Category Archives: Internet of Things

Bank Negara Malaysia to Award Digital Banking Licenses

The Malaysian central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, is preparing to award up to five digital banking licenses to a pool of 29 applicants. (Vincent Fong at Fintech News Malaysia has a comprehensive breakdown of everyone in the running). The announcement is expected in March and will make Malaysia the second country in ASEAN to issue such licenses. In December 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) selected four winning bids from a pool of 14 applicants. So, who will get the Malaysian licenses?

I have no special insight into the future or the central bank’s decision-making process. But we can view the field of candidates through an informed lens based on what MAS did in Singapore, and what the overall purpose of digital banking is. In Singapore, two full digital banking licenses were awarded to a home-grown tech start-up listed on the New York Stock Exchange (Sea) and a partnership between another big start-up and the largest telecommunications company in Singapore (Grab and Singtel).

The key for a digital bank is market penetration, since these new players will be competing against incumbents with large existing customer bases. A digital bank needs to have its own extensive customer base from the get-go, a deep pool of users who will view banking as an added service. The tie-up between Grab and Singtel makes perfect sense in that regard, as most people in Singapore use Singtel as their mobile provider and almost everyone already has Grab downloaded on their phone.

Singtel and Grab are teaming up again in pursuit of a Malaysian digital banking license.  Although they are a leading contender, their success is not a foregone conclusion. Singtel does not have the same dominant market position in Malaysia as it does elsewhere. And it will be competing with Axiata, a major telecom holding company that is partnering with RBH, one of the largest banks in Malaysia. Axiata, through its e-wallet company Boost, already has 8.8 million users as of 2020 and its largest shareholder is sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad. That makes it a pretty formidable competitor.

There are several other candidates being backed by similarly powerful political or commercial interests. Sunway, which has a controlling stake in Credit Bureau Malaysia, is partnering with Bangkok Bank and a fintech linked to China’s Tencent. BigPay, a local start-up, is vying for a license with the support of AirAsia, which has been looking to expand its footprint in the financial services industry lately. It has also been reported that Sea Group, fresh from securing its digital banking license in Singapore, has joined up with Malaysian conglomerate YTL Berhad.

These are all competitive bids, with leading e-commerce or tech companies joining up with big banks or conglomerates in a similar fashion to what we saw in Singapore. But there is an additional dimension to Malaysia’s digital banking ecosystem, which is providing financial services to the unbanked or those who might not otherwise have access. This is not really a consideration in Singapore, where according to the World Bank 98 percent of the population over the age of 15 had a bank account in 2017. According to the same survey, the figure was 85 percent in Malaysia.

This means that while we can expect some of the usual high-flying suspects like Sea, Axiata, or Grab to be awarded licenses, the central bank may also reserve a few licenses for organizations aimed at low-income or unbanked populations. There have been a few such entrants, such as the governments of Sarawak and Sabah, which have formed their own separate consortiums to compete for a license with the goal of expanding access to credit in rural areas. Another interesting pairing is Boustead Holdings and national cooperative Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Berhad. Their goal is also to provide access to financial services to cooperative members and other under-served members of the community. Boustead Holdings, which is majority owned by a pension fund for the armed forces, has had some recent financial struggles.

E-commerce and tech are booming in Southeast Asia, and only going to get bigger. We are now starting to see some of the underlying infrastructure that will support these rapidly growing digital marketplaces take shape. The way Bank Negara Malaysia ultimately decides these licenses will reveal a lot not only about which tech companies and conglomerates have the inside track in the digital banking race, but also about how this new digital ecosystem is being used to regulate the distribution of and access to financial services and credit.

Huawei’s Guo Ping: Reshaping the technological paradigm in three areas to secure mid to long term competitiveness

BARCELONA, Spain, March 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — During MWC Barcelona 2022, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Guo Pingspoke on the company’s plan to continue its globalization strategy and increase its strategic investment into foundational technologies. Through this investment, Huawei hopes to reshape the fundamental theories, architecture, and software that underpin its industry, increase its mid-to long-term competitiveness, and ensure the longer-term sustainability of the ICT industry.

In the keynote speech he delivered online, titled “Just Look Up, Let’s Light Up the Future,” Guo focused on two major sources of both challenge and opportunity in the world: digitalization and carbon neutrality.

Existing theories and architectures are unable to support explosive growth in digital demand.

Forecasts show that over 50% of global GDP will be digitalized in 2022. As the global digital economy develops rapidly, the demand for digital products and services has exceeded expectations. Guo explained that as Shannon’s theorem and the von Neumann architecture continue hitting severe bottlenecks, the industry must explore new theories and architectures to reshape the technological paradigm to achieve digital sustainability.

Carbon reduction impacts the long-term vitality of the digital economy.

On carbon neutrality, Guo said, “Connectivity density and computing power determine the strength of the digital economy, but it should also maintain long-term vitality. So, we need to consider a new dimension, carbon reduction.”

Huawei currently adheres to a “More Bits, Less Watts” strategy in this area. In addition to improving its fundamental digital capabilities, Huawei has committed to making its products 2.7 times more energy efficient by making breakthroughs in areas like theories, materials, and algorithms. Through advances like these, the ICT industry is able to help other industries reduce their own carbon footprints. In fact, this reduction will be 10 times larger than the carbon footprint of the ICT industry itself.

  • Huawei is increasing strategic investment into foundational technologies to reshape the technological paradigm.

Guo also said that Huawei is significantly increasing strategic investment into foundational technologies and working with its partners to reshape the technological paradigm in three areas: fundamental theories, architecture, and software. This investment will gradually be reflected in the competitiveness of the company’s products, which they hope will support the long-term and sustainable development of both the company and the ICT industry as a whole.

This investment is also notably focused on helping the company get closer to and maybe exceed Shannon’s Limit. By exploring new theories and technologies, like next-generation MIMO and wireless AI, Huawei is able to push its technologies ever closer to Shannon’s Limit. At the same time, Huawei’s research into new theories like semantic communications will provide the industry with guidance on new fundamental theories.

Huawei is also developing exciting new architectures. Huawei is currently integrating photonic and electronic technologies and design peer-to-peer architectures to solve technological challenges or technique bottlenecks.

In terms of software, Huawei is building AI-centered, full-stack software and a new software ecosystem to meet the drastically rising demand for computing capacity caused by explosive growth of AI.

  • “Software-hardware synergies” will be the way forward.

Guo finally explained that great user experience comes from software-hardware synergies. He used two examples to show how Huawei applies this concept to ICT product development and technological innovation for network evolution. First, optimized algorithms for AHR Turbos are helping MetaAAUs consume less energy and improve performance. Second, algorithm breakthroughs in holographic optics have enabled OXCs to achieve one-hop connections.

  • Huawei is the company with the most complete suite of ICT capabilities in the digital industry.

Over the last 10-plus years, network evolution has been a process of introducing the latest IT practices to CT, ranging from IP, to cloud, and then to AI today. As the company with the most complete suite of ICT capabilities in the digital industry, Guo said that Huawei is confident it will be able to gain a head start in the evolution towards future AI-native networks.

Closing out his speech, Guo said, “Huawei will continue its globalization strategy, in standards, talent, supply chain, and more. Huawei is committed to helping customers who choose it to achieve the greatest business success.”

MWC22 Barcelona runs from February 28 to March 3 in Barcelona, Spain. Huawei showcases its products and solutions at stand 1H50 in Fira Gran Via Hall 1. Together with global operators, industry professionals, and opinion leaders, we dive into topics such as industry trends, GUIDE to the Future, and green development to envision the future of digital networks. For more information, please visit: https://carrier.huawei.com/en/events/mwc2022

KPMG: Asians show growing acceptance of smart city efforts

According to the latest regional survey by KPMG, rising adoption of digital services amid the COVID-19 pandemic has predisposed people in Asia Pacific to have increasingly favourable views of smart city development efforts over the long term.

78% of respondents said their interest in sustainability initiatives has increased since the start of the pandemic, while 84% said the pandemic has boosted their awareness of new technologies and applications that have improved their quality of life.

“The coming decades hold great promise for Hong Kong’s continued development as a smart and sustainable city. The city’s status as a logistics hub and global financial centre enables innovation in the areas of logistics and digital supply chain, fintech, Regtech and sustainable finance, while its dense urban landscape offers opportunities for the development of proptech solutions. Hong Kong is in a strong position to develop use cases that can be applied to other markets in the rest of the GBA and ASEAN,” said Andrew Weir, regional senior partner, Hong Kong and Global Head of Real Estate, KPMG, said.

KPMG polled a total of 4,096 people from Hong Kong, the nine Mainland China cities with the Greater Bay Area, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai.

The survey is part of Hong Kong’s Connected Future – KPMG China’s fourth annual study on Hong Kong’s smart and sustainable development produced in partnership with Autotoll, CGI, CLP, Cyberport, DLA Piper, JLL, Lenovo, MTR, Siemens, Sino Group, Smart City Consortium and theDesk. The report includes insights from the public sector, business and NGO leaders on the challenges and opportunities for Hong Kong’s ongoing smart transformation.

HK property and transport sectors: key in reducing city’s carbon footprint

The study identified the property and transport sectors as key areas for Hong Kong to reduce its carbon footprint.

Hong Kong residents see room for improvement in these areas, with only 25% of the city’s respondents saying current efforts to create carbon neutral buildings are sufficient, while 19% believe enough is being done to promote carbon neutral vehicles.

To meet the city’s targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, existing buildings will need to be retrofitted to reduce their carbon emissions and make them more energy efficient.

Furthermore,  pollution, waste reduction, waste management and reducing single use plastic are seen as the most pressing sustainability challenges facing Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong currently has a big focus on redevelopment, including planning, building approvals, land premium/zoning, revisiting plot ratio and incentives to create greener buildings that are fit for purpose. With incentives now in place, we need a concerted effort to bring redevelopment projects to life,” said Alan Yau, head of real estate, Hong Kong, KPMG China.

Meanwhile, with a wide range of new digitalisation initiatives outlined in the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint 2.0 released by the government in 2020, the study also pointed out  to the need for a comprehensive, coordinated approach to smart city development that addresses the needs of residents. Access to affordable housing was a top concern with 53% of respondents citing it as a priority, while access to affordable quality healthcare was considered a key issue by 40% of respondents, followed by addressing poverty and inequality at 38%.

Additionally, 55%  of respondents in Hong Kong said data security and privacy as among the top three factors to consider when cities implement new initiatives. These findings highlight the need for a unified cybersecurity regime in Hong Kong, backed by a legal framework, to protect both individuals’ data and critical government infrastructure from cyberattacks.

There is also a need for the city to develop a set of industry-wide security standards for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and projects.

Digital services now a fixture in consumers’ lives

The study also showed a significant increase in the take up of both government and private sector digital services among residents amid the rollout of anti-pandemic controls and related measures among the seven Asian markets surveyed:

  • 65% of respondents said they are more likely to access public services and information online
  • 70% reported increasing use of digital payments and e-wallets
  • 64%  mentioned an increase in getting updates on city services and information on their mobile devices

A majority of respondents indicated that the increasing trend towards the use of these digital services is likely to be permanent. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents agreed that anti-pandemic efforts in their cities have played a role to help their cities become smarter and more sustainable.

Underemployment, healthcare, economic resilience and environmental quality were listed as key challenges facing their city by residents in Hong Kong, mainland China GBA cities, Singapore and Shanghai.

Meta lays out moves being made to build the metaverse

Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday talked up his company’s efforts to build the metaverse, an immersive virtual world he has billed as the Facebook parent’s future.

Doubts have swirled about whether the major metaverse investments will pay off for Meta, which changed its name from Facebook last year to highlight its shifting focus — though critics claim it was to distract from negative media reports.

Meta’s early metaverse platform, called Horizon Worlds, already allows people to socialise virtually while represented by avatars.

“The kinds of experiences you’ll have in the metaverse are beyond what’s possible today,” Zuckerberg said as he opened a conference aiming to offer a glimpse inside Meta’s development labs.

“That’s going to require advances in a whole range of areas from hardware devices to software for building and exploring worlds.”

Artificial intelligence is key to unlocking those advances, according to Zuckerberg, who noted that future platforms will need to be able to understand virtual worlds and provide translation services for the many languages used in them.

Hit global video games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox, which run on traditional gaming platforms, are seen as precursors to the metaverse.

But rivals are not letting Meta’s claim to the metaverse go unchallenged.

Google, which stumbled early with augmented reality glasses, has a team of engineers, designers, and scientists “building the foundations for great immersive computing”, according to an online job posting.

Apple, meanwhile, has bought start-ups specialising in the field and is rumoured to be working on its own mixed-reality headgear.

Microsoft, a video game industry powerhouse through its Xbox system and titles such as “Minecraft”, has made a US$69 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard, mentioning the metaverse as part of its motivation for the merger.

Meta’s stock price has plummeted since its most recent quarterly earnings showed growth slipping and its revenue taking a major hit due to Apple’s changes to its ad targeting rules.

In addition to Facebook, Meta’s products include Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and virtual reality headset Oculus.

On Wednesday, Meta shares sank lower than US$200 for the first time in nearly two years.

What are startups and what are the available startups in Malaysia?

NEXEA is Malaysia’s top Angel Investment Network, and they invest in Southeast Asian startups. NEXEA contains a big network of angel investors who invest and mentor startups because of their established track record and several high-growth startup in their portfolio.

A startup is a small business that focuses on technology-based products and is founded by one or more entrepreneurs with the goal of creating and marketing a unique product or service. The average startup is, by definition, a shoestring operation, with the founders’ or their friends’ and family’s initial capital. One of the startup’s first goals is to raise a significant sum of money in order to continue developing the product. To do so, they’ll need good pitch decks, if not a minimal viable product, to back up their claim that their idea is actually novel or significantly better than what’s already on the market.

Some of the startups in Malaysia are NEXEA, Muru-ku, MaGIC, Angel.co and Gust. At NEXEA, it provides you with all of the information you require about starting a business in Malaysia. The website will walk you through everything you need to know about startups, including the definition, stages, and how to create and fund them, as well as resources. Muru-startup ku’s list includes over a hundred Malaysian startups. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as fintech and e-commerce, are among the industries represented by these firms. The Startup Stash startup list is available. MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre) is a Malaysian innovation and creativity centre in Cyberjaya, Selangor. MaGIC has their own startup list, which you can find here. Gust, for example, allows you to search for businesses from their own startup list. There are several possibilities for sorting, ranging from industry to location. Angel.co has created their own database of Malaysian businesses.

NEXEA is Malaysia’s top Angel Investment Network, and we invest in Southeast Asian startups. We have a big network of angel investors who invest and mentor Startups because of our established track record and several high-growth Startups in our portfolio. The way we work with investors and startups at NEXEA Angel Investment Network is unique. We don’t make any money until our investors do, and even then, we just take a cut of the profit. We believe that pay in Startup investments should be harmonised between fund managers and investors. Every year, we receive 1500 applications from a list of over 7000 businesses. NEXEA is mostly interested in IT firms.

Therefore, we are extremely inspired to dramatically enhance return rates, find just the top Startups to invest in. Secondly, to guide our Startups, we exclusively hire the greatest mentors (Successful CEOs, Entrepreneurs and C-Suites). Thirdly, only get the best corporate partners to join us as partners, customers, and buyers of our startups.

Check out our Entrepreneurs Programme and Corporate Accelerator as well.