All posts by jaredhamzah

Malaysian Celcom Axiata’s Q3 FY2022 profit after tax and minority interest up 65.3% at USD190 million

Celcom Axiata Bhd’s profit after tax and minority interest (Patami) rose by 65.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2022 (Q3 FY2022) to RM856 million despite higher prosperity taxes.

Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 12.4 per cent to RM2.29 billion in Q3 FY2022, underpinned by on-going cost management resulting in lower operational expenditure (opex) and higher debt recovery, a statement from the company said today.

Celcom’s revenue ex-device grew by 3.9 per cent year-to-date (YTD) to RM4.58 billion, driven by prepaid revenue and contribution from new enterprise subsidiaries.

Chief executive officer Datuk Idham Nawawi said the mobile service provider’s strong performance over the quarter was the result of its strategic transformation programme that has touched every part of the organisation.

“We delivered a great financial performance in all key metrics, whilst gaining market share in a very competitive market and a challenging macro environment,” he said.

Idham noted that addressing the surging data traffic growth remained the top priority as Celcom has invested over RM1.8 billion to cater for a significant growth in traffic demand over the past three years.

Celcom’s YTD data traffic increased by 73 per cent to 1.78 terabyte (TB) compared to 1.025 TB three years ago, while the average monthly usage per user rose by 75 per cent to 26.2 gigabyte (GB) in the Q3 FY2022 compared to 14.9GB in the first quarter of 2020.

On prospect over the merger between Celcom with Digi.Com Bhd, Idham said the company will be starting a new chapter and entering the merger on a strong footing.

“Our transformation journey has made the organisation much stronger, leaner, and resilient and it enters the merger with Digi with a positive momentum.

“We look forward to the merged company to continue delivering quality and affordable services, connecting more Malaysians nationwide,” he added.

Finastra launches center of excellence in Kuala Lumpur

Finastra has announced a new center of excellence (CoE) at Malaysia’s MRANTI Technology Park in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. 

In a statement, the financial software firm said MRANTI Park, which is a hub for technology innovation, commercial adoption, and scientific excellence is an ideal location for it to expand its Asia Pacific footprint. 

This will further contribute to the local economy, and promote science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) careers in a region dedicated to innovation, it said.

Finastra said it will benefit from MRANTI’s integrated infrastructure and services. Additionally, it will also be able to tap into local IT talent, including from nearby universities and the growing startup technology community there. 

It said the new CoE will champion its lending, universal banking, payments and treasury and capital markets software solutions across the region.

With its open development platform, Finastra said it will continue to support innovation for its financial institution customers around the world, connecting fintechs, including those in Malaysia to its core solutions. 

The new space will also embrace sustainability and contribute to the circular economy, being a low carbon development that uses renewable energy, aims to recycle all waste and conserves water through rain harvesting, it claimed. 

Simon Paris, chief executive officer (CEO) at Finastra said, “This site is a hub for technology innovation and MRANTI’s desire to act as a connector, incubator, and catalyst to transform ideas from early-stage ideation to impact complements our collaborative mantra to drive innovation and technology acceleration.

“This will be around digital trade, digital finance and acceleration to cloud, in line with government initiatives around digitalisation there and a testament to our highly valued Malaysian banking and financial services customers,” he said

CEO of MRANTI Dzuleira Abu Bakar said through its recently launched MRANTI Park Master Plan, the agency seeks to inspire the world with a bold new model that accelerates ideas to impact. 

“This is done by combining our developmental expertise with tech infrastructure and services for the creation, development and commercialization of technology and innovation.

“We are excited that a leading fintech company like Finastra is joining our growing community and look forward to supporting local tech innovation to transform our nations’ technology landscape,” she said.

The move is supported by Finastra’s investor, Vista Equity Partners, a leading global investment firm focused on enterprise software that has over a dozen companies active in Malaysia. 

Robert Smith, founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, said, “We’re delighted to grow our engagement with direct investment through this Finastra Center of Excellence in partnership with MRANTI, and are excited about further developing local IT talent and increasing opportunities for even more Malaysians.”

Universiti Malaya And Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Triumph At Huawei ICT Competition 2022-2023 Malaysia

The Huawei ICT Competition 2022-2023 organised by Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Huawei Malaysia) saw Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and Universiti Malaya clinching the first two spots in the Cloud Track and Network Track respectively to represent Malaysia in the upcoming regional competition in February 2023.

The Huawei ICT Competition is a well-established platform for students to demonstrate their skills and abilities in the areas of information and communications technology (ICT). Themed “Connection, Glory, Future,” the fourth edition of the Huawei ICT Competition in Malaysia aims to bridge skill gaps by providing training and competition tracks in advanced technologies required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0). 

With the slogan, “I. C. The Future,” the final session of the national competition evaluated participants in two categories designed to challenge students’ abilities to apply cutting-edge technologies such as Big Data and AI to real-world situations. The two categories judged were the Network Track, which highlighted IP (Internet Protocol) technologies such as Datacom, security and WLAN, and the Cloud Track which focuses on technologies such as Cloud, Big Data, storage, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

The competition saw the participation of 45 selected students from 11 Huawei ICT Academies in local universities. The 15 teams that contended in the competition comprised of six teams for the Cloud Track category and nine teams for the Network Track. Among the participating local universities were:

  1. Multimedia University
  2. Taylor’s University
  3. Universiti Malaya
  4. Universiti Malaysia Pahang
  5. Universiti Malaysia Perlis
  6. Universiti Malaysia Sabah
  7. Universiti Putra Malaysia
  8. Universiti Sains Malaysia
  9. Universiti Teknologi MARA
  10. Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
  11. Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Managing Director of Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Malaysia, Mr David Li, said the company will continue to provide both digital and new local talents with the opportunities and platforms to experience impactful cutting-edge technologies. 

“At Huawei, we deeply value creating a sustainable ICT talent ecosystem. Back in 2013, we launched the Huawei ICT Academy school-enterprise cooperation plan. Since then, we have cooperated with over 800 universities worldwide and have helped educate over 45,000 students. Huawei has established 32 academies with our higher education partners in Malaysia since the year 2018, and throughout this programme, over 2000 students have benefited from ICT training,” Mr Li said.  

Commenting further, Mr Li added, “We hope that we can enhance our students’ hands-on skills and competitiveness through this programme, creating a talented alliance and successfully increasing their employability.”

In conjunction with the Huawei ICT Competition, the company also organised an ICT Job Fair with Huawei Enterprise partners that aimed to offer both job opportunities and support, such as profiling and career counselling, for participants. 

The Huawei ICT Competition is targeted at students from Huawei ICT Academies in higher education institutions. Through this competition, Huawei aims to provide students with a platform to compete healthily and exchange ideas, thereby enhancing their ICT knowledge and practical skills and increasing their ability to innovate by using new technologies.

Here’s how the tech sector can win public trust in Southeast Asia (Opinion)

Written by Ming Tan, Founding executive director, Tech For Good Institute

New research into digital financial services by the Tech for Good Institute has showed that one of the most consistent predictors of trust across Southeast Asian countries is the perception of the service provider’s integrity. This is not just in terms of the service provider being honest, but also in terms of having a strong sense of social justice and having sound principles that guide the company’s behaviour. On the other hand, respondents’ propensity to trust technology itself did not significantly predict trust in any of the Southeast Asian countries.

So winning public trust for the tech sector in this region is not just about coding and security – institutions need to show that they have integrity across strategies, systems and services. SGTech, the trade association for Singapore’s tech industry, has defined digital trust as: “the confidence participants have in the digital ecosystem to interact securely, in a transparent, accountable, and frictionless manner.” In the same report, the association argues that building digital trust will involve both technologies – including Distributed Ledger Technologies, Privacy Enhancing Technologies and Governance, Risk, and Compliance technologies – and social, political, legal, economic, environmental and ethical considerations. 

Digital identification technology is at the forefront of these debates. Across Southeast Asia, countries have implemented or have started to develop national digital identification systems, using technology such as biometric and face verification. These can increase efficiency in existing enterprise processes and reduce the cost of providing services. The oft-cited use case would be for “know your customer” (KYC) purposes in financial services. The digitalisation of personal identification will also enable new business models. Alternative data, such as bill payments or online shopping transactions can be used to develop credit risk models for individuals and small businesses.

The technology surrounding digital identification will continue to evolve, and national digital ID systems will be integrated into a wide range of systems, including healthcare, social assistance and even exam-taking. Looking to the future, digital identification will also facilitate virtual interactions, assets and commerce. Industry analysts predict that around 25% of people will be spending at least an hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, or social media by 2026. Digital identification systems will form the foundation of continued innovation in the digital economy.

Governance, industry standards and interoperability across jurisdictions will be necessary to maintain trust in these systems. An analogy would be the governance and standards of biometric passports, involving multiple international organisations, including the International Organization for Standardization and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. 

There has been some progress in this direction. In Southeast Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Model Contractual Clauses for data transfers coordinate and harmonise data regulatory policies. The region is also working towards an ASEAN Trust Mark Scheme for e-commerce to boost the confidence of digital consumers. ASEAN is also developing policies for a Unique Business Identification Number system to support companies with cross-border trade, market expansion and better access to financing in the region. This will be vital for small and medium enterprises to grow.

Winning public trust in digital identification technology will require public and private sector initiatives for collaboration and harmonisation of systems. Digital ID systems should also be designed to be inclusive, especially when they become necessary for public services such as welfare programs, assistance grants, and healthcare. The digital divide in Southeast Asia remains significant, with some 150 million adults in the region – or nearly a third of the population – still lacking access to digital technologies. As more people adopt digital identities, governments and organisations should work together, demonstrating continued integrity and commitment to all citizens by promoting digital inclusion through access and literacy.

Technology should be a tool to help institutions do their job better, not to displace or replace them entirely. Public institutions take years and or even generations to build and secure the trust of their citizens. As these traditional trust institutions and intermediaries seek to use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain to improve their operations, they must also work to ensure these are used responsibly and inclusively.

UK and Singapore deepen collaboration in FinTech and strengthen financial cooperation

The United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore held the 7th UK-Singapore Financial Dialogue in Singapore today. Both countries renewed their commitment to deepening the UK-Singapore Financial Partnership that was agreed in 2021, discussed mutual priorities such as sustainable finance, FinTech and innovation, and agreed on further cooperation in these areas.

At the Financial Dialogue, the UK and Singapore agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding on the UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge[1]. The FinTech Bridge seeks to support continued growth, investment, and technological innovation in this sector, building on active interest of FinTech players in the areas of payments, RegTech and wealth management. Both countries strongly welcomed this deepened co-operation on FinTech and the opportunities the industry can deliver in relation to financial inclusion, enhanced innovation, and improved outcomes for consumers.

Both countries recognised the importance of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) signed earlier this year, and the principle of the free flow of data which is enshrined in it. They noted the significance of this agreement in underpinning the development of respective FinTech sectors and supporting future digital and innovation partnerships.

The UK and Singapore discussed their joint interests in sustainable finance as well as FinTech and innovation.

  • Sustainable Finance: Both countries noted continued momentum at COP27 to focus on implementation, including the need to mobilise capital to developing economies to finance the transition to net zero, using innovative approaches such as blended finance and carbon markets.

Transition finance –

The UK and Singapore recognised the importance of transition plans and pathways to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. Both agreed to work together on transition finance. As a first step, the two countries agreed to explore collaboration opportunities, working with partners such as the UK Transition Plan Taskforce and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero’s (GFANZ) Asia Pacific office, which is based in Singapore, to drive international consistency in design and disclosure of transition plans.

Disclosure standards –

The UK and Singapore affirmed their strong commitment to the implementation of International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) disclosure standards. Both countries will continue to work with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the ISSB and other international organisations to implement a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards that is interoperable with jurisdiction-specific requirements. Both countries also commit to phase in mandatory climate-related financial disclosures that provide consistent, comparable and decision-useful information for market participants and financial authorities.

Greenwashing –

The UK and Singapore discussed efforts to combat greenwashing, including in relation to sustainability disclosures and sustainable investment product labels. It was agreed that regulators should continue discussing how to adopt a global, coherent, and co-ordinated approach on regulatory oversight of ESG ratings and data products providers, grounded in IOSCO’s recommendations. Both countries recognised the importance of comparable and reliable data to underpin the net zero transition, enabled by technology solutions such as Project Greenprint, and agreed to explore further collaboration opportunities in this area.

Natural capital and biodiversity –

Both countries agreed on the importance of a globally consistent framework for nature-based disclosures and exchanged views on how the efforts of the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) can contribute to the ISSB’s global baseline. Both countries agreed to collaborate to build capacity and understanding of the potential for nature loss and degradation to generate financial risks and cause adverse impacts to business and society, including through engaging with academia such as the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and the Singapore Green Finance Centre, co-managed by Imperial College Business School and Singapore Management University (SMU).

  • FinTech and Innovation: The UK and Singapore exchanged views on recent developments in the FinTech sector, including in relation to crypto-assets, and agreed on a number of priority areas for further co-operation.

Crypto-assets sector –

Both countries shared their latest assessments of market developments, opportunities, trends, and longer-term expectations for the crypto-assets sector. They also discussed risks and challenges relating to financial stability, regulatory arbitrage, and shared their progress in strengthening rules on consumer protection and developing the regulation of stablecoins. There was strong agreement on the need to support the safe development of a digital assets ecosystem while ensuring that risks posed by digital assets are consistently managed. Both countries will continue to actively participate in the shaping of robust global regulatory practices through engagement within international multilateral fora such as the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and IOSCO.

E-wallets and digital banking –

Singapore provided updates on the progress of its review of e-wallet caps and expected next steps. Both countries discussed the recently released consultation, with the UK providing views on the key proposals. Singapore also updated on the new digital banks that recently launched their operations in Singapore.

The two countries agreed to a roadmap for engagements in sustainable finance, FinTech and innovation, and other areas of mutual interest, leading up to the next Dialogue scheduled to take place in London in 2023.

The UK and Singapore discussed their latest analysis of financial market developments and economic outlook, including how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted the global economy. Both countries agreed on the usefulness of ongoing exchange of information on this topic, including on financial sanctions.

The Financial Dialogue was co-chaired by Deputy Managing Director (Markets and Development) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Mr Leong Sing Chiong, and Director General (Financial Services) of HM Treasury (HMT), Ms Gwyneth Nurse. Senior officials from MAS, HMT, the Department for International Trade, Bank of England (BoE), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the British High Commission in Singapore attended the Dialogue.

Two industry-led UK-Singapore business roundtables on sustainable finance and FinTech took place on 24 November 2022. Industry participants from both countries participated in this discussion.

a. The sustainable finance Roundtable examined the implementation challenges faced by corporates in meeting their net zero targets, and how the financial industry could help to address these challenges.

b. The FinTech Roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by FinTech firms, and how these firms could better access overseas markets, including by partnering with financial institutions.