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Tech News

15-09-2017
Innovation and Technology Venture Fund

The Government has launched the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund on 15-09-2017. It is now open for application by venture capital funds to become co-investment partners (Deadline: 15-01-2018). A briefing session will be held on 03-10-2017 at the Hong Kong Science Park. Interested venture capital funds are welcome to attend.

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23-01-2018
Novarica says emerging tech deployment among insurers rare

A new Novarica study titled “Emerging Technology in Insurance: AI, Big Data, Chatbots, IoT, RPA, and More” suggests that insurers are slow at adopting emerging technologies. Novarica groups artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, big data, blockchain, chatbots, drones, mobile, predictive analytics, robotic process automation, sensors and telematics, smart home, and wearables as emerging technologies.“Technology changes faster than culture and practice at most insurance companies—insurers that want to fully leverage the capabilities enabled by emerging technology should look at their products and processes in the light of new technical, market, and customer realities,” said Matthew Josefowicz, President and CEO of Novarica, and lead author of the report.The analyst says that with the exception of mobile and predictive analytics, none of these emerging technologies are adopted by more than one in four insurers today.The most pilot activity is in digital and analytics areas like artificial intelligence, big data, sensors, drones, RPA, and chatbots. Insurers are looking to these technologies to improve risk selection, claims, service, and operating efficiency.For life/annuity insurers, the focus is primarily on improving marketing and customer engagement. For property/casualty insurers, it’s primarily on improving underwriting and claims. In both cases, the growth of these capabilities should lead to improved risk selection, streamlined processes, and better business results for insurers in 2018 and beyond.Figure 1: Deployment rates among insurers in 2018Source: Novarica 2018“The growth of these capabilities should lead to improved risk selection, streamlined processes, and better business results for insurers in 2018 and beyond,” Josefowicz added.Areas with low consumer adoption aren’t generating much interest from insurers yet. Augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, smart home automation, and wearables are still over the horizon for most insurers.It does concede that based on reported pilot activity, areas like AI, big data, chatbots, sensors and telematics, drones, and RPA are poised for growth. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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22-01-2018
Fiji government to construct cable landing station in Savusavu for high-speed Internet

As part of the Fijian government’s commitment to make high-speed Internet services available on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, Fiji has commissioned Swedish Internet infrastructure specialist Flexenclosure for the construction of an eCentre cable landing station in Savusavu. The cable will connect to the Tui-Samoa undersea cable, providing a high-capacity and high-availability fiber-optic link between Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, and Vanua Levu.This Fijian government initiative will be a big boost to the local economy and provide more jobs and opportunities for job creation in the ICT sector, along with greater telecommunications security between the two main islands to ensure uninterrupted emergency communications during severe weather events.  It is estimated that Vanua Levu will have full access to high-speed Internet services within the first half of this year.“The construction of this eCentre is a major step forward in our campaign to bring all Fijians, regardless of geography, into the fold to meet the demands of a dynamic 21st century economy,” said Fiji's Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “This project will bring the level of services available on Vanua Levu on par with what can be found on our main island, Viti Levu, bringing enormous benefits for local businesses and opportunities for jobs in ICT, making the entire region riper for investment. For ordinary people, the benefits of high speed Internet access are limitless; it means more accessible public services, more high-paying jobs, and it means that they will enjoy connections with their fellow Fijians and with the rest of the world like never before.”This order from Fiji follows three cable landing station wins for Flexenclosure in 2017 – one with BSCC in Palau and two with SSCC in Samoa.  The new facilities will be instrumental in increasing the availability and reducing the cost of Internet services to these remote island nations.“We are honored to be supporting the Fijian Government in their ongoing digital transformation of the country”, said David King, CEO, Flexenclosure.  “We are fully committed to the Pacific region, and following our deployments in Palau and Samoa this Fijian project confirms our status as a major force in the Pacific cable landing station market.”Flexenclosure is a specialist designer and manufacturer of prefabricated eCentre cable landing stations specifically for the submarine cable industry. They can be built to accommodate permanent staff or to be unmanned 24x7 facilities. And with eCentre’s modular construction, the facilities can easily be expanded to accommodate additional equipment as data traffic grows, all without interrupting on-going operations.Flexenclosure has pioneered the deployment of prefabricated data center technology into developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and is expanding in the Pacific region with its cable landing station projects and a major data center initiative recently announced with Virtutel in Australia.

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22-01-2018
Explainable AI tech to help predict readmissions and improve patient outcomes

On 14 December 2017, Partners Connected Health and Hitachi Ltd. announced the development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by Hitachi, in collaboration with Partners Connected Health, which can predict with high accuracy, the risk of hospital readmissions within 30 days for patients with heart failure.The AI technology helps select appropriate patients to participate in a readmission prevention program following hospital discharge, and can explain the reason why patients were identified as being at high risk. The 30-day readmission rate is regarded as one of the important indicators in hospital management, and can carry significant penalties for hospitals via the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) as part of the Affordable Care Act.This technology is an example of explainable AI, a new term currently defined as enabling machines to explain their decisions and actions to human users, and enabling them to understand, appropriately trust and effectively manage AI tools, while maintaining a high level of prediction accuracy."Traditional machine learning can help us predict events, but as end-users, we can't tell why the machine is predicting something a certain way," said Kamal Jethwani, MD, MPH, Senior Director, Partners Connected Health Innovation. "With this innovation, doctors and nurses using the algorithm will be able to tell exactly why a certain patient is at high risk for hospital admission, and what they can do about it. We want to enable our providers to act on this information, which is a step beyond the state-of-the-art today, in terms of machine learning algorithms."As part of the study, the Partners Connected Health Innovation team simulated the readmission prediction program among heart failure patients participating in the Partners Connected Cardiac Care Program (CCCP), a remote monitoring and education program designed to improve the management of heart failure patients at risk for hospitalization.These results were compared to data from approximately 12,000 heart failure patients hospitalized and discharged from the Partners HealthCare hospital network in 2014 and 2015. The analysis showed the prediction algorithm achieved a high accuracy of approximately AUC 0.71, and can significantly reduce the number of patient readmissions. (AUC, area under the curve, is a measure of prediction model performance with an ideal value range from 0 to 1.) As a result, approximately an additional US $7,000 savings per patient per year among the cohort of CCCP patients can be expected.Hitachi's new AI technology uses deep learning to construct this prediction model. With conventional deep learning models, it is difficult for users to understand why the AI predicted a particular outcome. This presents a challenge for its adoption in healthcare. To address this problem, Hitachi developed a technology for risk prediction with analyzing the results presented by deep learning and extracting the several dozens of actionable factors for each patient from the vast amount of data collected from heart failure patients. These are elements familiar to clinicians and can support medical decision-making in clinical practice. Through a standard statistical approach based on this risk prediction model, the extracted factors were used to calculate the risk of hospital readmission, and the relevance of the factors was calculated. Thus, this explainable AI technology can enhance prediction accuracy and the quality of medical decision-making.Hitachi and the Partners Connected Health Innovation team will jointly conduct a prospective study, which evaluates the prediction program by clinicians, and study how to integrate this within clinical workflows. By using this new AI technology, Hitachi will provide solutions for the medical field, including solutions for insurance and pharmaceutical companies, emergency services, and other healthcare services where prediction-based on medical data can be utilized.

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22-01-2018
HKPC warns of more financially-motivated cyberattacks in 2018

With the growing trend of financially-motivated cybercrimes, information security experts at the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) urges enterprises and the public to strengthen their defense against ransom-based cyber-attacks.HKPC issued the advice after its Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (HKCERT) reported a 7% rise in security incident reports in Hong Kong in 2017, totaling 6,506, as compared to 2016. For the second successive year, Malware cases (2,041 cases or 31%) saw the biggest surge, rising by 79%, and joined Botnet (2,084 cases or 32%) and Phishing (1,680 cases or 26%) as the principal sources of the reports.Among all malware reports, despite fewer Ransomware incident reports (178 cases) were made to HKCERT last year, there were 1,210 bot-Wannacry cases. These involved large numbers of computers being infected by the notorious Wannacry ransomware that rocked the world last May, but encryption was yet to be triggered.Analyzing the upcoming security trend, Wilson Wong, General Manager (Information Technology) of HKPC, said: “Financially-motivated cyber-attacks will continue to proliferate due to the wider availability of paid cybercrime and one-stop attack services for criminals. The growing use of Internet-enabled devices in all aspects of life, and the popularity of mobile payment services will attract more attacks on ‘Internet of Things’ devices and mobile payment apps in 2018. In addition, more attacks targeting service providers with the aim to bypass users’ defense are anticipated.”The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU), which is applicable to whoever that have dealings with EU citizens or organizations, will come into effect in May 2018 under which more stringent controls on the collection, processing, storage and transfer of personal data, and breach notification will be adopted. It will put many related companies under extra cyber security pressure.Offering advice to the community, Wong said, “Enterprises must restrict the exposure of corporate data and services to the Internet and their service partners. In addition, two-factor authentication should be applied for sensitive services and software updates must be tested before actual deployment. Regularly backup data and keeping an offline copy can also minimize the impact of ransomware attacks. Meanwhile, software providers and mobile apps developers should take steps to defend against infiltration in order to protect their customers in the downstream.”In 2018, on top of continuing to offer early warning, preventive advice, incident response and security awareness for enterprises and Internet users, HKCERT will embrace social media to disseminate up-to-the-minute security advisory. It will also work with key players in the Internet infrastructure to promote best security practice as part of a wider effort to position Hong Kong as a safe Internet hub.

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22-01-2018
Singapore gov't completes safety and security trials with NEC

NEC Corporation and NEC Asia Pacific have announced the successful completion of three safety and security test bed projects, held in and near Jurong Island, under the Safety and Security Industry Program (SSIP) 2020. The SSIP 2020 is led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and done in collaboration with JTC.The three trials were conducted over a period of 12 months from September 2016, and are aimed at using data analytics and security insights to address Singapore's safety and security needs. The trials involved early detection of suspicious behavior, off-site security clearance of authorized personnel and on-the-spot enrollment for first-time visitor access to controlled areas.In the first trial, NEC provided and tested a system that utilized its high performance NeoFace Facial Recognition software together with the Intelligent Complex Event Processing engine which correlates audio and video analytics, to detect suspicious behavior and identify Persons of Interest (POIs) in both indoor and outdoor areas.The second trial facilitated off-site security clearance for entry of authorized personnel into Jurong Island, thus reducing congestion at checkpoints. NEC provided and tested a Bus Sensors Monitoring Management System using customized tamper-proof security sensors to prevent unauthorized opening of vehicle doors during bus journeys.The third trial tested the feasibility of an automated system to provide a more efficient method of enrolling first-time visitors for entry into Jurong Island. The system leveraged NEC's biometric solution to expedite clearance of such visitors via on-the-spot facial and fingerprint recognition enrollment at car inspection bays.For all the 3 trials, the technologies provided real-time monitoring and alerts to the simulated Command Centre, to inform the authorities of activities which may require law enforcement action.As one of the world leaders in ICT and Public Safety solutions, NEC hopes to further collaborate with the government to address heightened security threats in the areas of critical infrastructure, border control and city surveillance for a safer and more secure Singapore. 

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21-01-2018
SC Ventures to spearhead digital innovation at StanChart

Standard Chartered Bank announced that a new business unit, SC Ventures (SCV), will spearhead the bank’s digital innovation across the Group. Included in SCV’s mandate will be to invest in Fintechs and other start-up companies, promote rapid testing and implementation of new business models.Leading SC Ventures will be Alex Manson who will work with businesses and functions across the Group in three key areas of catalysts, investments and ventures. Catalysts: Internal consultants will help the rest of the Group in problem-solving and spreading innovation best practices and client-centric design. The eXellerator innovation lab will be part of this group.Investments: A professional investment unit to manage the Group’s minority investments in Fintech companies and to seek further investments in promising technologies. The Bank has previously invested in Ripple, a leading distributed ledger company to co-develop commercially viable applications for global trade and payments and Paxata, a leading enterprise information management company.  Ventures: The Venture unit will sponsor and oversee new disruptive technology ventures that are wholly or partially owned by Standard Chartered.  It will seek projects that amplify the bank’s core strengths or where the bank can support a venture in a strategic way.According to Michael Gorriz, group chief information officer of Standard Chartered cited the importance of promoting more innovation while developing and delivering digital solutions that work for clients and for the bank.Manson sees SC Ventures as facilitator and catalyst to creating a culture of innovation, “working with its clients and colleagues to invent the banking of tomorrow,” he added.In 2015, Standard Chartered announced it was investing about US$3 billion over three years in technology and systems. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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21-01-2018
Smart hospitals part of digital transformation outcome says Frost

With a forecast of US$517 billion in 2018, Frost & Sullivan says the healthcare industry in Asia-Pacific will be one of the fastest growing regions in the world growing at 11.1% in 2018, compared to the global average of 4.8%. Fueling this growth is the combination of increased technology adoption, access to innovative healthcare programs and delivery of care outside traditional hospital settings.Key trends such as X-as-a-Service model will create new revenue streams driving future sustainability for the healthcare industry and Cloud will emerge as a core platform since all stakeholders need to expand storage flexibility. Finally, the ongoing digital transformation and the smart city concept will push the need for hospitals to become 'Smart Hospitals', with the Asia-Pacific countries driving this revolution.Ongoing challenges in APACHealthcare challenges of access and affordability of new technology demand complex and innovative solutions from all industry stakeholders. Issues around regulatory transitions, new business models, emerging technology platforms, evolving role of consumers and growth opportunities for industry participants including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technology manufacturers, digital health vendors and healthcare service providers are expected to continue. In addition, expect increased industry focus on healthcare outcomes vs cost and patient-centric treatment pathways says the analyst.“The role of healthcare consumers is changing dramatically in Asia-Pacific. Digital technology enables access to information and care; hence consumers are able to choose where, how, and by whom they would like to be treated. This is changing every business model in the region”, noted Rhenu Bhuller, partner, Frost & Sullivan.Karthik Rajan, head of Consulting for the Frost & Sullivan Transformational Health practice offers 5 growth influencers:Hospital expansion will continue to serve demand in emerging markets These include development of hospitals along with integrated primary care chains and specialist clinics through partnerships and venture funding. In addition to expansion in points of care outside of the hospital setting, there will be shifts in policy makers’ appetite for regulatory transformation to support goals for universal healthcare coverage and access and in private health insurers driving wellness and early intervention.Private health insurers to ease financial burden of ill-healthPrivate Health Insurance providers are experimenting with digital platforms for chronic disease management and wellness that reward patients for healthy behaviors and can potentially reduce the payout burden at a population level. They are also investing in InsurTech solutions as well as innovative distribution channels to improve market penetration.China and India to fuel outbound medical tourismMedical Tourism is also set to take on greater prominence in 2018. With six of the world’s top 10 medical tourist destinations, Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing region for medical tourism in 2018 with growth rates exceeding 15%. The increasing use of technology in areas such as minimally invasive surgery or teleconsultation for pre and post treatment follow up are providing further platforms for growth.ASEAN HarmonizationIn 2018, Singapore assumes chairmanship of ASEAN, bringing in the themes of “resilience” and “innovation”. Singapore will target boosting e-commerce and promoting development of smart cities across the region. Healthcare markets will benefit significantly from these initiatives, especially if the underlying issues like data protection and cybersecurity are actively addressed.Personalization plus consumer empowerment keys to prevention & wellnessDirect-to-consumer gene sequencing is moving towards services and solutions as companies like Prudential, iCarbonX and Healthi introduced personalized wellness interventions. On the other hand, companies like Thorne Research and Imagene Labs will make available personalized over-the-counter nutritional supplements and skin care products respectively, and that too on a subscription model. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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19-01-2018
Marketers are not integrating their multichannel campaigns effectively

The variety of channels available to marketers has increased exponentially, but ineffective multichannel strategies are jeopardizing the success of campaigns, says a new study from Kantar Millward Brown, who noted that more than half of marketers not integrating their multichannel campaigns effectively.Titled “AdReaction: The Art of Integration”, the new study examines the global state of multichannel advertising campaigns, drawing on quantitative research in 45 countries, multichannel copy testing, and custom analysis of Kantar Millward Brown’s global media effectiveness and copy testing databases.In the Asia Pacific, 78% of consumers surveyed report that they are seeing more ads in a wider variety of places than they did three years ago. Consumers in India see the most substantial uplift (91%), followed by the Philippines with 89%.Consumers across the region are split in their views on how well marketers are integrating their multichannel strategies however, with most in the Philippines (74%) and Vietnam (73%) agreeing that ads they see across channels such as TV, outdoor and digital ‘fit together well’. This contrasts with the experience of consumers in Korea (36%), Japan (35%) and Australia (48%) in more mature digital ecosystems however, where less than half believe the campaigns they see are integrated.“Consumers feel overwhelmed by advertising from all angles while marketers struggle to make the most of ad formats and channels to best reach consumers, and the latest AdReaction report unveils a disconnect between how marketers and consumers perceive campaign success,” said Duncan Southgate, the global brand director of media and digital at Kantar Millward Brown.“In AdReaction, we’ve laid out guiding principles to help marketers better integrate campaigns across channels and identified the key creative elements of successful campaigns as best practices,” he said.Pablo Gomez, who helms media and digital in the APAC noted that people are becoming “more judgmental” as a result of being exposed to more advertising than before. Notably, they also react to advertising differently depending on the channel and are the least receptive to ads on digital media.“Marketers need to start thinking intelligently about how they integrate their campaigns – are they putting enough focus on customization, is their creative strong enough throughout, have they selected the right media mix - so that they’re providing a holistic and enjoyable experience to the consumer,” said Gomez.Further reading:Attracting distracted customers with multi-channel marketing optimizationRise of multi-channel customer interactions in APACIncrease customer retention and loyalty with multichannel marketing Caption: Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

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18-01-2018
ASEAN to benefit from connectivity partnership

On 17 January 2018, Telekomunikasi Indonesia International Pte Ltd (Telin Singapore), a wholly-owned subsidiary of PT Telkom Group, and Super Sea Cable Networks Pte Ltd (SEAX), announced a strategic partnership to offer high capacity, low latency domestic network solutions in Singapore.The partnership can help regional operators enjoy a more diverse footprint in Singapore whilst meeting the increasing demands for bandwidth in the region. With SEA Cable Exchange-1 (SEAX-1) landing in Tanah Merah (Singapore) coupled with Telin Singapore’s scalable and protected dark fiber ring connecting Telin Singapore’s carrier neutral data centers and carrier hotels in Singapore, operators can enjoy seamless connectivity in the region.Scheduled to launch in Q1 2018, SEAX-1 is a 250km high-speed, large capacity, 24-fibre pair undersea fiber optic cable that will connect Mersing (Malaysia), Changi (Singapore), and Batam (Indonesia).With SEAX-1 landing in Telin-2 and Telin-3 Data Centers, Telin Singapore’s flagship data centers coupled with virtual data centers connect to Indonesia and regional countries to provide digital products and services.“SEAX is pleased to partner with Telin Singapore in providing our customers with high-capacity submarine cable connectivity to implement its plan to be one of the leaders in ASEAN to establish an ASEAN broadband corridor. This is in line with the ASEAN’s ICT focus, which is expected to be an engine of growth for the region. The partnership with Telin Singapore, a member of Telkom Indonesia Group, is a step closer to realizing this,” said Joseph Lim, CEO of Super Sea Cable Networks Pte Ltd."This strategic partnership with SEAX will enhance our capabilities at Telin-3 Data Centre and Telecommunication Hub offering both seamless domestic and global connectivity for our customers. This will also strengthen our commitment to provide reliable, secure and seamless regional and global telecommunications connectivity services to meet the increasing demand for bandwidth capacity, colocation and critical IT infrastructure services in this region," said Andreuw Th.A.F, CEO of Telin Singapore. Caption: Andreuw Th.A.F, CEO of Telin Singapore (right), and Joseph Lim, CEO of SEAX (left) at the signing ceremony

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18-01-2018
Yang Kee Logistics delivers on business transformation

Yang Kee has come a long way since it started transporting goods in Singapore with only two trucks in 1990.Thanks to its continuous drive to transform, the company has become one of the top logistics and warehousing solutions providers, offering end-to-end global supply chain logistics. Now with its deployment of NetSuite OneWorld, Yang Kee is confident it can fast-track its business growth and transformation. The logistics company was formerly using Navision and MYOB to manage its finance and operations. As it continued to globalize, these non-scalable applications were threatening to derail its growth momentum. Not only were manual data entry and reconciliation prone to human error and delaying month-end closing activities, reporting on financial consolidation and getting operational visibility were just as challenging. This made it difficult and time-consuming to retrieve the insights needed to make critical decisions that take the business forward. Since LanciaConsult implemented NetSuite OneWorld for Yang Kee, these challenges are a thing of the past. Managing invoicing and procurement through NetSuite gives Yang Kee real-time visibility into revenue and cost. The company can also consolidate the financial performance of its parent business and subsidiaries immediately, ensuring it stays on track for its IPO and Vision 2020 business transformation. “Before deploying NetSuite with LanciaConsult, we were constantly questioning the integrity of our data, and spending excessive time on consolidation. Now, we can make strategic business decisions faster and focus on our growth objectives,” said Jos Raaymakers, CEO of Yang Kee Logistics.  

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18-01-2018
Humans still more trustworthy than algo says research

New data from Juniper Research suggests that by 2022 fully automated robo-advisors (digital wealth management platforms) will manage US$987 billion per annum in AUM (assets under management). Automated robo-advisors will account for 25% of total robo-advisor AUM with its growth outpacing other semi-automated, supervised deployment types with lesser reliance on AI, by some margin.These robo-advisors are forecast to grow their AUM at close to 155% per annum on average versus 69% growth for the overall market according to Juniper.In AI we trust?RELATED: Cashing in on China's USD 2.2 trillion robo-advisory marketIn the Juniper whitepaper, Should You Trust an AI with Your Cash, the researcher says the constraint of limited human advisors is forcing wealth management firms to look for alternatives – robo-advisors is the answer.Table 1: Role of AI in Robo-advisorsSource: Juniper ResearchIntegration of AI into portfolio management software offers service providers a substantial time saving. Data gathering and interpretation is performed by the AI, within the context of the customer’s appetite for risk and existing investment.The challenge for roboadvisors targeting the mass market (ie below $20,000 minimum initial investment) is achieving a profitable business model. Given that fees charged are almost always under 1% (to present themselves as competitive versus incumbent players), profitability is determined by the ability to achieve sufficient AUM.According to the Juniper research, AI in Fintech: Roboadvisors, Lending, Insurtech & Regtech 2018-2022, consumer trust will play a fundamental role in shaping the market during the forecast period.For this reason, Juniper predicts that ‘hybrid’ robo-advisors would dominate the market, managing 66% of global robo-advisory AUM in 2022. It noted that human advisor input plays a key role here, serving to allay consumers’ fears of handing management of their cash over to an algorithm.RELATED: Robo-advisory and its role in capital managementHowever, the research predicts that while key market forces, such as economic uncertainty and increasing awareness of services would drive the overall market, changing demographics will kickstart demand for fully-automated robo-advisors.“Digital-savvy millennials are rapidly reaching the age where the idea of financial planning is an important consideration,” noted research author Steffen Sorrell (photo left). “This demographics’ greater inherent trust in algorithms, alongside demand for ‘fire-and-forget’ convenience will drive take-up for AI fully-managed services.”Consolidation aheadMeanwhile, the research predicted that market consolidation was highly likely in the near-term, particularly in more mature robo-advisory markets, such as the US.It argued that strong competition and high customer acquisition costs meant that many services would be unable to reach the AUM ‘tipping point’ necessary to generate profits. Juniper noted this would impact semi-automated robo-advisory services the most, owing to their reliance on human advisors and relatively low AUMs. It argued that for these reasons, many service providers would make themselves a target for acquisition. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto

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18-01-2018
BSA: Digital transformation requires new framework for digital trade

Software is a critical catalyst for the global economy, and a key enabler for organizations in every industry sector to succeed. The software industry has transformed in recent years, with the introduction of cloud computing, smart devices, and data analytics.Business innovation moves very quickly, with changes continuing at a rapid rate as technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous devices, blockchain, and “smart” contracts are each reshaping how software is used.Today’s digital economy calls for a well-constructed and modern trade agreement that includes truly 21st century obligations that drive job creation, competitiveness and innovation, says BSA - The Software Alliance.In a paper entitled Modernizing Digital Trade: An Agenda for Software, the software industry alliance body said: “Data has transformed commerce for businesses of all sizes, from small entrepreneurial companies to large manufacturers. The software we rely upon depends on the rapid and seamless movement of data across borders.”“Software services enable the technology of today as well as of the future. As the world continues to evolve, trade agreements need to allow for new innovations to flourish.”BSA argues that no digital trade framework would be complete without protections for the development of emerging technologies, which allow companies to expand and create new jobs. These provisions are therefore, in its opinion, critical for the future of the global economy.As the largest global alliance of software companies, BSA strongly supports a modern agreement that:Builds on existing international law on e-commerce and the emerging international consensus on digital trade Addresses the current and anticipated challenges faced by the software industry Establishes rules in evolving areas, especially on data-driven economic activity“The driving principle should be: no market access barriers and no discrimination against innovative software services,” it said.BSA advocates that key elements of a trade agreement for the digital economy should include:DATA ECONOMYPrivacy and security are imperatives. But governments often invoke privacy or security as a rationalization for creating market access barriers.Free movement of data across borders: Given the importance of cross-border data to the modern economy, governments must use privacy or security policies only as necessary, and never as disguised market access barriers. No data localization: Governments should not use data localization requirements as a market access barrier. For example, governments should not require that a data center be built inside its borders as a condition for doing business in a country. Electronic signatures: National laws should recognize electronic signatures in commercial transactions, including “smart” contracts.TECHNOLOGY IN GOVERNMENTTechnology in government: Governments should promote the use of innovative technology in government operations as they provide services to their citizens. Procurement: Procurement rules should be changed to reflect the 21st century needs of governments. Choice: Companies and government agencies should be free to use the technology of their choice and not be required to use local technologyREGULATIONStrong support for encryption: Governments should not undermine encryption in commercial products by imposing restrictions on security technologies used to safeguard against intrusions. International standards: Governments should not force companies to use conflicting national standards. State-owned enterprises: Governments should not favor state-owned enterprises through discriminatory regulation or subsidies. No forced technology transfer: Governments should not force companies to transfer their technology, or to disclose trade secrets or source code in order to have market access. No customs duties on electronic transmissions: Governments should not impose customs duties on the telecommunications value of electronic transmissions or on data being transmitted.INTELLECTUAL PROPERTYCopyright rules: Governments should have copyright rules in line with international standards with appropriate exceptions and safeguards, clear rules permitting commercial data gathering, and rules ensuring that ISPs are protected from liability for unlawful content posted by third parties. Legal software: Governments should use legal software in government agencies. Cyber-theft penalties: Governments should have criminal penalties for cyber theft of trade secrets. Patent protections: Governments should have non-discriminatory protection for software patents.

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17-01-2018
SWIFT, CSDs join forces for distributed ledger use in securities markets

SWIFT and seven central securities depositories (CSDs) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to demonstrate how distributed ledger technology could be implemented in post-trade scenarios, such as corporate actions processing, including voting and proxy-voting.The group will investigate the types of new products that can be built using it, and how existing standards such as ISO 20022 can support it.Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Caja de Valores, Depósito Central de Valores, Nasdaq Market Technology AB, National Settlement Depository, SIX Securities Services and Strate Ltd are among the CSDs participating in the DLT project with SWIFT. Additional CSDs are expected to join in the coming weeks.Today, securities processing, particularly in areas requiring multi-party contact, involve cumbersome manual processes that can carry significant inherent cost and risk. As a part of the MOU, SWIFT and the CSDs have defined the product requirements for an e-voting solution based on DLT that includes common standards (ISO 20022) and principles.The project aims to focus on standardization, and re-using established business definitions facilitating interoperability around DLT deployments.Other aspects of the MOU include fostering collaboration amongst the CSD community in DLT research and development, helping define the role of financial market infrastructure providers in markets based on distributed ledgers and; identifying, defining and developing additional use cases for DLT in a CSD environment and the post-trade landscape, such as services for different kinds of DLT-based digital assets.In addition, the group will focus on creating and adapting common standards and principles for the use of DLT amongst CSDs and the financial industry, and promoting the adoption of those standards and principles to other parties, including regulators.

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17-01-2018
Income offers integrated policy digitally in Singapore

NTUC Income (“Income”) has claimed has claimed to be the first health insurer in Singapore to offer Integrated Shield Plan (IP) digitally today via an online portal.According to the insurer, much of the fact-finding, decision-making and purchasing of IP could only be made offline, prior to the portal’s launch. While quotes could be obtained online, an insurance advisor was still needed to follow up with clients before the purchase couldbe completed.The portal’s launch aims to heightened accessibility, convenience and speed with IP can be purchased, claimed and managed.Significantly, customers with no pre-existing health conditions will enjoy instant approval and coverage within five-to-10 minute of the application. Claiming a pre and post-hospitalisation bill can also be completed in seconds by submitting a photo of the bill to the online portal, eliminating the hassle of paper submissions.To help customers understand the benefit of a private health insurance plan and to make informed decisions about purchasing an IP, the online portal , which is open to Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents below 61 years old, offers scenario-based illustrations, as well as, easy-to-understand explainers on common health insurance terms such as ‘rider’, ‘as charged’ and ‘deductible’.Another value-added feature is its Google-like search function, the Coverage Checker, which allows policyholders to assess a suitable hospital ward type and obtain an estimation of their bill size by selecting from about 80 common medical treatments based on Income’s claims records. While this feature offers coverage clarity in a jiffy, customers can also engage with a chatbot directly on the online portal for general queries, or questions on upgrading or downgrading their existing IncomeShield plans or riders, from March.Peter Tay, Income’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “The new digital proposition plays to the way customers access, engage and use information digitally these days. They are accustomed to quick gratifications from online transactions that are often supported by a seamless user experience. In this regard, we aim to live-up to such an expectation and have designed our customer journey on the new online portal based on feedback from consumers. We see value in setting a new standard for customers - old and new - to learn about, engage with and enjoy a positive experience with IP as it is such an essential scheme to safeguard the long-term medical and hospitalisation needs of Singaporeans at large.”To ensure that customers do not run the risk of over-riding their in-force IP plans, the online portal  safeguards customers by embarking on a mandatory check at the start of the customer journey and decline those who currently enjoy IP protection. Customers are also offered an extended free-look period of 90 days compared to the usual 21 days to give them additional peace of mind.

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17-01-2018
ACI launches omni-channel solution for merchants in the cloud

ACI Worldwide’s UP Merchant Payments solution is now available in the cloud. Based on a multi-tenant architecture, the solution aims to offer the scalability required to meet the channel growth needs of merchants.UP Merchant Payments provides omni-channel payments and fraud management capabilities that support business and revenue growth needs through any channel, anytime and anywhere that customers want to transact.The solution supports a variety of in-store, eCommerce and digital channels, providing the framework for merchants across multiple verticals – including retail, dining, telco, travel, gaming and more – to create and manage a customer-centric experience. Advanced merchant fraud prevention and payment data security tools reduce risk, while protecting the bottom line.Via a multi-tenant cloud-based delivery option, UP Merchant Payments aims to minimize the costs and resources needed to maintain payment systems. Along with other UP-enabled cloud offerings, UP Merchant Payments is delivered from ACI’s fully redundant data center facilities, which are specifically designed to support mission-critical payment solutions while providing the utmost in reliability, security and data privacy.“As merchants continue to find creative ways to serve their customers—across new and engaging channels—it is imperative that they not lose sight of critical components like payments and fraud management, which are integral to the customer experience,” said Thad Peterson, senior analyst, Aite. “But merchants need to focus on what they do best—selling goods. Most neither have the time nor the expertise to allocate resources for managing these complex IT services.”With the cloud-based UP Merchant Payments solution, merchants are expected to be able to enhance their digital and secure payments credentials with ACI’s SaaS-based point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and tokenization offerings to protect their customers’ cardholder data. ACI’s dedicated cloud-hosted offering aims to provide the stability and scalability to support growth, as well as reduces the scope of PCI-compliance requirements.“Securing customer payment information and managing fraud are integral to any merchant’s digital payment strategy, especially as they scale their operations and payment options,” said Mike Braatz, senior vice president, ACI Worldwide. “As more organizations work to streamline the payments experience for their customers, they’re turning to ACI—and our extensive history of powering secure, flexible and scalable payments—and freeing themselves up to focus on the success of their businesses.” 

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