Hyundai Oilbank and Air Products sign MoU for hydrogen power

South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank will work with Air Products & Chemicals Ltd., the world’s leading hydrogen supplier, to develop hydrogen technology and business models.

Hyundai Oilbank and Air Products signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in producing hydrogen and its applications in various areas.

The major refiner said it will adopt Air Products’ technology to produce hydrogen using natural gas and crude byproducts for use in vehicles and power generation. Air Products, based in Philadelphia, is the world’s leading supplier of hydrogen and hydrogen mobility solutions with over 60 years of experience.

Hyundai Oilbank said it plans to produce 10,000 tons of “blue” hydrogen by 2025 and develop a business model for “green” hydrogen in collaboration with Air Products to switch to the less carbon-intensive business model. Further Hyundai Oilbank aims to reduce the ratio of its refinery business from the current 85 percent of the total to 50 per cent by 2030 to reduce its carbon emissions and diversify its energy mix.

Hydrogen option for clean energy

Hydrogen has emerged as an important part of the clean energy mix needed to ensure a sustainable future. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security.

Falling costs for hydrogen produced with renewable energy, combined with the urgency of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, has given clean hydrogen unprecedented political and business momentum, according to a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

In February this year, Atos and HDF Energy announced their plan to develop a complete end-to-end long-term solution to supply data centres with green hydrogen generated by renewable energy. The new solution by Atos and HDF will be the first available on the market for data centres with heavy power consuming workloads, company officials said. HDF Energy is an Independent Power Producer (IPP) focussing on utility-scale clean power generation.

Currently, there are three ways to make hydrogen. Grey hydrogen is produced when the element is stripped out of fossil fuels, while blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas and produces less CO2.

Green hydrogen is the cleanest variety as it uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen from water, according to industry watchers.

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Post Hong Kong listing, Trip.com Group lines up expansion plans

Following its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Trip.com Group plans to invest in technology expand its one-stop travel offerings and improve user experience.

Trip.com Group is a one-stop travel service provider comprising of Trip.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Qunar.

At its listing in the HK Stock Exchange, Trip.com Group said that plans to use the net proceeds from this listing to fund the expansion of its one-stop travel offerings and improve user experience, invest in technology to bolster its leading market position in products and services and improve its operating efficiency, and for general corporate purposes and working capital needs.

From the onset of the global pandemic Trip.com Group has played an active role in supporting travellers and partners around the world. In June 2020, the travel group launched its Travel On initiative to provide vital support to partners and rollout a series of tailored travel products and services to enable and inspire travel, the company said.

Trip.com Group’s efforts to kick-start the safe return of global travel include introducing the Safe Travels protocol with the World Travel & Tourism Council, the launch of the company’s COVID-19 International Traveller’s Guide, and its recent announcement on joining forces with the Common Project Foundation and World Economic Forum to co-develop initiatives that enable safer cross-border travel, it added.

Trip.com Group recently unveiled its plans to boost its content ecosystem and partner marketing capabilities with the launch of its new travel marketing strategy designed to allow suppliers to expand and enhance their marketing activities on (Trip.com) Group platforms. This latest move coincides with the travel group’s commitment to building a one-stop travel platform, integrating differentiated travel content, driving huge traffic volume and providing comprehensive travel products to meet the evolving needs of the post-pandemic traveller and further support partners.

The Group is now dual listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock exchange in the US (under TCOM), the first global travel group to do so.

A 22-year journey

James Liang, co-founder and chairman of the board, in his speech at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing ceremony said, “22 years ago, we began in a 40m2 office with only a handful of employees. Today, we have tens of thousands of employees worldwide. It is my honour to have our representative users strike the gong and open trading on this momentous occasion. I want to thank every single customer, partner, sponsor and traveller who has supported us throughout our 22 year journey.”

In the 22 years from 1999 to 2021, Trip.com Group has grown from 784 registered users on a single platform at its inception to now owning and operating a range of leading travel services platforms with hundreds of millions of users worldwide. In the past 22 years, Trip.com Group has been at the forefront of the development of China’s Internet, travel and service industries, expanding its global presence over the last two decades to become one of the world’s leading travel service providers.

The digitalisation drive is a key area that businesses in the hospitality sector are focussing on. The use of data insights will future prove firms as they navigate the ever-changing market of the hospitality industry.

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With APG partnership, Legan owns 80% in DC operator OneAsia

Financial major APG, on behalf of its Dutch pension fund clients, has acquired a 20 per cent stake in OneAsia, a leading data centre operator.

OneAsia has established its extensive infrastructure coverage in Hong Kong and Greater China. The partnership will escalate the momentum of its footprint extension and its diversified reach further into North and South East Asia, through a pipeline of opportunities in China, Japan, Korea and Thailand, the company said.

OneAsia operates toptier rated data centres and offers services across Hong Kong, Shanghai and Nantong.

The companies did not give out details of the financial transaction. However, after this investment by APG, Legan owns 80 per cent in OneAsia. Established in 1992, Legan provides total solutions for critical environments, IT infrastructure, cloud and data center services in Asia.

Accelerating DC expansion

“We are very pleased to partner with APG,” said Charles Lee, Founder and CEO of OneAsia. “We are convinced that the partnership with APG will accelerate our expansion in the high-growth data centre market, especially when we are extending our network into other countries in Asia.”

APG is an experienced global investor with highly diversified investments. OneAsia is ready to work with APG in elevating the company to another platform and promoting Environment Sustainability Goal (ESG) development.

“With the increase in data usagefor all aspects of our social and business lives, we identified the need to make a strategic and global allocation to this asset class. However, with the rate of change in technology it is important to invest alongside partners that will keep us ahead in terms of development and innovation.

OneAsia‘s track record in this respect and it’s aspirations in the field of ESG made them an obvious partner for us. We are delighted to be partnering with Charles Lee and his team”, said Graeme Torre, Head of Real Estate at APG Asset Management Asia.

Financial institutions globally are showing an increasing appetite to invest in data centres. In March, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust’s manager announced its plan to acquire 11 data centres across Europe from subsidiaries of Digital Realty Trust, worth a total consideration of about US$904.6 million.

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How Bussr and Nekla partnership could be a gamechanger in Digital Payments

Singapore-based transport technology provider Bussr will offer its passengers a digital payment option through payment provider Nekla.

This partnership millions of underbanked users to pay for Bussr services easily. Nekla is founded by Silicon Valley and Wall Street pioneers.

Nekla is creating a global payment ecosystem which can be accessed by anyone with a $30 smartphone and data access. Download the app, deposit local currency to your account from a third-party financial service provider, or deposit cash in a retail store. You then have digital currency that can be used almost anywhere on earth.

Bussr was founded two years ago by entrepreneurs Hussein Abdelkarim and IM Shousha. The app is a platform that caters to all segments of South-East Asia’s US$30 billion mobility market including ride-sharing, public buses, private buses, scooter rentals, and car pooling.

This partnership will allow Bussr to rapidly expand the scope of their operations to the 5.7 billion people in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and beyond. It’s numbers like that which make Bussr believe they will earn a large share of the global transit and ground passenger transportation market that is predicted to reach US$908.8 billion by 2027.

Bussr currently operates across more than 500 cities, with over 830 transport operators, 60-plus payment partners, and more than 100,000 retail stores. While Bussr has already seen more than 12 million passengers use their platform in less than two years, they believe it is Nekla’s digital-based payment platform that will lead to ubiquity on a global scale.

The under-banked conundrum

A challenge Bussr has been facing, which Nekla addresses, is meeting the demand from emerging markets, where 1.7 billion adults are still locked out of the conventional banking system, even though half a billion of that population have access to the internet. This means over a third of the planet’s adult population is unbanked.

Take the example of Vietnam. According to a study in 2018 by Euromonitor, World Bank and Bain and Temasek, 69 per cent of the Vietnamese adult population do not have a bank account, the highest rate in Southeast Asia. https://w.media/vietnams-underbanked-are-fintech-startups-ready-to-take-on-telco-giants/

For Bussr, this means millions of customers who want to use their platform, but have no reliable way of paying.

Nekla’s technology can certainly address the issues of providing service to the unbanked with access to money, all the while benefiting from its inherent strengths of trustworthiness and transparency. But what really captured Bussr’s attention was how Nekla could make digital payments beginner-friendly and accessible to millions of people, according to company executives.

Front-line financial technologies, despite the headlines, are far from reaching mass adoption worldwide. After all, most people don’t have time to study complex algorithms to make a simple payment.

Bridge between real world and digital finance

Nekla believes that they can bridge the divide between the real world and the digital finance space, and trigger a global, mass uptake of digital finance with a beginner-friendly, easy-to-use payment and lending platform. Bussr’s Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) technology serves both as a mobile app for private travelers and a full journey ticketing, payment, and fleet management solution for cities and enterprises.

Its AI platform continuously monitors millions of data points to help large-scale transport operations perform at optimal efficiency for both passengers and operators.

Bussr is backed by high-profile investors, such as Bridford Group, Peng Ong of Monk’s Hill, Le Mercier Group, Jack Selby of Thiel Capital, Altitude Partners, Angela Huang, Duncan Clark, Founder of China BDA, Alibaba early investor and author of the book ‘The House That Jack Ma Built, Andrew Huang of Fountainvest, and Alfa Intelligence Capital. There are also strategic angel investors from Facebook, PayPal, Lyft, Spotify, Zoom, Didi, and Impossible Foods. The Bussr app operates in 2,500 destinations in South-East Asia.

On its part Nekla’s management team has managed the world’s largest internet ventures, led major digital transformation projects for governments and global consulting firms like PwC and Deloitte, and guided industry leaders, acting as Microsoft’s Chief Architect and Google’s Enterprise Architect in billion-customer markets.

With this experience and knowledge behind it, and with the backing of such influential partners, Nekla believes it can make Digital Finance the new norm for mass-adopted payments and lending around the world.

Facebook signs first deal with CleanMax to buy RE in India

In a first of its kind initiative, Facebook has signed a deal to buy renewable energy in India from CleanMax.

According to a Reuters report, the social media giant’s first such deal in South Asia, which will be procured from CleanMax’s 32 megawatt (MW) wind power project, located in southern state of Karnataka.

This is part of a larger portfolio of wind and solar projects that Facebook and Mumbai-based CleanMax are working together on for supplying renewable power into India’s electrical grid, they said in a joint statement.

CleanMax will own and operate the projects, while Facebook will buy the power off the grid using environmental attribute certificates, or carbon credits, the companies said. CleanMax has successfully installed 550+ rooftop solar projects for 170 corporates, with a total rooftop solar operating capacity of 250 MW. CleanMax also operates 450 MW of large-scale solar and wind farms for supplying clean energy to its corporate customers.

Facebook’s head of renewable energy, Urvi Parekh, told Reuters the company typically doesn’t own the power plants but instead signs ‘long-term’ electricity purchasing agreements with the renewable power company.

This development follows the one in Singapore, where Facebook announced similar partnerships with energy providers Sunseap Group, Terrenus Energy and Sembcorp Industries on projects that can produce 160 MW of solar power.

The electricity generated from these plants will power the tech giant’s first Asian data centre that is set to start operations next year, added Parekh. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had recently said that the company’s global operations are now supported wholly by renewable energy and that it has reached net-zero emissions.

Data centres which power tech companies such as Facebook use up as much as 1 per cent of the world’s total energy, the International Energy Agency said last year. Similarly, Singapore’s data centre industry sector accounted for 7 per cent of the country’s total electricity consumption in 2012, noted Professor Wen from NTU College of Engineering. https://w.media/what-you-need-to-know-about-green-dcs/

This ratio is predicted to reach 12 per cent by 2030 due to the rapid growth of the data centre business. Demand for data centres are seeing a surge globally, driven by remote working and increased digitalisation of businesses in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.

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Honda to introduce First Energy service in Europe

Honda will introduce its first energy service in Europe and launch its domestic intelligent charging solution ‘e:PROGRESS’ in the UK.

e:PROGRESS is a home charging solution which includes a connected charger, an advanced intelligent software developed by smart charging and aggregation specialist, Moixa. The software sets a charging schedule to ensure the car is always adequately charged when it’s needed based on the requirements of the owner, while optimising the use of low-priced clean energy.

Europe’s EV push

e:PROGRESS is the first service to be introduced by Honda’s new Energy Solutions division, a business unit recently established to offer a comprehensive portfolio of charging and energy management products and services to EV owners in Europe. Other projects in development include Honda Power Manager – a bi-directional vehicle-to-grid system which enables the collection and distribution of electricity between EVs and the grid to intelligently balance demand and supply of energy, and to make better use of renewables.

Jorgen Pluym, General Manager of Honda’s Energy Solutions division said: “Introducing e:PROGRESS to the market is a significant statement of Honda’s ambition in the provision of energy solutions as part of the continued move towards electrification and the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. This unique and innovative service, our first energy solution for Europe, gives Honda e customers a highly-advanced intelligent charging solution offering considerable cost savings, while our partner Octopus Energy guarantees that 100 per cent of its electricity comes from renewable sources.”

Electricity will be provided by Octopus Energy, with its UK-first dynamic tariff, Agile Octopus, a combined tariff for both the EV and home which allows customers access to lower prices during renewable-heavy, off-peak periods. Moixa’s software selects the most cost-effective times to charge the Honda e based on the tariff, which changes price as often as every 30 minutes in response to fluctuations in wholesale energy prices.

This gives customers an estimated annual saving in charging costs of up to EUR475 per year compared to a standard flat tariff, while Octopus Energy guarantees that 100 per cent of its electricity comes from renewable sources, the company said.

e:PROGRESS offers a seamless experience in setting up the service, guiding the customer through checking their eligibility online, switching to the dynamic tariff and subscribing to intelligent charging.

The preferred connected charger for the service is the Honda Power Charger S+ (4G), which connects remotely to e:PROGRESS to schedule access to low-cost electricity. With a simple yet sophisticated design inspired by that of the Honda e, Honda Power Charger has been designed to create more value in the future with further intelligent charging services which interact with the grid.

As well as offering a unique set of benefits to customers, e:PROGRESS will support active grid management to help stabilise demand and to optimise the use of renewables. It also aligns with Honda’s 2030 Vision, part of which outlines the company’s ambition to create ‘new value’ by moving into areas other than mobility, including energy services.

Offered exclusively to Honda e customers, e:PROGRESS will be available in the UK now. Further services under the e:PROGRESS brand will follow in Germany, with other European countries under consideration.

According to BlueWeave Consulting, the global market for electric vehicle market is estimated to grow from USD 121.8 billion in 2020 to USD 236.3 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 10.6 per cent. In 2020, Europe witnessed the strongest growth compared to other markets. In the present scenario, electric vehicle charging stations in private residences are very common, however, in order to meet the consumer demand, on-site commercial charging is expected to become a standard building feature in this decade.

The electric vehicle market in 2030 is expected to require more than 50 million chargers in buildings, consuming at least 520 TWh per year, as per BlueWeave Consulting’s estimates.

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Mitsubishi Power bags 1500 MW natural gas-fired power plant in Uzbekistan

Mitsubishi Power, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, has bagged an order for two M701JAC gas turbines for a 1,500-megawatt (MW) class natural-gas-fired GTCC (gas turbine combined cycle) power plant which is under construction in Sirdarya, in the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The Sirdarya project is the Government of Uzbekistan’s effort to provide cleaner, more efficient and cost-competitive gas power that can be utilised across industries in Uzbekistan. This new plant will have capacity equivalent to 8 per cent of Uzbekistan’s total generation capability and will be able to meet 15 per cent of the country’s overall power demand when complete. Construction of the new power plant will also lead to the partial closure of existing Sirdarya thermal power plant with improved efficiency, which is expected to result in a reduction of CO2 emissions by 2.2 million tons per year, the company said.

In addition to providing two high-efficiency next-generation gas turbines as the plant’s core equipment, Mitsubishi Power will also provide technical advisers to support construction and commissioning and 25-year long term service agreement (LTSA) to support reliable operation.

The JAC-Series are gas turbines featuring a forced-air-cooled combustor system and an optimized cooling structure. They also have an extra-thick-film thermal barrier coating that enables more advanced cooling of turbine blades, and they adopt a compressor with a high pressure ratio.

The order follows the conclusion of an equipment supply agreement for the Sirdarya project between ACWA Power, a leading Saudi developer, investor and operator of power and water desalination assets in 13 countries worldwide and China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd. (CGGC) as the appointed project EPC contractor.

Since inception in 2004, ACWA Power has grown rapidly both domestically and internationally in line with its mission to make available electricity and desalinated water in a reliable and responsible manner to support the social development and economic growth of nations where they operate. CGGC is headquartered in Beijing and undertakes business in more than 140 countries worldwide, mainly in the fields of hydropower, environmental protection, equipment manufacture and infrastructure development.

Further, Mitsubishi Power will focus its resources into promoting adoption of high-efficiency, environmentally friendly GTCC power generation equipment in a quest to contribute to stable supplies of electric power indispensable to worldwide economic development, and to help achieve a sustainable decarbonised society.

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How Walmart China has embarked on its Omni Channel digitalisation journey

Twenty five years after it entered the China market, Walmart China has embarked on its Omni-Channel customer digitalisation journey.

The retail giant has partnered with Nasdaq-listed Dada Group, China’s leading local on-demand delivery and retail platform which involves collaboration and a focus on omni-channel consumer digitalisation. The two of them have jointly launched the exclusive VIP program for customers of Walmart stores on JD Daojia (JDDJ), the on-demand retail platform of Dada Group.

In July 2019, Walmart China and Dada Group jointly launched the exclusive VIP service for customers of Walmart stores on JDDJ’s platform. As of September 2020, Walmart China made the VIP program available in over 400 stores across China. This is a pioneering effort for Walmart stores to promote its customer digitalization, and for JDDJ to improve targeted digital operations of users, company officials said.

Walmart China’s digital transformation

Customer digitalisation is a key part of Walmart China’s digital transformation strategy and Walmart China stores aim to provide diversified product offerings and superior shopping experiences for its tens of millions of digital customers, based on optimizing technology innovation and close collaborations with O2O platform. Meanwhile, as China’s largest local on-demand retail platform in the supermarket segment, JDDJ focuses on supporting retail partners in digital transformation, promoting digital innovation practices, and further strengthening empowering capabilities and its leading position.

“We hope to explore refined operation of hypermarket’s digital customers through close collaboration with JDDJ,” said Jingyang Xu, Chief Technology Officer of Walmart China. “It improves customer engagement and accumulates our digital assets. On the other hand, we could accurately identify high-value omni-channel customers and provide them with more considerate services, so that they can enjoy more convenient shopping experience at Walmart stores.”

“Leveraging cutting-edge proprietary technologies, Big Data and previous experience in user operations, Dada Group has collaborated with Walmart China to develop the refinement operation plan for Walmart stores’ VIP consumers on JDDJ and achieved the functional support including user portrait, hierarchical operations, targeted coverage, and VIP benefit operations,” said Huijian He, Vice President of Dada Group.

To celebrate 8.8 Omni-channel Shopping Festival in 2020, Walmart China launched the VIP Week Campaign on JDDJ’s platform. During the promotional week, the number of Walmart stores’ exclusive VIP customers soared to hundreds of thousands.

According to JDDJ’s data, the orders placed by Walmart stores’ VIP customers were 2.7 times of ordinary customers. As for expenditure growth rate during 8.8 shopping festival, Walmart stores’ VIP customers were 3 times than ordinary customers on JDDJ.

“It has proved that the value of VIP customer operation was recognised by valuable omni-channel customers, increasing overall sales to drive healthy growth,” added He.

“In terms of digital operations of omni-channel customers, Walmart China and JDDJ are at the forefront of the industry. The differentiated VIP program of Walmart stores contributes to identifying and managing high-value customers, and developing exclusive customer groups,” said Jianzhen Peng, Secretary General of China Chain Store & Franchise Association, China’s national representative for the retail and franchise industry.

Going forward, Walmart China and Dada Group will further develop omni-channel customers on JDDJ, expand the scale of VIP customers, and increase VIP benefits to provide better shopping experience.

Retail landscape

The Chinese retail sales market is highly competitive and diversified, with the 100 leading retail companies taking up a market share of relatively low 6.3 percent in 2019, according to Statista. With a sales volume of about 379 billion yuan in 2019, Suning Commerce Group ranked first among the leading retail chain operators in China, followed by Gome Electrical Appliances and Red Star Maccalline.

In terms of convenience store sector, Sinopec Group dominated the market as of 2019. Convenient stores are among the fastest growing retail channels for consumer goods, especially grocery shopping in China.

In 2019, the Chinese retail revenue amounted to around 13 trillion yuan while the contribution of merchandise trade to the country’s GDP was around 32 per cent. Slowing exports and an increase in volume of domestic markets indicate a strategy shift of the Chinese economy towards satisfying domestic demand.

As rural and urban households have witnessed a steady growth of disposable incomes, the spending power of the Chinese population has also increased dramatically and the Chinese market has matured into one of the largest and still growing consumer markets worldwide. Foreign and domestic retailers both vie strongly for the attention of the Chinese consumer.

Retail sales of consumer goods in China grew by more than eight percent annually in the past five years. Though in-store retail still held the largest market share among all retail channels, coronavirus outbreak has boosted online retail in China.

Around 23 per cent of the retail sales of fast moving consumer goods in the country were attributed to the online shopping segment as of 2020, noted Statista.

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Tencent Cloud launches first Internet Data Centre in Indonesia

Tencent Cloud, the cloud business of Tencent, has launched its first Internet Data Centre (IDC) in Indonesia.

With this launch, the Chinese tech giant has further emphasised its commitment to addressing the ever-growing business needs in Indonesia and Asia. Tencent Cloud is Tencent’s cloud services brand, providing industry-leading cloud products and services to organizations and enterprises across the world. With this addition, Tencent Cloud has extended its growing infrastructure network spanning 27 regions and 61 availability zones, the company said.

Located in the CBD of Jakarta, Tencent Cloud’s latest IDC is now in full operation, completing the backbone access and networking of all major Indonesian and global internet services providers, and combining Tencent Cloud’s own high-quality border gateway protocol to cover the entire country. The launch of the IDC in Indonesia enables Tencent Cloud to be closer to its customers and users, reducing access delays to data and applications and helping businesses and organizations in the country accelerate their digital transformation.

It also helps customers meet regulatory and compliance requirements, providing more disaster recovery options in the whole APAC region.

Poshu Yeung, Senior Vice President, Tencent Cloud International, said, “With a population of 270 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Given that its population structure is younger, it has a huge internet demographic dividend and its mobile internet market is quickly developing. We are excited to launch our first Tencent Cloud IDC in Indonesia, aiming to help fully reach the peak of the country’s promising cloud computing potential. We are also proud of how the new IDC epitomizes our commitment to addressing current and future business needs in Indonesia and Asia, while strengthening our global network which now connects 27 regions and 61 availability zones.”

Read: Indonesia requests non-bank financial institutions to place data centres inside country

Indonesia is one of the fastest growing public cloud markets in Asia Pacific with a CAGR of 25 per cent. It is expected to increase its market size to US$0.8 billion by 2023 and the new IDC is rightly positioned to fulfil the growing need for cloud services in Indonesia and in the region.

These developments come in the backdrop of Tencent reporting strong 2020 annual results. Revenue from cloud computing and other business services showed a similar 29 per cent year-on-year increase to $5.9 billion (38.5 billion Yuan) thanks to Tencent’s penetration into the industrial internet with its flagship Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products and upgraded cloud infrastructure.

The establishment of the new IDC in Indonesia will support the growing needs of a wide range of industries, from financial services, internet and e-commerce to entertainment, gaming and education. Some of its clients incude digital banks such as Bank Neo Commerce (BNC). BNC, one of the progressive digital banks in Indonesia, has a core system with a fully operational Tencent Distributed Database (TDSQL), the first time for Tencent Cloud to have brought TDSQL overseas, boosting Indonesia’s internet architecture for its financial services industry.

Tjandra Gunawan, President Director of BNC, said, “The launch of the new Tencent Cloud IDC in Indonesia is a much-welcomed boost in the already fully operational TDSQL in BNC’s core system, which continues to enhance our business through financial technology. Through this collaboration with Tencent Cloud, BNC emphasizes its commitment to provide the best technology product services as we understand that data security and privacy are very crucial in the digital technology industry.”

Another company using Tencent cloud is JOOX, Asia’s most dedicated music and entertainment streaming platform.

JOOX was supported by Tencent Cloud on a range of entertainment offerings, including music streaming and karaoke singing with its massive processing capability for lyrics and audio timeline smart matching, as well as concert livestreaming and video on demand. In particular, Tencent Cloud supported the live broadcasting of many global music events on JOOX, including the annual Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), which benefited from Tencent Cloud’s advanced and reliable technology, such as its low latency, real-time translation and high scalability.

Peter May, Head of JOOX Indonesia, said, “Through the launch of Tencent Cloud’s first IDC in Indonesia, JOOX looks forward to bringing more and enhanced entertainment experiencess to music fans in the country. We are glad to have the support of Tencent Cloud through its reliable and high-performances services to make sure that Indonesian music lovers can enjoy songs and music programs online in the safety of their homes.”

Another entertainment platform in Asia WeTV, has leveraged Tencent Cloud in Indonesia. Lesley Simpson, Country Manager, WeTV Indonesia, said, “WeTV’s commitment to consistently bring only the best to fans of Asian entertainment makes us inseparable from the support provided by Tencent Cloud. We are excited to reap the benefits of the new IDC in Indonesia, which will further enhance and improve the already reliable and high-quality service of Tencent Cloud, allowing us to create an even more unrivalled viewing experience for our users.”

Similarly, Aestron, offers an enterprise platform as a service for real-time communication (RTC) solutions, has formed a strategic collaboration with Tencent Cloud leveraging Aestron’s global market layout and Tencent Cloud’s capabilities and ecological advantages. Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Aestron’s platform infrastructure helps companies reach more than 400 million monthly active users in more than 150 countries.

Aestron powers some of the world’s most popular live-streaming, short-form video, and instant messaging apps. Tencent Cloud will join hands with Aestron, to launch new audio and video solutions, and provide quality services for the global market including Indonesia. In March, Tencent announced its first entry into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market with the construction of a data centre in Bahrain.

The company’s cloud computing arm, Tencent Cloud, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) to build an internet data center and a public cloud infrastructure in the region.

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L&T bags contract for constructing largest Solar Plant in Saudi Arabia

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has bagged a contract to construct the largest solar plant in Saudi Arabia.

The India-headquartered multinational company, which is into EPC projects, hi-tech manufacturing and services won this contract which is estimated to be in the range of US $600–900 million, the company said. Further, this contract was bagged from the consortium of ACWA Power and the Water and Electricity Holding Company, a subsidiary of the Public Investments Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), for Sudair Solar PV Project of 1.5 GW capacity.

This project is considered the largest Solar Plant in Saudi Arabia with PPA signed. It is also one of the largest such plants in the world.

The project that is coming up in Riyadh Province has a 30.8 square kilometre land parcel available to install a total capacity of 1.5GW PV Solar modules with associated single axial tracker and inverters.

The ambitions of Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) are on track. As part of the NREP, Sudair Solar PV Project is awarded to PIF and its partner, ACWA Power. This project is part of the 70 per cent of the target capacity of 58.7 GW of the Kingdom assigned to Public Investment Fund (PIF), while Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) would undertake competitive tendering for the remaining 30 per cent, as announced by the Ministry of Energy in 2019.

“With several GWs of solar EPC experience, L&T has emerged as a global technology player for solar plants, said S N Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, L&T.

The company has been a provider of EPC services for several green projects in recent years.

“We are India’s largest EPC company to build hydel power plants, the largest market player to build nuclear power plants with a total capability of 9360 MWe, including some ongoing projects, on an EPC turnkey basis with the capacity to make important critical components like steam turbines, generators, end shields and other critical equipment,” noted Subrahmanyan.

Additionally, L&T has the largest market share of the Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) units for fossil fuel power plants.

It has over 2.1 GW of Utility Scale Solar projects commissioned and are also operating and maintaining many of them. “We have a diversified renewable portfolio of 32MW Floating Solar Power Plants, 135 MWH of Battery Energy Storage projects, 500 Micro Grids and 14,000 Solar Water Pumps,” added Subrahmanyan.

L&T is also working on potential solutions related to Green Hydrogen and Carbon Capture & Storage technologies. “Securing this project is a major milestone in our clean and green energy path to fight the climate crisis that the world faces,” pointed out Subrahmanyan.

T. Madhava Das, Whole-Time Director & Senior Executive Vice President (Utilities), L&T said “KSA aims to become a pioneer in Renewable Energy and we are happy to be a part of this journey. We have been building efficient power transmission and distribution networks with modern substations and transmission lines in this region for more than two decades. This is yet another recognition of our capabilities to construct mega projects to speed and scale”.

Lear more about sustainability during W.Media’s Digital Week South Asia from April 28-30.

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Deep Tech VC Speciale Invest closes second seed fund

Speciale Invest, a seed stage VC investing in deep technologies has closed its second seed fund.

The second fund exceeded its target and was oversubscribed with the backing of an experienced group of domestic investors, the company said.

The fund expects to invest in about 18-20 start-ups building enterprise software products including SaaS, Developers tools and frontier technologies including Space Tech, Robotics, Photonics, Alternative Energy to name a few. The VC firm said that the fund size was Rs 140 crore or US$ 2 million.

Speciale had raised its first fund in 2018 and invested in 14 startups so far, with an average deal size of sub US$0.5 million. The investment strategy and portfolio construct continues to remain the same across funds, and a larger corpus allows for more follow-on allocation to the portfolio. Portfolio companies of Speciale Invest include enterprise software companies Wingman, True Lark, TotalCloud, Scapic, iAuro, Pocket52 and; and hardware startups The ePlane Company, Agnikul, Astrogate Labs, CynLr, and Kawa Space.

Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner at Speciale Invest said, “We are excited to announce the launch of our second fund to support and boost the deep-tech startup ecosystem in India amid the ongoing pandemic. The oversubscribed round of funding and interest in our subsequent round demonstrate the support of our investors in our team in creating a long standing venture institution. It also reaffirms our commitment towards looking out for entrepreneurs who have unconventional ideas in building futuristic companies that will challenge the status quo and revolutionize the world.”

Arjun Rao, General Partner at Speciale Invest, said “We’re thrilled that our 2nd fund enables us to continue this journey of partnering with early stage founders building companies at the bleeding edge of innovation from India. We take the learnings and progress from the 1st Fund portfolio as motivation to double down on our core deep tech thesis and strive harder to explore newer areas of tech & science led disruption.”

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Hong Kong Digital Asset Exchange to launch a Non-Fungible Token trading platform

Hong Kong Digital Asset Exchange (HKD.com), the first digital asset exchange to combine both an online platform and a sizable physical store in Hong Kong, plans to launch a one-stop NFT (Non-Fungible Token) trading platform.

This platform is slated for a third quarter launch in this year, the company said. It will be the first digital asset exchange in Hong Kong to introduce the blockchain technology and provide the NFT trading platform.

As the wave of globalisation of digital crypto asset activities is sweeping through the entire world, NFT is starting to assume increasing significance. HKD.com plans to launch the NFT trading platform in Hong Kong, name as HKD.com NFT Trading Platform (tentatively), the company said.

NFT is a new form of digital assets, issued digital creations content of digital design digital music, digital video etc. on the blockchain. NFT is unique and can own the specific token authenticating ownership of the content. NFT can be widely used, and currently, is applied and growing fast in the art market.

It provides artists with an online platform for the artworks publishing, promotion, trading and payment, with diversified product categories, including digital art, encrypted collections of animation, music and movies. On the trading platform, users can trade through public offer or bidding, and carry out token trading and exchange; while artists can also publish their own digital artworks through the trading platform.

Further, HKD.com supports multi-national legal tender, major cryptocurrencies, and over-the-counter legal tender trading services. In addition, serving as a one-stop service platform, HKD.com also provides physical store exhibition services for artists, the company said.

Kelvin Yeung, founder and CEO of HKD.com, said, “Considering the lack of a credible trading platform for digital creation in Hong Kong’s current market, HKD.com is determined to introduce the business of NFT and launch the trading platform. This not only can help the local artists to add value to their talents, but also can drive the development of the art market.”

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Strong demand adds powerful voltage to Shanghai Electric’s revenues

On the back of a strong performance in 2020, Shanghai Electric said that it will continue to implement its ‘three steps forward’ development philosophy, which is oriented towards strategy, problem-solving and results.

The world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of electric power generation, industrial equipment and integration services will continue to develop its smart energy services, in a bid to accelerate the industry towards a digitalised, connected and future.

Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Shanghai Electric achieved strong results by reducing the impact across various business segments, the company said.

For the fiscal year ended 31 December 2020, the company achieved total revenue of RMB 137.285 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.67 per cent, and the net profit attributable to owners of the company increased 7.34 per cent year-on-year to RMB 3.758 billion. New orders grew to RMB 185.55 billion and orders on hand rose to RMB 276.09 billion, a year-on-year increase of 8.7 per cent and 14.7 per cent respectively.

The Board of Shanghai Electric has proposed to pay a final dividends of RMB 0.7178 for every ten shares.

Significant strides

In 2020, Shanghai Electric made significant strides in the reform of institutional mechanisms, integrated development of technologies, investment in scientific research and innovation, the development of smart solutions, and the construction of its Industrial Internet SEunicloud Platform — making steady progress on the road to become a force to reckon with.

The Energy Equipment Business Segment has maintained steady performance and achieved revenue of RMB 55.96 billion — a 21.8 per cent increase year-on-year that was mainly attributed to the rapid growth of wind turbines and components business.

Shanghai Electric also grew revenue from its Integrated Services Business Segment, which encompasses Energy Engineering and Services, Environmental Engineering and Services, Automation Engineering and Services, the Industrial Internet service, Financial Services, International Trade Services and more. This segment rose 17.9 per cent year-on-year to RMB 52.232 billion, with the uptick driven by accelerated growth in Energy Engineering and Services.

In 2020, the Company successfully obtained approval from the Listing Committee of Shanghai Stock Exchange for listing its subsidiary, Shanghai Electric Wind Power Group Co (SEWP), on the Science and Technology Innovation Board and completed the mixed-ownership reform of Shanghai Renmin Electrical Apparatus Works (SREAW) and Shanghai Centrifuge Institute Co., Ltd.

Furthermore, in order to drive the consumption of new energies and achieve green and sustainable development, Shanghai Electric proactively promoted energy transformation and its comprehensive energy services comprising wind, solar, hydro, thermal and storage integration and ‘source, grid, load and energy storage integration’.

Increased R&D push

The company also increased investment in R&D and successfully launched the world’s first black start wind turbine project with a capacity of over 5MW — establishing the complete technological capabilities for a smart energy solution.

Committed to cultivating renewable energy and energy storage, Shanghai Electric officially launched multiple smart solutions throughout 2020. Last year, the Company put its Shanghai Electric Guoxuan Nantong lithium battery industrial base into operation, as well as its integrated wind-solar Smart Energy project in Shanghai’s Minhang Industrial Zone, and Shanghai Electric Golmud Meiman Minhang energy storage power station in Golmud City, Qinghai Province.

Shanghai Electric added nearly 30,000 new devices to its ‘SEunicloud’ industrial internet platform in the 2020 fiscal year, with assets value totalling RMB 24.7 billion. It also developed and integrated 15 industry applications, ranging from equipment networking and fault diagnosis to energy planning. Simultaneously, Shanghai Electric developed eight preliminary industry solutions, which include wind power smart operation and maintenance, thermal power remote operation and maintenance, machine tool operation and maintenance, energy storage battery and distributed energy.

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Adani Electricity launches green energy option to Mumbai customers

Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML), a part of the Adani Group
has launched its Mumbai Green Energy initiative, with an aim to play a pivotal role in Mumbai’s transition towards green energy.

As a part of this initiative, customers will have a flexibility to choose renewable energy consumption options, a move which is the first of its kind in India.

Further, AEML will source over 30 per cent of its energy requirement through renewable energy by 2023 and further increase this share to 50 per cent by way of consent already being sought from Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to add additional 1000 MW of Round The Clock (RTC) Power with more than 51 per cent component from RE Power. Indian regulations mandate approval from a regulatory commission such as MERC before any scheme is rolled out to customers.

AEML customers can ask the utility for options to buy RE Power under the current MERC scheme of providing 100 per cent RE Power, by paying 66 paisa extra. Also, AEML will be able to provide RE Certificates to customers as AEML will receive 700 MW supply from hybrid solar and wind generation in Rajasthan towards end of 2022-23.

AEML will also add an additional 1,000 MW power with substantial component of green energy, which has already, put up for approval of MERC.

Kandarp Patel, CEO and MD, AEML, said “AEML will empower its customers to choose the source of their energy, making green electrons accessible to everyone and enabling the green energy transition. We can guarantee 100 per cent green energy supply and certificates in Mumbai, without any modifications or disruptions. We will create customised renewable energy solutions for all customers to take full advantage of the renewable energy opportunities and achieve their sustainability goals.”

This Mumbai Green Energy Initiative is a voluntary program and is for existing AEML consumers and prospective customers. All existing and new customers are eligible to participate. AEML will issue monthly certificates to such customers stating the percentage (%) of power requirement that has been sourced through renewable energy.

Rapid strides are underway in Asia towards clean energy consumption. Recently, Singapore-based solar firm Sunseap Group will form a joint venture with Malaysia’s largest electricity utility, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB). This joint venture trial is to import clean electricity into Singapore, from Malaysia.

According to the terms of the agreement, the partnership will import 100 MW of electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources, TNB and Sunseap said in a joint statement.

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Sakra World Hospital leverages Nutanix for IT infra upgrade

Multispeciality hospital Sakra World Hospital has upgraded its technology infrastructure and is leveraging Nutanix to enhance medical services for patients and deliver multiple telehealth applications.

“Time is of the essence in healthcare. With our previous legacy infrastructure, we faced challenges like slow billing, extended wait times, and delays in retrieving health records and processing X-rays. These issues affected both our staff and patients,” said Bhoopendra Solanki, head of IT at Sakra World Hospital.

“With Nutanix HCI, IT has become an enabler for business. Clinicians can now access data in seconds not minutes, and we were even able to quickly respond to customer needs during the pandemic by rolling out new applications for virtual consultations, online registration and payments without any delay.”

Sakra’s initial three-tier legacy infrastructure involved high maintenance time and costs and became a barrier to further development. By switching to Nutanix, the hospital was able to cut their total cost of ownership by about 35 per cent, and the one-click simplicity has allowed Sakra to refocus resources away from routine infrastructure management and cut administration time by about 57 per cent.

Sakra World Hospital has migrated 41 applications from the three-tier infrastructure to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS, which includes Nutanix AOS, Nutanix Prism management software and Nutanix AHV. The hospital has 350-bed capacity and 200-plus doctors.

“IT plays an important role in healthcare today. With Nutanix, the lead time for implementing new services at Sakra World Hospital has been drastically reduced, and downtime has been cut by about 90 percent. We can now use IT to react faster to the needs of patients and staff, rather than simply keeping the lights on,” said Lovekesh Phasu, chief operating officer, Sakra World Hospital.

“The ability to shift focus from internal resource management to customers is a big advantage for any organization today, and more so on the critical frontlines of the healthcare industry. With Nutanix, Sakra World Hospital has been able to adapt quickly to changing patient needs and continuously meet their goal of delivering a customer-centric experience,” said Faiz Shakir, Director, Sales, India and SAARC, Nutanix.

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Fujitsu and AutoGrid to boost Renewable Energy use in Japan

Fujitsu, AutoGrid to boost Renewable Energy use in Japan

Fujitsu Limited said that it will begin offering Autogrid’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) solution in the Japanese market.

Fujitsu will leverage the solution to maximise the use of distributed energy resources in the domestic energy market and contribute to the expansion of renewable energy and the realisation of a decarbonised society. AutoGrid provides SaaS solutions to many energy companies in Europe, Australia, Asia Pacific and North America.

Based on the agreement, Fujitsu will begin selling the VPP solution AutoGrid Flex in the Japanese market as an AutoGrid partner.

Since renewables remain dependent on the weather, however, it often proves difficult to predict and adjust the amount of energy supplied. The development and expansion of VPP, which combines distributed energy resources owned by factories and homes to manage and control them, represents a possible solution to these challenges.

What the collaboration entails

 

By taking advantage of Fujitsu’s strong partnership with customers in the energy industry and proven track record of providing SI services including in VPP related areas, as well as AutoGrid’s experience of deploying VPP solutions globally, Fujitsu will contribute to the creation of an industry wide next-generation energy platform.

AutoGrid Flex enables the optimisation of energy operations and the control and management of distributed energy resources. By providing this solution to energy providers and aggregators, Fujitsu will contribute to the realisation of next-generation energy platform to maximise the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, and distributed energy resources, such as storage batteries.

Going forward, Fujitsu will expand its capabilities in the area of energy data utilization to achieve real-time, high-precision, optimised control of distributed energy resources, significantly enhancing the value of energy resources managed by energy providers and aggregators. AutoGrid aims to expand its business in Japan with its VPP technologies, providing Fujitsu with VPP solutions that enable the utilisation of multi-functional, flexible, and distributed energy resources that are suitable for the Japanese market.

“AutoGrid aims to expand its VPP presence in Japan by providing Fujitsu with solutions that push the utilization of flexible DERs to the next level,” said Amit Narayan, Founder & CEO, AutoGrid. “We already see a great openness to grid innovation in the Japanese market, and this partnership paves the way for more efficient, intelligent and clean energy systems to take hold.”

“Distributed energy resources were introduced in Japan to promote grid resiliency but it often proves difficult to predict and adjust the amount of energy supplied. Energy providers, aggregators and grid operators have started building VPP systems to operate energy efficiently and to respond to the expanding energy trading market,” said Michiaki Morioka, Head of Utility Business Division, Fujitsu.

“By utilising Fujitsu’s strong partnership with customers in the energy industry as well as AutoGrid’s experience of deploying VPP solutions globally, this partnership will contribute to the creation of an industry wide next-generation energy platform.”

Also, the two companies will continue leveraging their respective strengths to promote the introduction of renewable energy and contribute to the realization of a more sustainable society by delivering solutions that contribute to the stable and efficient use of distributed energy resources.

In recent years, the introduction of distributed energy resources, which include renewables and energy sources like solar power generation and storage batteries, has been promoted to strengthen resilience against natural disasters and achieve the Japanese government’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

By the end of March 2026, Fujitsu aims to achieve sales of JPY 3.8 billion in the Japanese market for services based on AutoGrid Flex.

 

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India’s largest power generator NTPC completes total installed capacity of 65,810 MW

With the successful completion of trial operation by Unit-2 of Tanda Super Thermal Power Station in Uttar Pradesh (UP), NTPC’s installed capacity has risen to 65,810 MW.

NTPC, India’s largest power generator also said that its Unit-2 of 660 MW capacity of Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project (3 x 660 MW) of Nabinagar Power Generating Co. Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of NTPC Limited) has successfully completed trial operation.

NTPC also announced Commercial Operation Date (COD) of the first part capacity of 70 MW Of 85 MW Bilhaur Solar PV Project in UP.

NTPC Group has 70 power stations including 26 renewable projects. The group has over 18 GW of capacity under construction, including 5 GW of renewable energy projects. With global shift in energy space, NTPC is increasingly emphasising on ESG and changed its focus to renewable for future growth while improving on sustainability matrix. Sustained efforts are underway for transforming into an Integrated Energy company.

Uninterrupted supply of electricity through environment-friendly energy projects at affordable prices has been a key fous area of NTPC, company officials said. In February, NTPC commenced commercial operations for the Kameng Hydro-Electric Project, a part North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary company of NTPC Ltd.

In the December-ended quarterly results, gross generation of NTPC came in at 65.42 billion units as against 61.21 billion units during the corresponding period of previous year. This us an increase of 6.87 per cent. For nine months of financial year 2021, gross generation was 193.28 billion units as against 191.35 billion units during the corresponding period of previous year.

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Tiger Brokers sees huge potential in Singapore for online trading

Xiaomi-backed online trading platform Tiger Brokers Singapore, has said that its business has continued to see exponential growth and momentum in Singapore.

The online and mobile-focused brokerage saw 100 per cent growth in customer accounts for three consecutive quarters in 2020.

This performance comes is a part of strong performance by Tiger Brokers’ Singapore’s parent company. For the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2020 total revenues were US$47.2 million, a 136.5 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of 2019.

The total number of customers globally with deposits increased by 128.4 per cent year-on-year to 258,700 in 2020. The global platform also added 44,000 funded accounts in the fourth quarter, 3.9 times the number of new funded accounts in the same quarter of last year; the total number of funded accounts doubled in 2020 to reach 258,700.

Tiger Brokers’ account balance increased by US$5.0 billion in the fourth quarter and reached US$16.0 billion, an increase of 215.9 per cent since the end of 2019.

Wu Tianhua, Chief Executive Officer of UP Fintech Holding Limited said, “The total addressable market in Singapore is huge. The country has one of the highest rates of digitalisation in the world, and a nation-wide preference for digital banking which is supported by high tech infrastructure and key fintech initiatives led by the government, making it a very attractive and relevant market for Tiger Broker’s services. This is a market that has huge potential for us, and we are working hard for incremental market growth, especially focused on younger Singaporeans who are getting more savvy with their investment needs.”

Eng Thiam Choon, Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Brokers Singapore, added that compared to a decade ago, trading seems to be out of reach for many people.

“However today, we are seeing an increasing number of individuals, as young as Generation Z, beginning to explore online investing as a viable financial lifestyle choice. People are more aware of the trends and developments in global economies and changes in business landscapes today,” he said.

Tiger Brokers Singapore saw an overall shift in user digital experience driven by the pandemic and recognised the need to keep pace with its investors’ demands by differentiating and expanding its services. In 2020, the platform has onboarded two exchange platforms – Singapore Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange, bringing the total number of exchanges available to Singapore investors to six across five countries.

This access, especially to US markets, has been a huge value-add to its investors.

Growing strong and steady

Tiger Brokers has also focused on creating convenience for its users; working with bank partners to help create a seamless payment system; working with technology partners such as Iress, one of the largest and most active online trading communities; TradingView, strengthening Tiger Brokers’ community engagement; and lastly, the launch of Tiger Brokers latest Fund Mall product that allows everyday-investors access to popular public funds.

Tiger Brokers recently partnered with OTC Markets Group Inc. to provide customers with detailed insights and make more informed trading decisions on the OTC markets.

“At Tiger Brokers, our objective is to provide an array of financial and educational tools to support the new generation of investors in their investment journey. Our fantastic Q4 result would not be made possible without the support and faith of our Singapore and regional investors. As we remind investors to diversify their investment, we hope to continue bringing value-added investment opportunities to our current investors, while attracting the new ones,” stated Thiam Choon.

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Airtel commissions 14 MWp captive solar power plant for DC needs

India’s communication service provider Bharti Airtel has commissioned a captive solar power plant to meet the energy needs of its core and edge data centres in Uttar Pradesh (UP).

Airtel has commissioned a 14 MWp captive solar power plant to meet the energy requirements of its core and edge data centres in UP, the company said in a statement. The facility in Tilhar, Shahjahanpur in UP is the first of the two solar plants being set up by Airtel in partnership with AMP Energy, the statement added.

The second plant at Begampur, is expected to go live in the next quarter. This will provide a major boost to Airtel’s initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

Airtel had acquired a 26 per cent equity stake in AMP Solar Evolution as part of its commitment to green energy-based solutions. Needless to say, data centres have large power requirements.

DC infra push

Bharti Airtel’s data centre subsidiary Nxtra Data, last year had said that it plans to invest Rs 1,750 crore in its data security and cloud infrastructure network. The capital expenditure is being driven by an earlier investment from US-based Carlyle Group, which had shelled out $235 million for a 25 per cent stake in ‘Nxtra by Airtel’.

It currently operates 10 large and 120 edge data centres across India. Airtel has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, under which the telco will set up for two new data centre campuses in Mumbai and Pune. Nxtra Data already operates two large data centres in Maharashtra in addition to multiple edge data centres spread across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur and Kolhapur.

In FY 2022, it aims to meet over 50 per cent of its power input through renewable energy sources and contribute to Airtel’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

‘As a responsible corporate, green energy is a top agenda for Airtel. We take pride in being ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing sustainability initiatives,’ said Rajesh Tapadia, CEO – Nxtra Data.

Airtel will continue to drive its commitment to reducing carbon footprint through multiple interventions, Tapadia added.

Further, Airtel is aligned to the Paris Climate Accord. It benchmarks against global standards and transparently publishes the progress it makes against the targets it has set itself,’ the statement said adding the company is proactively deploying clean fuel-based power solutions for its towers, data centres, switching centres and other facilities.

Learn more at Digital Week South Asia, from April 28-30.

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Microsoft resolves issues that led to productivity apps outage

Microsoft has said that it has successfully resolved the issues that led to an outage which affected cloud services on April 1.

The affected services included Azure, Teams and Dynamics 365, according to reports. “We’ve successfully resolved the issue that was causing residual impact for SharePoint Online and we’ve confirmed that all Microsoft 365 services have returned to a healthy state.” Microsoft said in a Tweet.

Spike in DNS traffic

During the outage, some users experienced “intermittent issues” with accessing Azure, Dynamics, Xbox Live and other cloud services, the Redmond-based giant said. In order to mitigate the impact of the issues, Microsoft “engaged resilient DNS capabilities to absorb the spike in DNS traffic,” the company said.

The issues on Thursday followed Microsoft’s March 15 outage that had impacted “any service” that uses Azure Active Directory, Microsoft’s widely used identity authentication solution.

During that outage, Microsoft indicated that the biggest impact was on Teams, which is used by businesses and is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of productivity apps. While Asia Pacific seems to be largely excluded from this outage, Microsoft said that it has identified that a portion of infrastructure within Central United States, Western United Kingdom and France encountered errors.

Also, reports of some users in Canada, unable to send and receive Microsoft Teams chat messages were doing the rounds in the last week of March.

The outage on April 1 is the fourth such instance on Microsoft Teams since February. Teams has around 115 million daily active users worldwide as of late October, Microsoft had said in the past.

That was a more than 5 times increase from a year before, when Teams had 20 million daily active users, Microsoft said.

 

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Digital Transformation and End-User Experience Monitoring

The global adoption of cloud computing is fast growing and is fuelled by digital transformation programs. Startups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) stamping a footprint in the global market are required to continuously invest in understanding the end-user experience.

Uptime and performance are important ingredients in providing the best user experience, thus businesses should strive to achieve that goal by proactively monitoring their services from an end-user perspective.

All these requirements call for a monitoring and management solution that identifies and proactively alerts user experience issues in real-time to take corrective actions, and if equipped with AI and machine learning, it would further help organizations in breaking down cloud complexities and in enhancing the user experience.

Any digital business has a few crucial parameters to monitor and to ensure it can provide a top-quality user experience to its users:

Optimal functioning of the website 

This is the basic parameter to monitor to ensure your website visitors can access the website and complete an online purchase. Continuous monitoring of the site is the only solution for staying on top of the issues that might occur.

Is the website fast enough? 

Slow is the new down. The more time a webpage takes to load, the more negative an impact it has on user engagement and the site conversion rate.

Is your checkout flawless

A broken check-out process can ruin a sale. To reduce shopping cart abandonment, it’s important to monitor every customer interaction across the entire website to improve customer satisfaction and perfect the buying journey. These customer interactions include login, search, download, and checkout.

Benefits of monitoring

Proactive monitoring is critical to achieving the uptime and performance goals of your cloud service. With Site24x7 Website and Transaction Monitoring, you can keep track of uptime and performance of your domain and key workflows in your cloud service from customer vantage points and ensure the end-user experience is top-notch.

Site24x7 is an all-in-one monitoring solution that offers full-stack monitoring of internet services, infrastructure, and cloud environments. It lets organizations manage their digital experience and cloud resources conveniently from one console by offering comprehensive monitoring with AI-powered insights, IT Automation capabilities, alert integrations, customizable dashboards, and more. Sign up for free!

Socomec Looks Beyond Products To Leave 2020 On A High

The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most trying periods of the 21st Century, but with this pressure comes opportunities to think and work differently.

For Socomec, an industrial specialist in low voltage electrical networks, ended 2020 on a high note by looking beyond product buying and focusing a new outlook on value buying.

Socomec achieved this by reevaluating their product value by determining this based on feedback from new and returning customers who typically do not buy based on the lowest price expectations.

“Listening is one other important success factor of our business. We hear our customers’ pain points and will act to derive a solution for them. We also listen to our employees’ pain points because we believe if we solve them, then they will adopt the same approach to solve our customers’ problems,” said Andy Ng, General Manager of Socomec, Singapore.

Key to this success was by focusing on Socomec’s internal value chain, which eventually presents the final product to their customers.

To have a well oiled internal value chain, Socomec encouraged strong teamwork across a sales force that is technically inclined with industry knowledgeable, a project management team that takes pride in ensuring full compliance with quality and timely deliverables for their customers, and a service team equipped with a full skill set and toolbox to maintain the uptime of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems that are critical for customers, including data center operators.

“Keeping our customers’ operations going is our business mandate. Seeing returning customers who have helped us grow our business, knowing how much they appreciate our product quality and require our internal value chain clearly tells us we are headed in the right direction,” said Andy Ng, General Manager of Socomec, Singapore.

Rebounding in 2020

Since 1922, Socomec’s success had hinged on three core values, including assuming responsibility, being open, and staying committed to sustain their business and bring value to their customers.

The benefits of this new value paradigm shift to Socomec internally is immensely good. “We will stamp an identity for Socomec as a “company of trust” that will give assurance to current clients, instill confidence to potential clients and will give us an edge in the industry, opined Andy Ng, General Manager of Socomec, Singapore.

Also, its target audience has impacted its business positively. Clients not only buy products, they also get operability, serviceability and also deal with a trusted company that works towards solving their problems. Further, clients work with a team that is responsible, honest, committed for the long term and can be assured our call of duty is to maintain their operations uptime.

As a result of their values, teamwork and new outlook, Socomec was able to rebound their business back to normalcy six weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt the world.

“The devised action plans that were executed sprang Socomec business back and we did better than the previous year. This was made possible because Socomec has a team of people who relentlessly performed their tasks to ramp up the business,” said Andy Ng, General Manager of Socomec, Singapore.

Socomec’s new outlook has created a new level of trust with their customers, which has also increased the confidence they have in Socomec as a provider of sustainable UPS systems, metering and monitoring equipment, load break switches, backup and power storage, and more.

Socomec also aimed to bring values to the society by providing training and educating people, as they see it as a social responsibility to do so. Hence why, they strongly encourage future generations to join the industry in order to gain the knowledge. “Just several weeks ago, we provided a training workshop to a mainstream tertiary education institution. The training content was tailored to suit the teaching staff participants to be able to forward on the content to their students. We are very delighted to see their participation level, and we will continue to have such movement with other education institutions,” said Andy Ng, General Manager of Socomec, Singapore.

Looking ahead to 2021, Socomec will stay committed to looking beyond products by focusing on bringing value to a world that continues to require electrical networks and uptime in the digital era.

Capital Markets tech provider Options Technology acquires Fixnetix

Abry Partners backed Options Technology, a provider of IT infrastructure to global Capital Markets has acquired Fixnetix.

Fixnetix is a part of NYSE-listed DXC Technology. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fixnetix provides outsourced front-office trading services to investment banks, hedge funds, proprietary trading firms and exchanges worldwide and was part of DXC’s global banking and capital markets business. This deal supports Options’ growth strategy and combines two industry leading teams committed to optimising the service offered to their customers across the financial sector, the company said in a statement.

As a result of the acquisition, clients can avail of the extensive market data footprint covering the US, European and Asian Markets alongside R&D capabilities, including industry leading automation, monitoring and testing competences.

Options clients include the leading global investment banks, hedge funds, funds of funds, proprietary trading firms, market makers, broker, dealers, private equity houses and exchanges. With offices in New York, Toronto, Chicago, London, Belfast, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand, Options are well placed to service their customers both on-site and remotely.

Expanding service capabilities

“We are excited to reach this important milestone with Fixnetix and view this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our service capabilities whilst providing further value for our customers and the overall market,” said Danny Moore, Options’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “Fixnetix and Options are highly complementary, and the deal combines Options’ comprehensive coverage in the US and Asia with Fixnetix’s European offering, allowing us to provide existing customers with the agility they need to respond to rapid changes in market dynamics.”

Tomer Yosef-Or, a Partner at Abry, said, “We continue to be impressed by the Fixnetix’s team’s capabilities and believe the combination, supported with our capital, will provide enhanced quality and breadth of services to existing and new customers. The collaboration we have already seen between the two companies gives us great optimism in the ultimate potential for the organization. We are excited to bring this transaction to a close and move forward together with the united strategy of building a leading and differentiated global IT Managed Service Provider highly focused on the financial services vertical.”

In 2019, Options secured a significant growth investment from Abry Partners, a Boston-based sector-focused private equity firm. This investment has enabled Options to considerably accelerate its growth strategy to invest further in its technology platform and expand its reach in key financial centres globally.

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NXP India ties up with govt to set up fabless chip design incubator

NXP India has tied up with the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Fabless Chip Design Incubator (FabCI) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Hyderabad) to set up an accelerator.

The programme will identify, facilitate and mentor the start-ups in the niche area of start-ups will be incubated for two years in each cohort every year. NXP India is a part of the Nasdaq-listed NXP Semiconductors.

Startups working in semiconductor chip design, IP design, design services and chip design tools are eligible to seek space in the incubator, the company said.

The accelerator would pick five start-ups for the incubation programme. They will be incubated for two years.

Each start-up will get benefits up to Rs 1 crore a year.

“The incubation and accelerator programme can bring the core impetus to the strengthening of fabless semiconductor design in India,” Lars Reger, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer of NXP Semiconductors, has said.

“The Union Government has been working towards promoting the electronics system design and manufacturing sector to bring electronic manufacturing to the country. There is also a need to build a fabless design ecosystem,” Ajay Sawhney, Secretary (MeitY), said.

“This collaborative effort will give an impetus to the semiconductor ecosystem in the country,” according to B S Murty, Director of IIT Hyderabad.

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Hydrogen emerging as a clean energy alternative to power DCs

As the drive towards sustainability is moving at a break neck speed, corporations on their part are making an effort to build “green” at the centre of everything. Most of the new data centre build outs are happening with renewable energy at the centre of powering its gargantuan needs. Take the case of Singapore. The country’s data centre industry accounted for 7 per cent of the countries total electricity consumption in 2012. This ratio is expected to reach 12 per cent by 2030 due to rapid growth in DC business.

Enter the Hydrogen!

Hydrogen is beginning to emerge as an important part of the clean energy mix needed to ensure a sustainable future. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security. Falling costs for hydrogen produced with renewable energy, combined with the urgency of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, has given clean hydrogen unprecedented political and business momentum, according to a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

In February this year, Atos and HDF Energy announced their plan to develop a complete end-to-end long-term solution to supply data centres with green hydrogen generated by renewable energy. The new solution by Atos and HDF will be the first available on the market for data centres with heavy power consuming workloads, company officials said. HDF Energy is an Independent Power Producer (IPP) focussing on utility-scale clean power generation.

“We are constantly seeking to develop solutions to leverage our own sustainable journey towards decarbonization and to support our clients in theirs. In this perspective, the solution to be developed by Atos and HDF will be the first solution available on the market that will enable a full production datacenter with very demanding workloads to be operated using green hydrogen. This meets the expectations not only of operators, but also of the market and public authorities.” says Arnaud Bertrand, SVP, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Big Data & Security at Atos.

“We are very excited to develop the first-of-its-kind green datacenter with Atos. HDF is a pioneer in hydrogen-energy and it is very important for us to demonstrate that our Hydrogen-to-Power solutions are suitable for customers with a strategic need for a reliable electricity supply. This further development into the digital industry, where energy consumption is increasing every day, opens up a considerable worldwide market for us. The HDF-Atos partnership offers the first unique and sustainable infrastructure for this huge market.” stated Damien Havard, CEO at HDF.

Atos will provide a complete end-to-end green data center solution by designing and providing the hardware, software and integration services that make it possible to exploit the electricity produced by green hydrogen so that it can be used in data centres. This includes using the most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to optimise energy consumption.

HDF Energy will supply a power plant, which will provide predictable and firm electricity thanks to its high-powered fuel cells. These cells will be powered by green hydrogen derived from photovoltaic or wind farms.

According to US Dept of Energy, a data centre consumes 100-200 times power when compared to an office building. “Energy alone cosumes 50 per cent of a data centre’s operating costs,” according to Professor Wen Yonggang from NTU College of Engineering. Prof Wen’s latest work on DCWiz for Data Centre Digital Transformation has researched on green data centre, including data centre cooling systems, power systems and the world’s first tropical air free-cooled data centre testbed.

Where hydrogen helps

The current policy debate suggests that now is the time to scale up technologies and to bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges.

It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors – including intensive and long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel – where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. Additionally, it increases flexibility in power systems. Hydrogen is versatile in terms of supply and use.

Also, it is a free energy carrier that can be produced by many energy sources. Hydrogen can enable renewables to provide an even greater contribution. It has the potential to help with variable output from renewables, such as solar photovoltaics (PV).

Hydrogen is one of the options for storing energy from renewables and looks poised to become a lowest-cost option for storing large quantities of electricity over days, weeks or even months. Hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels can transport energy from renewable sources over long distances.

Transition challenges galore

Even as the case for Hydrogen is attractive, concerns remain. From designing hardware to usage of software (that consumes optimum electricity), everything needs to be looked into minutely.

“In order to develop a green data center, there are many challenges to tackle. You need to reduce the energy consumption of the data center, and to make the consumed energy greener,” says François Trahay – Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris.

At the hardware level, the servers need to consume as little energy as possible while providing enough computing power to process an increasing amount of data. This means that processor manufacturers constantly improve their hardware design so that billions of transistors only consume a few Watts while being able to process billions of instructions per second.

“At a data centre scale, the cooling of servers and the air flow within the server room is optimised in order to cool tens of thousands of servers with as little energy as possible. The heat produced by servers can be collected and reused to heat buildings,” points out Trahay.

At the software level, finding new algorithms that process data efficiently is key to reducing the energy consumption of servers. The other main challenge is to exploit computing resources efficiently by improving the operating systems or by grouping applications on a few servers so that idle servers can be switched off.

“In addition to the reduction of energy consumption, a green data centre also needs to consume energy that does not generate greenhouse gases,” opines Trahay. For instance, data centers in Iceland can be powered by geothermal or hydroelectric power.

Another possibility is to use wind or solar energy. But such fluctuating resources require to be able to adapt the energy consumption of the data centre, or to store the energy so that it can be used later.

Reality check

Development of blue hydrogen as a transition solution also faces challenges in terms of production upscaling and supply logistics. Development and deployment of CCUS has lagged compared to the objectives set in the last decade. Additional costs pose a challenge, as well as the economies of scale that favour large projects. Public acceptance can be an issue as well. Synergies may exist between green and blue hydrogen deployment, for example economies of scale in hydrogen use or hydrogen logistics.

Also, a hydrogen-based energy transition will not happen overnight. Hydrogen will likely trail other strategies such as electrification of end-use sectors and its use will target specific applications.

The need for a dedicated new supply infrastructure may limit hydrogen use to certain countries that decide to follow this strategy. Therefore, hydrogen efforts should not be considered a panacea.

Instead, hydrogen represents a complementary solution that is especially relevant for countries with ambitious climate objectives. Per unit of energy, hydrogen supply costs are 1.5 to 5 times those of natural gas, according to industry watchers.

Low-cost and highly efficient hydrogen applications warrant such a price difference. Also, decarbonisation of a significant share of global emissions will require clean hydrogen or hydrogen-derived fuels.

Currently, significant energy losses occur in hydrogen production, transport and conversion. Reducing these losses is critical for the reduction of the hydrogen supply cost.

Dedicated hydrogen pipelines have been in operation for decades. Transport of hydrogen via existing and refurbished gas pipelines is being explored. This may reduce new infrastructure investment needs and help to accelerate a transition, according to the IRENA report.

However, equipment standards need to be adjusted, which may take time. Whether the way ahead involves radical natural gas replacement or gradually changing mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen mixtures is still unclear, observes IRENA.

While international hydrogen commodity shipping is being developed, another opportunity that deserves more attention is trade of energy-intensive commodities produced with hydrogen. Ammonia production, iron and steel making, and liquids for aviation, marine bunkers or feedstock for synthetic organic materials production (so-called electrofuels or e-fuels that are part of a power-to-X strategy) seem to be prime markets.

However, cost and efficiency barriers need to be overcome. This may offer an opportunity to accelerate global renewables deployment with economic benefits.

How energy-intensive areas such as data centres use this will be interesting to look at, going forward.

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More Chinese planning forays into semiconductor manufacturing

More Chinese companies from different sectors are speeding up efforts to enter the semiconductors sector.

According to a Global Times report, companies from sectors such as automobiles, smartphone manufacturers and home appliance producers, are getting into semiconductors, at a time when the workd is facing a shortage of chips.

As the development of China’s terminal devices – including smartphones and cars – is experiencing a fast growth period, China is becoming the biggest chip consumer, and the growing market demand has lured many companies into making semiconductors, Global Times said.

“Chinese companies learned a lesson after Chinese telecom firms ZTE and Huawei were sanctioned by the US – that is they need to resolve the foreign stranglehold on chip-making technology. As they are rushing into this sector, China’s semiconductors industry is likely to see a strong boost in three years,” Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times.

Earlier this week, Chinese local media reported that the 7-nanometer chips developed by tech giant Baidu-backed automotive intelligence technology company ECARX will soon enter mass production. Further, TCL, a top Chinese television maker, has registered a new subsidiary that will focus on businesses including chip design and new material development, according to media reports.

“Now, with the huge market demand, many Chinese tech companies that have done well in manufacturing electronic terminal products and have accumulated rich reserves of talent and capital, have the motivation to enter businesses in the upper stream of the industry chain,” Xiang said.

Xiang believes that China’s semiconductors sector is on the cusp of robust growth as a number of companies and vast amounts of capital have been invested into chips design and manufacturing.

“I expect that within three years, Chinese companies’ ability in the semiconductor sector – from designing to manufacturing – will see a marked improvement,” Xiang said.

Add to China, Japan has sought help from some Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers, after a fire had hit one of the chip plants, according to a Reuters report.

Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said: “We are in communication with several manufacturing equipment makers (in Taiwan) to speed up procurement.” Earlier this month, A Renesas Electonic Corp-owned Naka chip plant in northeast Japan was hit by fire earlier this month due to a power surge in one of the machines.

 

 

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CMKL University and TCC Technology to launch national AI supercomputing research infra

CMKL University and TCC Technology (TCCtech) will launch national AI research infrastructure and dataset exchange to provide the high-performance computing solutions to The National Data Platform for AI.

CMKL University was established as a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL). CMKL has leveraged the best practices from CMU, the US- based University, known as the top Grad School in AI field and KMITL, Thailand Based University, also known as the top University in Engineering fields.

With the core value – Beyond Limit, Make it happen, CMKL was initiated to create a new collaboration between the industries and academia. “As many companies moved to Pittsburgh to be near CMU, now we are bringing CMU to Thailand to create the new way of work with business in Thailand and this region. We are pleased to work with TCC Technology, Thailand’s leading infrastructure and solutions providers, in handling the world class infrastructure to support research for our National AI platform” said Dr Supan Tungjitkusolmon, President of CMKL University.

Unleashing AI power in Thailand

AI initiatives will become increasingly important in the near future. This collaboration, with the readiness of high performing infrastructure, is regarded as a significant milestone to create substantial impacts by making technology accessible and accelerating AI work in collaborative R&D fields to benefit for Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy & society in Thailand and its neighboring countries.

“We encourage universities and businesses to open up and work together in order to combine our strengths so that we can leverage AI power to the fullest extent and be ready to compete in the global stage. Thanks to PMU-C’s support, we can build the new, powerful AI-enabled infrastructure called “APEX,” located here at CMKL University (Carnegie Mellon – CMKL | Thailand). APEX can help unleash high performance for AI workloads without limiting your imagination, as well as accelerate turn-around time for analysis, thus shortening time to market.

For sustainability in providing such AI-infrastructure services in the future, we are collaborating with global partners as well as domestic service providers, like TCC Technology, to build national capability to maximize APEX’s capability and understand how to provide AI-infrastructure services.” pointed out Dr. Orathai Sangpetch, Vice President of Research and Strategy at CMKL University.

APEX Goliath, a key initiative under framework of Thailand’s BCG economy

As part of BCG (Bio-Circular-Green Economic Model) infrastructure development, APEX Goliath is a key initiative, sponsored by PMU-C (Program Management Unit for Thailand’s Competitiveness), Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), an autonomous public agency affiliated to the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.

APEX Goliath is the data exchange & AI analytics platform across integrated systems for BCG. It will help accelerate to maximize the value of data and AI economy for industries such as medical & wellness, food & agricultural, tourism & creative economy and bio-energy in Thailand.

“TCC Technology is honoured to be part of CMKL’s success in implementing the infrastructure solutions to be the national data exchange & AI analytics Platform under Thailand’s BCG development. This could be regarded as the big step to leap frog our country in AI field and transform Thailand to be a value-based and innovation-driven economy.” noted Teerapan Luengnaruemitchai, Managing Director of TCC Technology

“TCC Technology –as the Technology Trusted Solutions Partner is ready to support CMKL’s central computing node in spearheading the AI initiatives to be beneficial to research and university nodes and businesses across Thailand and Southeast Asia”, said Pipit Jariyavattanavijit, Deputy MD – Commercial and Operation of TCC Technology

CMKL adopts the integrated infrastructure solutions, powered by TCC Technology. The solutions range from data center & containment, network & management appliance, high performance GPU & storage and AI/ HPC appliances. In addition, the end-to-end solutions include the management & monitoring of high speed connectivity linkage to our country’s neutral internet exchange making the performance optimisation and effectiveness possible.

Powerful computing in Southeast Asia

“With 30-petaflop AI computing power, the ‘Apex’ cluster deployed at CMKL is one of the most powerful AI-focused infrastructure in Thailand and this region. The infrastructure will be a part of federated AI computing facilities deployed across universities in Thailand.

It also serves as the central repository for AI corpuses & research datasets supported by MHESI and PMU-C. Its aim is to push AI to solve real-world use cases.

We collaborate with TCC Technology and leading technology companies to make the system available to the much needed areas of research that will enhance the country’s competitiveness. With training speed as the key to success for AI project, high performance computing means more work can be done and more opportunity for researchers to turn AI research ideas to business opportunities,” said Dr. Akkarit Sangpetch, CMKM (Thailand) program director at CMKL University.

Petaflops indicates a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second.

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Are Bank Boardrooms in need of more Air Jordans instead of Pinstripes?

The world’s largest banks continue to lack technology expertise and digital approaches, even as adoption has increased.

According to a new report from Accenture, based on an analysis of the professional backgrounds of nearly 2,000 directors of more than 100 of the world’s largest banks by assets, found that while banks are ramping up their technology investments to keep pace with changing consumer demands ― such as the growing need for digital interaction and remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boards of these banks lack the technology expertise to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits of their technology investments.

Rapid tech adoption

“Much of the disruption brought about by the pandemic has led to a rapid shift within banking to more digital touchpoints, requiring speedy technology investments,” said Mauro Macchi, who leads Accenture Strategy & Consulting in Europe. “Banks that are accelerating their cloud adoption to better manage change would benefit from a board with technology experience that can help ensure that technology investments are compatible across various business units.”

The report does not give particular pain points but has chosen to generalise a bank’s approach towards tech adoption. This gives rise to the debate again on whether banks need to leverage tech or become technology companies themselves. One cannot expect the latter as they are not in the business of tech.

According to the report, Accenture recommends that 25 per cent of banks’ Board should have technology experience. While the world’s largest banks have made progress on adding technology experience in the boardroom ― which Accenture defines as executives holding or having held senior technology positions at a company or senior responsibilities at a technology firm ― that progress has been slow.

For instance, only 10 per cent of all board directors, as well as 10 per cent of the CEOs on the boards, evaluated for the report have professional technology experience, up just 4 and 6 percentage points, respectively, from five years ago.

In addition, the number of banks whose board has at least one member with professional technology experience has increased only 10 percentage points in the past five years, from 57- 67 per cecnt ― meaning that one-third of banks still have no board members with professional technology experience.

Tech’s tango with Banker’s trust

So, does this mean that ‘technology experienced’ professionals can better navigate any disruptions around the corner? The answer is nuanced. “Banks are traditionally regulated and resistant to change. Parachuting a few tech-savvy Board members can add some acumen,” says Nitin Kumar, Executive Chaiman at Ligl and author of a new of the book CEO 3.io -Driving Exponential Change.

However, Kumar added that they need to ensure that disruptive and new technology is used to develop new markets or new value propositions and not make the old operations, products and services better.

The report, on a positive note, while only 19 per cent of the directors with technology experience five years ago were women, that figure is currently 33 per cent.

From a geographic perspective, the report found that the boards of banks in the UK, Finland, Ireland and the US have higher percentages of directors with professional technology experience than those in other countries, with sizeable increases compared with the 2015 findings.

However, the percentage of banks’ Board of Directors with technology experience is still very low in Brazil, China, Russia and various countries across Europe, including Austria and Italy.

“While it’s not practical for banks to make a rash number of tech-savvy board appointments to fill the gap in technology credentials, they should consider technology expertise as a factor for new appointments, alongside their other evaluation criteria,” Macchi said.

There are also other, more immediate ways to increase technology expertise among board members — for example, coach members on the latest developments on key technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence and IoT to better understand how the combination of technology and human ingenuity unlocks value.

Boards can also tap into the expertise of third-party suppliers and make time to specifically discuss the technology strategy during board meetings to get the most out of their investments, adds Macchi.

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Pine Labs launches ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ in Malaysia

Asian merchant e-commerce platform Pine Labs, has launched its Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering in Malaysia.

Pine Labs has already achieved success with offline BNPL services in India where it has 95 per cent market share. The foray into Malaysia by the company’s subsidiary Pine Payment Solutions Sdn Bhd, which is a subsidiary of Pine Labs Pte Ltd.

The development comes at an interesting time when there is pent-up demand among consumers. After a prolonged period of lockdown, consumers want easier access to credit and merchants are looking for newer ways to revive sales.

Pine Labs’ BNPL launch in Malaysia will further accelerate digital payments adoption in the country and make it possible for merchants to sell more in this tough business environment post the pandemic.

Key investors in Pine Labs include Actis Capital, Mastercard, PayPal, Sequoia India and Temasek.

“We’re quite upbeat about the expansion plans around our very successful tech-focused Buy Now Pay Later product and are excited at its launch in Malaysia. It is an attractive option for all stakeholders, including consumers, who get affordable buying options, merchants who are getting an enticing proposition to woo customers back to the stores and boost their sales, banks and brands who get to build their brand loyalty. This integrated solution that we launched with Mastercard will now be further expanded to newer markets in the region,” said Kush Mehra, Chief Business Officer, Pine Labs.

CIMB Bank, AmBank, HSBC Bank, AFFIN BANK, and RHB Bank are the top banks in Malaysia that are already on Pine Labs’ BNPL platform. Some of the key merchants for which this solution will soon be rolling out include Senheng, DirectD, Ogawa, Gintell, Herbaline, and E.S.H. Electrical.

“At DirectD, our mission is to help every Malaysian stay connected via smart devices. We believe consumers today are looking for affordable ways to pay for their purchases. Pine Labs’ integrated technology-backed solution makes the Pay Later activation a seamless process, hence improving customer journey. We look forward to leveraging Pine Labs’ capabilities in enhancing our current system.” said Amy Tan, Communications Director, DirectD Retail & Wholesale Sdn Bhd, the largest and fastest-growing mobile phone retailer in Malaysia.

Also, Pine Labs subsidiary, Qwikcilver has made significant progress in evangelising and pioneering the Prepaid Stored Value and Gift Card category in the Southeast Asian region over the last two years.

The Qwikcilver Stored Value technology platform is now the most preferred Gift Card suite adopted by the leading organisations and networks in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Some of the flagship enterprises, networks and brands that have deployed the Qwikcilver Stored Value technology suite include Lazada, CapitaLand, Frasers Group, PT. Mitra Adiperkasa (MAP Group), Indonesia amongst others.

Pine Labs provides an offline payments solution where on a single terminal, multiple credit issuers can make BNPL offers to customers. This could be an interesting offering in Malaysia, an economy that is expected to post positive growth this year as per a projection by The World Bank.

The company has ambitious plans to launch BNPL in the rest of the Southeast Asia markets. Late last year, Pine Labs had announced its intent to launch an integrated pay later instalment solution in partnership with Mastercard to markets like Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia.

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NTT Global acquires 55 acres of land from Indian steel maker Mukand for $106 mn

Steel maker Mukand has completed the transfer of 55 acres of surplus leasehold land to NTT Global for $106 million.

The surplus leasehold land is at Thane, a district close to Mumbai and was sold to NTT Global Nav2 Pvt. Ltd.

“The realised amount will be utilised for debt repayment of the steel maker,” Mukand said in a letter to shareholders. Mukand had a total debt of almost $300 million. In December 2020, Mukand entered into an agreement for transfer of this 55 acres of land and the accompanying structures at the Trans Thane Creek Industrial Area (TTC Industrial Area), Dighe and Navi Mumbai.

For NTT Global, this is a part of its ongoing efforts to increase its data centre infrastructure play. In September last year, NTT Limited had said that is planning to invest $2 billion in the next four years for building additional data centres, solar parks and investing in its undersea cable network.

The investments will go into Data Centres, setting up of multiple solar parks, expansion into cities such as Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru and construction of the optical submarine cable, connecting Singapore, Myanmar and India. “We are increasing our footprint seeing a significant growth in demand for IT infrastructure related needs in the country,” Sharad Sanghi, CEO of NTT Ltd had said.

NTT Ltd’s Global Data Centers and Cloud Infrastructure division in India currently operates with 10 data centers across 4 major cities with 1.5 million sq. ft. and over 150 MW of power capacity. Apart from Mumbai, NTT India recently got allotted six acres of land for bringing up 70 MW of capacity data centre, again in the Greater Noida region in India’s most populated state- Uttar Pradesh.

According to 451 Research, the data center market is growing at 23 per cent CAGR due to increased demand from global cloud providers and a proposed data sovereignty law by the Indian government, as well as other geopolitical factors.

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When: 20-22 April 2021

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Digital Week is returning to do a deep dive into the Cloud & Datacenter industries of FIVE new markets: Korea, Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Join us as we bring together 2500+ IT leaders from across Northeast Asia, covering everything from sustainable infrastructure to cloud security to digital transformation. Digital Week lets you expand your network and engage with new markets from wherever you are.
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