development (R&D) institutions, as well as Filipino private companies, are invited to send proposals to the DOST under the agency's CRADLE (Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy) Challenge. In a virtual presser, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said under the CRADLE Challenge, researchers would collaborate and formulate scientific and technical solutions that would shape the "new normal" for businesses.

Lawmaker bats for e-government system philstar.com 25th May 2020
The government, from the national down to local levels, has to keep up or at least cope with the long-time digitization systems of private businesses that have now been highlighted by the global public health emergency crisis, according to a bill filed by Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur. House Bill 1248 aims to develop, promote and interlink electronic government services and processes in all state agencies and corporations.

Gov’t to use ICT tools to combat hunger amid pandemic —Nograles GMA News Online 24th May 2020
The government will use information and communications technology (ICT) tools in efforts to combat hunger after a survey found that some 4.2 million Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Sunday. Nograles said the Supply Chain Analytics (SCAN) dashboard and other similar tools being used by the government against COVID-19 may also be used by bodies such as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger.

DepEd urges donors to provide schoolkids with gadgets for distance learning GMA News Online 21st May 2020
Instead of school supplies, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday encouraged donors to provide gadgets that students can use for distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing a survey conducted by the DepEd, the Cabinet official said that many teachers in the country have their own laptops and desktops. Out of the poll's 788,000 teacher respondents, 687,000 said they have those gadgets, Briones said.

ICT department backs NEDA, says PHL needs to transition to digital economy Eagle News 21st May 2020
The Department of Information and Communications Technology backed the National Economic Development Authority’s statement there was a need to transition into a “digital economy” to better adapt to the “new normal.” “We are optimistic that the transition of the Philippines to a digital economy will make the country’s economy more resilient to external factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.” the department secretary Gregorio Honasan said. According to Honasan, under the banner of a Digital Philippines, the department was “employing a holistic approach towards digitalization, focusing on connectivity, cybersecurity and digital literacy. ”

BPOs face uncertain post-pandemic future Business World 8th May 2020
THE business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is looking at an uncertain future where large global corporations either re-shore jobs or diversify their outsourcing destinations in response to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on business. In the Philippines, the outsourcing industry is expected to lose clients to other countries with stronger internet infrastructure that can support work-from-home (WFH) programs. “Different countries have handled the pandemic very differently, and some have suffered a lot more than others. So I think that will prompt some of the large companies to take a more balanced approach to their location strategy and perhaps not put all their eggs in one basket,” Matchboard Managing Director Sharon Melamed said in a Zoom interview. Matchboard is an Australia-based outsourcing matching service.

Forced closure of ABS-CBN may hurt investor confidence Business World 8th May 2020
The Makati Business Club (MBC), Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines, Inc. issued a joint statement expressing concern over the forced shutdown of ABS-CBN’s television and radio stations, saying it is a blow to press freedom, which is a pillar of democratic societies. MBC and MAP both called on Congress to act on the pending bills seeking to renew the network’s franchise, which expired on May 4.

PLDT studies 5G delay as pandemic disrupts supply chain Business World 8th May 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is pushing PLDT Inc. to delay the launching of its fifth-generation (5G) network services, Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio of the Pangilinan-led telecommunications company said. On Thursday, the telecommunications company said the capital spending for this year would probably be cut by 24% to P63 billion from the planned P83 billion as movement and travel restrictions under the government-imposed enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) hamper its network rollout activities. Technology firm Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) earlier said the rollout of 5G network services in the Philippines could increase the annual revenues of telecommunications companies by as much as $650 million beginning 2025. Cisco said 5G penetration in countries in Southeast Asia is expected to reach 25% to 40% by 2025.

Singapore

Libra adds Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek Ledger Insights - enterprise blockchain 15th May 2020
The Libra Association announced that Temasek, Paradigm, and Slow Ventures joined as members. The Association governs the digital currency and payments network of Libra, the blockchain platform founded by Facebook. While Libra previously lost heavyweight members such as Visa, Mastercard, eBay, and Paypal, with the addition of the three new entities, the Association now has 27 members.  Temasek is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund with more than $230 billion in assets as of March 2019. It’s been active in the blockchain and digital payments space. A few months ago, Temasek, along with JPMorgan and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), completed a blockchain trial for multi-currency payments. The company is also working with HSBC Singapore and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on a blockchain project to service fixed income securities. Meanwhile, Temasek’s investment arm Heliconia Capital has a stake in iSTOX, the blockchain capital markets platform.  In March, Antony Lewis joined Temasek as Associate Director for blockchain venture building. He was previously Director of Research at R3 and advised on money issued as tokens before venturing into digital assets. Temasek is also an R3 investor. One interesting angle. The Chinese government finds Libra concerning and it has accelerated its own roll out of central bank digital currency. Singapore and China are important trading partners and China represents more than a quarter of Temasek’s investments. The other two members, Paradigm and Slow Ventures, are investment firms that Libra believes would fuel the development of the blockchain and digital assets market. Slow Ventures is a backer of tech solutions Slack, Postmates, and Airtable. Last month Libra announced significant changes to its plans and released another whitepaper in a bid to woo regulators. And earlier this month, the Libra Association appointed Stuart Levey as the CEO. Levey has a strong compliance record and worked as Chief Legal Officer at HSBC Holdings.  Meanwhile, some other new members who have joined Libra Association over the past year include Heifer International, Checkout.com, Shopify, and Tagomi. 

DBS joins blockchain trade-finance platform Contour's network The Straits Times 12th May 2020
DBS Bank has joined Contour's network, which is built on R3's Corda and digitalises global trade processes such as the creation, exchange, approval and issuance of letters of credit (LCs). It is the first Singapore bank to do so, ahead of the blockchain-based platform's full launch later this year, DBS said on May 11. Other banks in the network include BNP Paribas, Bangkok Bank, ING, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citi Ventures, according to the website of Singapore-based Contour. The move will enable DBS to tap Contour's digital solutions to provide a fully digital end-to-end LC settlement process for its customers, including the transfer of electronic trade and title documents. This will help shorten the settlement time, reduce paperwork and simplify complex trade processes. Corporate customers can also conduct digital pre-issuance negotiations between applicant and beneficiary in real time, and share this with the bank post-endorsement for issuing of the LCs. This increases the accuracy of LCs issued and in the event of discrepancies helps hasten resolution, DBS said. In addition, there will be real-time tracking of transactions on the platform along with a full audit trail, resulting in greater transparency. The demand for contactless banking amid the Covid-19 crisis also makes digitalising trade processes an increasingly relevant and heightened priority. Contour's chief executive Carl Wegner said that as more financial institutions join the beta network, it will be able to "showcase the full potential" a blockchain solution can offer to trade finance. Mr John Laurens, group head of global transaction services at DBS, said the move will transform the way industries work by providing greater transparency, security and speed to build sustainable trade ecosystems that are resilient in times of crisis.

IBM, Samsung, M1 team up on 5G smart manufacturing trial in Singapore Tech Wire Asia 11th May 2020
Just a week after gaining one of two licenses to build 5G networks in Singapore in partnership with Starhub, Singaporean telecommunications provider M1 has announced a joint smart manufacturing trial with IBM and Samsung that promises to leverage 5G connectivity. The Industry 4.0 pilot project is expected to begin next month at Changi Business Park, and is slated to explore ways of leveraging 5G to improve upon the control of robotic arms and other connected devices on the factory floor. In addition to faster connections and lower latencies, 5G networking promises to connect up to 1,000 times more devices than current networks like 4G. The trial will test 5G speeds to transmit signals to robotic arms and production lines to see if it can be done without any lag. Video analytics and augmented reality (AR) 3D modeling applications used to monitor devices’ status on the shop floor will also be trialed, promising a much more diverse range of internet of things (IoT) enabled devices being put to the test in an Industry 4.0 trial in Singapore. With 5G, it looks like responses between connected devices such as cameras and the central server will be nearly instantaneous, providing real-time feedback unlike 4G or even Wi-Fi. Conventional commercial applications of 5G put its average speed at about 20 times more than what 4G networks presently offer. IBM and Samsung are already partnering on 5G projects globally, and if the Singapore Industry 4.0 trials are successful, the project could see eventual application in other smart manufacturing collaborations elsewhere. IBM Singapore managing director Martin Chee believes that the project will help strengthen Singapore’s standing as a leading industrial innovation hub in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. The telecommunications sector’s regulator, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)– who granted the M1-Starhub joint venture one of the two nationwide 5G licenses to begin with– had established a S$40 million development grant with the National Research Foundation last year, to incentivize 5G-enabled projects in six sectors including smart manufacturing, a key growth area as manufacturing accounted for 20.9 percent of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.

More than 2,000 Singapore SMEs, heartland retailers to benefit from new e-commerce solution The Business Times 11th May 2020
A new mobile commerce solution in Singapore will help more than 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) set up their own virtual store and have access to a wide network of customers. The initiative, which aims to help SMEs such as heartland merchants deal with challenges in the retail landscape amid the Covid-19 pandemic, was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat during a webinar on May 11. Jointly developed by Nanyang Polytechnic's Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS), payment services group Nets and tech firm SCash, the initiative is supported by Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The mobile phone-based solution is expected to benefit traditional merchants who do not have the know-how to move their business online while their physical operations are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Once the virtual store has been set up, customers are able to make orders through a URL or by scanning a QR code at the physical store. After customers make their first purchase, retailers can engage with them through the likes of loyalty rewards or discount vouchers. Nets is waiving service fees upon sign-up, while SCash is not charging merchants the monthly service fee until the end of the year. NYP-SIRS is also providing a one-day workshop to help merchants sustain their business operation after the virtual store has been set up. On May 6, Enterprise Singapore announced an expansion to its e-commerce booster package to support SME retailers in strengthening their digital marketing capabilities for e-commerce. The package includes a one-off 90 per cent support for digital marketing advisory services for three months, which include capabilities to analyze digital business models and assets.

S'poreans ready to give up some privacy for safety: IPS study The Straits Times 26th May 2020
Singaporeans are willing to sacrifice some level of privacy amid the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep safe and resume their normal activities as soon as possible, but the type of technology and how it is used determine public acceptability, a study has found. Just under half of Singapore residents are agreeable to having their cellphone data tracked without their consent for the sake of contact tracing, according to a survey on attitudes towards the use of surveillance technologies in the fight against Covid-19. And nearly six in 10 support the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor people's movements during the circuit breaker period, according to the study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) released on Sunday.

Robot reminds visitors of safe distancing measures in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park The Straits Times 8th May 2020
A four-legged robot will be patrolling Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park to remind people of safe distancing measures starting from May 8. Called Spot, the robot will assist with safe distancing efforts at parks, gardens and nature reserves managed by National Parks Board (NParks) and at parks managed by town councils. The pilot trial is jointly conducted by NParks, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG). The Spot robot will broadcast a recorded message reminding park visitors to observe safe distancing measures.

Singaporean Daren Tang officially appointed next head of UN intellectual property agency WIPO CNA 8th May 2020
Mr Daren Tang has been officially appointed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)'s next director-general. Mr Tang, who is currently the chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), will helm the specialised United Nations (UN) agency from Oct 1 for a term of six years, the Ministry of Law and IPOS said in a joint press release on May 8. This marks the first time a Singaporean will lead a UN agency, and Mr Tang will be WIPO’s first director-general from Asia. The confirmation comes after it was announced in March that Mr Tang had won the nomination for the position in Geneva, beating five other candidates for the job.

IBM, IMDA, M1, AND SAMSUNG TO COLLABORATE ON SINGAPORES FIRST 5G INDUSTRY 4.0 TRIAL Infocomm Media Development Authority 8th May 2020
IBM, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), M1 Limited (M1) and Samsung today announced Singapore’s first 5G Industry 4.0 trial, to demonstrate the transformative impact of 5G for enterprises and drive the next bound of Singapore’s digital economy. The trial aims to develop insights and showcase benefits of 5G in Industry 4.01. It will be an innovation model that allows for development, testing and benchmarking of 5G-enabled solutions that can be applied across various industries.

Thailand

AIS mulls digital platform to rival foreign OTT players Bangkok Post 20th May 2020
Advanced Info Service (AIS), the leading mobile operator by subscribers, is looking to create a new digital platform for daily life use among individuals and corporations that would rival foreign over-the-top platforms. Details and scope of the platform should be known by the fourth quarter following consultants' recommendations, said AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong, and the company would begin developing the platform in early 2021. In the third quarter the company will be in recovery mode following the coronavirus outbreak. The final quarter would be a time for management restructuring and reskilling of human resources to seek opportunity in the new ecosystem. "AIS has proved successful in core engines of infrastructure development, including mobile network efficiency, fixed broadband business growth through AIS Fibre and enterprise solutions," Mr Somchai said. Despite these achievements, AIS has yet to reach crucial success in its digital services, including entertainment app AIS Play, payment service AIS Rabbit Line Pay as well as gaming platform. The new platform has been approved in principle by AIS's board. The company will assign consultants to study how it would be commonly used by individuals and corporations. As the coronavirus took hold in Thailand, many people turned to digital platforms, most of which are run by foreign operators, as they practiced social distancing and worked from home. "Most Thais consume content on foreign platforms despite most of the content being locally produced," Mr Somchai said. Mr Somchai said he learned from Silicon Valley stories that globally successful apps or startups must come with three core elements: deep tech talent, funding and proper ecosystem, including partnership and collaboration. More data need to be sought to figure out key elements that would boost the success of the new platform, which must cater to daily demand among individuals and corporations, he said. The country held the 5G spectrum license auction in February and the ultra-fast network is expected to be a boon for various industrial sectors.

Thailand leads ASEAN in 5G rollout due to pandemic Nikkei Asian Review 20th May 2020
The novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted Thailand's major telecom operators to rev up deployment of fifth-generation technologies, making it the first country in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to have commercial 5G services. Thailand's top two mobile operators Advanced Info Service and True Corp. are racing to deploy 5G networks at hospitals to lend support to doctors and medical personnel fighting the coronavirus. AIS on May 11 revealed that the company had set aside up to $1.2 billion for investment in 5G network expansion, aiming to cover around 13% of the total Thai population by the end of this year. Analysts had expected previously that Thailand's mobile operators would need more time before investing in the new generation network since they spent billions of dollars in 2015 on 4G licenses -- the rights to use spectrum designated for the previous generation of services. Demand for ultra-fast networks was also expected to remain thin, making a rapid deployment of 5G very unlikely. However, the spread of coronavirus infections has quickly reversed these earlier predictions, generating a range of new telecom service needs. GSMA, a telecom industry body that produces highly-recognized MWC (formerly known as the Mobile World Congress) events in cities including Barcelona and Shanghai, certified AIS as the first mobile operator in ASEAN to have launched commercial 5G services. AIS, Thailand's largest operator with 42 million subscribers and which is backed by Singapore Telecommunications, has launched 5G networks in 158 hospitals in Bangkok and major cities across Southeast Asia's second largest economy. The 5G network is helping hospitals launch telemedicine services and robots that help prevent direct contact between doctors and patients. The robots, which are operated via 5G, are helping cutting the risk of infection among medical personnel, Dr. Sukrom Chi-Charoen, deputy medical director of Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, explained. Apart from hospitals, the two companies are competing to launch their 5G networks in department stores, Bangkok's financial districts and tourist attractions. Both AIS and True are also racing to offer high-speed home internet services for the many Thais who need to work from home during the lockdown.

Thailand gears up for 5G ComputerWeekly.com 26th May 2020
The Thai government has formed a 26-member national 5G committee to spearhead the roll-out of 5G networks in Thailand. Chaired by Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the committee will look to address roadblocks related to the recall of unused spectrum from state agencies for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), in exchange for compensation. It will also promote cooperation between related agencies for 5G development and develop a roadmap for 5G adoption and infrastructure development, according to the NBTC’s secretary-general, Takorn Tantasith.

Most parts of PDPA to be deferred by a year Bangkok Post 20th May 2020
The cabinet has agreed to postpone the enforcement of most chapters of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) by a year to give the public and private sectors time to prepare their internal processes and ease the financial burden they are shouldering during the coronavirus pandemic. A royal decree seeking deferral of enforcement was approved at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

Thailand No 1 exporter of computers, components in Asean The Star Online 19th May 2020
Thai exports of computers and components in the first quarter of 2020 rose to nearly US$4 billion (Bt128 billion), placing it at the top among Asean nations, said Department of Trade Negotiations director-general Auramon Supthaweethum. “Rising demand for computers and related components came from increasing online activities amid the Covid-19 lockdown worldwide. Last year, Thailand ranked 6th globally in computer exports, after China, the European Union, the United States, Mexico and Hong Kong and the kingdom was the top exporter in Asean, ” she said on Monday (May 18).

AIS plays down 8.3bn-record leak Bangkok Post 17th May 2020
Advanced Info Service Plc, Thailand’s largest mobile operator, has denied its users’ data are compromised as reported by an American online technology publisher, saying the logs only show an overall picture of internet use, not personal or sensitive information of its customers. Saichon Sapmak-udom, chief of public relations, told Thai media the revelation by TechCrunch was a result of a test this month to improve its network.

New anti-Covid phone app for use when entering shops Bangkok Post 14th May 2020
The government will launch a new mobile phone app to facilitate disease-control tracking of customers as shops reopen with the easing of the coronavirus lockdown. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Thursday that shop owners would register online for a QR code that would be placed in front of their shop. Customers would use their mobile phone to scan the code as they enter and leave the premises. Inspector-general of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society said the new app would be launched on Friday afternoon, along with details of how to register. All kinds of shops could use it, including street vendors. He said customers' privacy would be protected. Only the Disease Control Department would have access to customers' information, and only for the sake of disease control. 

Thai Government confirms that a Covid19 contact tracing phone application is coming very soon The Pattaya News 10th May 2020
The spokesman of the Center for Covid19 Situation Administration (CCSA), Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, confirmed this afternoon to the associated Thai press that a contact tracing application is indeed coming VERY soon and being developed by the Thai Government in association with the CCSA. The app, which will be designed to work for nearly all modern smart phones, is based on similar applications that is required in China, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries to enter “high risk” venues like entertainment. Dr. Taweesin stated that more in depth details will be released at tomorrow’s press briefing from the CCSA, but did take time to allay some fears.

5G adoption outlook mixed Bangkok Post 8th May 2020
While the government remains highly enthusiastic about the adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications, a key hurdle will be the readiness of industries to adopt such technologies; use cases are still being explored and the level of infrastructure maturity, especially in fringe areas of the country, remains low. Limited consumer 5G networks were launched in the 2.6GHz band by both True and AIS in February this year, while DTAC is planning to launch on the 26GHz band later in the first half and on the 700MHz band in the latter half of the year. However, coverage is focused only on commercial areas in downtown Bangkok. We expect that network rollouts in other parts of the country will follow a gradual, progressive pace.

NBTC head says technical expertise is secondary for position Bangkok Post 8th May 2020
National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) secretary-general Takorn Tantasith says his successor does not have to be a technical expert in the industry, as he or she will be backed by knowledgeable and experienced officials to streamline policy. Mr Takorn is scheduled to leave his post on July 1. The 59-year-old submitted his resignation letter to NBTC chairman Sukit Khamasundara on Feb 18, requesting to step down on May 18. His term ends officially on Sept 10, when he turns 60. On April 24, Gen Sukit informed Mr Takorn that he could leave the post on July 1.

Vietnam

Vietnam among world's cheapest mobile data markets: report VnExpress International 28th May 2020
A new study has found Vietnam to be the 10th cheapest country in the world to purchase mobile data. The country’s average price for one gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data costs $0.57, much lower than the global average of $5.09, according to a report by Cable, a U.K. broadband, TV, phone and mobile provider. The report was based on an analysis of 5,554 mobile data plans in 228 countries and territories to compare the cost for 1GB of mobile data across the world.

Homemade tech makes Vietnam top contestant in 5G Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 27th May 2020
Fifth-generation mobile network technology has become a firm foundation for the ASEAN’s ongoing digital transformation in which Vietnam is among the most active participants. Local network operator Viettel has the largest market share in Vietnam and is urgently making its last preparations before commercialising the 5G standard next month, looking forward to reaching the world one year later in June 2021.

Local social networking sites shaken by draft amendment Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 27th May 2020
More than 500 local social networking sites will need to secure a permit to continue operations and generate revenue if the draft decree amending the rules on internet management is approved and put into force. Social networking sites with more than one million users or 10,000 interactions a month will have to get licensed through the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to operate in the country, according to Article 23 of the draft amendment to Decree No.72/2013/ND-CP outlining the management, provision, and use of internet services and online information.

Facebook launches campaign to assist Vietnam in developing digital economy VN Ministry of Information and Communications 26th May 2020
Focusing on innovation, safety and digital literacy, smart cities, the digital economy and the community, the “Facebook for Vietnam” programme is being deployed from May to December this year by the company, in collaboration with the US delegation in Vietnam and other partners. As the first comprehensive programme designed specifically for Vietnam by the social platform under the hashtag #fb4vn, the campaign aims to boost the nation’s socio-economic development and join hands to assist its in the path to becoming a digital nation.

MPI introduces state-of-the-art operating platform vietnamnews.vn 23rd May 2020
Việt Nam's Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) on Friday launched a cutting-edge integrated operating centre that is capable of collecting, analysing and disseminating information in the shortest time possible with the highest accuracy. Minister Nguyễn Chí Dũng said the centre was built to integrate existing databases of the ministry’s subsidiaries. It is expected to issue early and clear warnings, improve the country’s socio-economic landscape as well as enhance the MPI’s internal management.

Banks urged to promote digitalisation vietnamnews.vn 23rd May 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a serious effect to the economy, but it has helped accelerate the race for banks to go digital. With many people looking for new options to deal with their financial affairs, digitalisation of services and e-payments are becoming crucial. Statistics showed the country now has 70 credit institutions and intermediaries unit such as E-wallets providing payment services online and through cell phone apps. The total value of digital financial transactions topped VNĐ7.3 quadrillion and 300,000 transactions via mobilephone so far.

Vietnam plans to abolish household registration books Nhan Dan Online 23rd May 2020
The Ministry of Public Security is planning to put an end to household registration books as a residence management method in sweeping proposed revisions in relation to the residential law. A personal ID number can be used to access and update a citizen’s information on the national demographic database, which is shared between various government agencies.

Telecom industry expects high growth in next 5 years Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 22nd May 2020
Five sectors of telecoms, information and technology, clean agriculture, clean technologies, retail, health care and pharmaceuticals have potential for high growth in the next three years. This was revealed in the FAST 500 Ranking Lists 2020, drawn up annually since 2011, which was announced by the Vietnam Report on May 20. The survey said this also reflects the current development trend of promoting technologies in parallel to protect local firms. They, therefore, have enhanced clean technologies, applying IT in automation, machine learning and data exchanges to reduce time and saving costs as well as strengthen connection among countries.

Vietnam pushes for digital transformation with cloud computing Nhan Dan Online 22nd May 2020
The Ministry of Information and Communications has launched a campaign to promote digital transformation using cloud computing with the participation of 11 local service providers. Experts say digital transformation will help Vietnamese enterprises, especially small and medium-sized ones, adopt a more flexible and cost-effective business model in the post-coronavirus recovery period.

FPT a match made in heaven for AI centre Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 21st May 2020
Vietnam’s ICT-related services group FPT Corporation is looking like the clear favourite to develop the central province of Binh Dinh’s ambitious AI hub, which is planned to turn it into a regional and global powerhouse in AI development. The corporation is reportedly working with the central province to join its project on building its hallmark AI Centre and adjacent supporting urban area. Binh Dinh Department of Planning and Investment early this year announced details of the project, whose investment capital is estimated to be VND4.36 trillion ($189.6 million) and which is aimed to be developed into one of the world’s largest AI centres. The total investment will include VND3.9 trillion ($169.5 million) for construction, with the remaining capital going to site clearance.

Data must stay in VN, says minister vietnamnews.vn 21st May 2020
The digital economy’s data must stay in Việt Nam instead of being stored elsewhere by foreign players, said Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng at a ceremony to promote cloud computing and digitalisation held in Hà Nội yesterday. The minister said cloud computing will play a key role in the future’s digital infrastructure and must be a top investment priority in Việt Nam’s digitalisation strategy and socio-economic development.

Vietnam likely to accelerate 5G launch Developing Telecoms 20th May 2020
A new report from Fitch Solutions tips Vietnam for a swift transition to 5G given the government’s support for the technology and the country’s device manufacturing sector. Vietnam began trialling 5G in May this year, and Fitch has predicted that commercial services could launch by mid-2020. The country’s government is pushing for the introduction of 5G, and Fitch expects this to continue with the advent of enterprise grants and test beds. The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to lead to operators delaying commercial 5G launches as they divert investment towards boosting their 4G capacity. However, Fitch noted that the state-owned operators active in Vietnam could be pressured to stick to the government’s desired 5G timeline.

State-led approach to boost 5G deployment in Việt Nam: experts vietnamnews.vn 18th May 2020
Việt Nam’s 5G network is forecast to have a bright future with Government and regulator support while domestic manufacturing of 5G handsets could lower device costs and lend tailwinds to adoption. According to analysts from Fitch Solutions, 5G appears to be high on the Government’s priority list, with the earliest services set to be commercialised in mid-2020 following trials conducted through 2019.

Vietnamese businesses among top targets for phishing in Southeast Asia vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2020
Cybercriminals have actively attacked small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Southeast Asia this year, according to global cybersecurity company Kaspersky. It said its anti-phishing system prevented 834,993 phishing attempts against companies with 50-250 employees, a 56 per cent increase from the same period last year. The statistics were collated from Kaspersky’s solutions for SMBs using Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

NA discusses managing citizen residency via ID numbers vietnamnews.vn 13th May 2020
Members of the National Assembly (NA) Committee of Legal Affairs on Tuesday agreed to a new identification system to replace household residency books. The plan will see all citizens allocated a 12-digit personal number which will be recorded on a national database. It was deemed necessary to modernise the current residency book system and bring it in line with the implementation of e-Government, national public service portal and digital economy.

New high-tech park to be built in Đồng Nai vietnamnews.vn 11th May 2020
he Việt Nam-Korea Techno Park Investment and Development Joint Stock Company (VKTP) has proposed to Đồng Nai Province the investment and construction of Techno Park, a Việt Nam-South Korea high tech park project. The project is scheduled to have registered investment capital of US$150 million and be built on an area of about 300 hectares. Its location is near the Long Thành International Airport as well as river ports and seaports to facilitate transport for import and export of goods.

Vietnam's JobHopin nabs US$2.45M Series A to make recruitment easier in Southeast Asia e27 11th May 2020
JobHopin, a startup that offers an Artificial Intelligence-powered online recruitment platform in Vietnam, has secured US$2.45 million in Series A round of financing, co-led by SEMA Translink (South Korea) and KK Fund. Mynavi Corporation, Edulab Capital Partners (Japan), NKC Asia (Japan), and Canaan Capital (China), besides several angels, including the CEO of Vietnam’s second largest investment bank HSC and the CEO of Forbes Vietnam, also joined the round. JobHopin has previously raised US$710,000, which brings its total fundraise to over US$3 million since inception.

ICT firms report revenue reduction of up to 90% vietnamnews.vn 9th May 2020
Revenue of information, communication and technology (ICT) firms was estimated to have fallen by 30 to 90 per cent in the first quarter of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This information was released in a report prepared by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to submit to the Prime Minister at a conference which will be held this Saturday.

Cyber attacks drop 51% in the first four months vietnamnews.vn 8th May 2020
The Authority of Information Security under the Ministry of Information and Communications reported a total of 1,056 cyber attacks on information systems of Việt Nam in the first four months of this year. Specifically, there were 553 phishing attempts, 280 acts of defacing, and 223 malware attacks, down 51.4 per cent over the same period last year. There were 203 attacks on information systems in Việt Nam last month, including 43 phishing, 89 interface and 71 malware attacks. The number of attacks has decreased by 28 per cent compared to March and by 68.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.