Deutsche Bank Securities and Hashstacs finish PoC for crypto-assets and sustainability-related digital bonds

Deutsche Bank’s Securities Services business in Singapore and Hashstacs (STACS) have finished their proof-of-concept (PoC) Project ‘Benja’.

Project ‘Benja’ was on the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for crypto-assets and sustainability-related digital bonds. Set in the context of the nascent ‘tokenised’ securities in the securities market, the two organisations worked on achieving digital assets interoperability across various platforms, along with support for custody solutions.

The PoC grant is part of the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) scheme under the Financial Sector Development Fund – which is administered by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Deutsche Bank’s domain expertise and the respective teams’ technical designs were combined with STACS’ live DLT platform which allows for end-to-end bonds lifecycle management.

STACS and the Deutsche Bank Securities Services were awarded the PoC grant in October 2020. The funding support was acquired to conduct relevant experiments, development and implementation of new technologies in order to support the digital financial services sector.

 

Industry tested

 

The PoC’s results were subsequently tested with industry participants – UBS, Malaysia National Stock Exchange Bursa Malaysia, and Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) whose perspectives enriched the PoC with more holistic assessments.

Through their partnership, Deutsche Bank and STACS have been able to successfully remodel and streamline the workflows in order to develop a “Bond in a Box” DLT platform. This helps unlock additional efficiencies along with the ability to issue smart contracts.

The integration has reportedly been tested with payment modes such as UBIN and Diem (formerly Libra), digital custody and asset servicing, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) financing transparency requirements.

Anand Rengarajan, Asia Pacific Head of Securities Services at Deutsche Bank, said: “We are pleased with the results of this PoC. With innovation at the forefront of our strategy, it is important to us to actively contribute to, and participate in the future of capital markets from a post-trade servicing perspective.

This POC allowed us to assess the practical handling of tokenised assets, as well as the opportunities and challenges that could arise from their commercialisation in Singapore and potentially in other markets.”

Kamran Khan, APAC Head of ESG at Deutsche Bank said: “Data transparency, reliability and security are corner stones of the emerging ESG capital market. This cutting-edge ‘bond in a box’ POC successfully explored the synergies between Fintech and ESG, using distributed ledger and smart contracts capabilities with cross-platform interoperability for ESG-compliant digital securities.”

Benjamin Soh, MD at STACS, said: “We are excited to have taken the first step towards turning a proof-of-concept to a proof-of-commercialisation, through our collaboration with Deutsche Bank, and with other leading financial industry participants. In addition, with the world’s focus turning towards ESG and sustainability, we look forward to expanding our network’s efforts in the sustainability push of the next few decades, via DLT technology as the common technology infrastructural nexus.”

Monetary Authority Of Singapore launch initiatives to accelerate Green Finance

A financial industry taskforce convened by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched today several initiatives to accelerate green finance in Singapore through improving disclosures and fostering green solutions.

The Green Finance Industry Taskforce (GFIT) issued a detailed implementation guide for climate-related disclosures by financial institutions; a framework to help banks assess eligible green trade finance transactions and a whitepaper on scaling green finance in the real estate, infrastructure, fund management and transition sectors.

The Green Finance Industry Taskforce (GFIT), convened by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), comprises representatives from financial institutions, corporates, non-governmental organisations, and financial industry associations.

 

Framework for Green Trade Finance

 

The framework for green trade finance and working capital provides a principles-based approach for banks to assess eligible green trade finance transactions, and specific guidance on recommended industry certifications for trade finance activities to qualify as green. Guided by this framework, HSBC and UOB have piloted four green trade finance transactions for renewable energy, recycling, agriculture and farming activities, to support businesses in greening their supply chains.

The guide on implementing climate-related disclosures sets out best practices that are aligned with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The guide also outlines specific disclosure practices for each of the banking, insurance and asset management sectors, taking into consideration the different approaches that individual sectors could take.

The guide will help to enhance the quality of Financial Institutions’ (FIs) climate disclosures, and facilitate more consistent and comparable disclosures across FIs.

Ms Gillian Tan, Assistant Managing Director (Development and International), MAS, said, “GFIT’s initiatives to enhance climate-related disclosures and strengthen green capabilities will enable financial institutions to effectively develop green solutions and align their portfolios towards facilitating Asia’s transition to a low carbon economy. These initiatives will also contribute to global efforts to achieve greater consistency and comparability in climate-related disclosures, as well as provide investors and market participants with the necessary information for climate risk analysis and investment decision-making.”

GFIT will also launch for FIs and corporates a series of workshops to build capacity in green finance, with support from its industry association partners.

Join our long awaited 3rd Edition of Singapore Cloud and Datacenter Convention to hear more insights on new tech and green initiatives during the presentation “Banking and Finance on Cloud” on 29 July 2021 at Sands Convention Centre.

Secure your seat (limited capacity) and learn more about the event at https://w.media/singapore-cloud-datacenter-convention-2021/#1617790109702-6fe4d695-14cf

Adani Green Energy to acquire SB Energy’s 5 GW India RE portfolio for $3.5 billion

Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL) has signed share purchase agreements to acquire SB Energy India and Bharti Group’s renewable energy assets for an Enterprise Value of $3.5 billion.

This development could be a watershed moment in India’s renewable energy sector.

SB Energy India is a joint venture between Japan-based SoftBank Group which holds 80 per cent and Bharti Group which holds 20 per cent. This joint venture had a total renewable portfolio of 4,954 MW spread across four states in India.

 

RE portfolio mix

 

The target portfolio consists large scale utility assets with 84 per cent solar capacity (4,180 MW), 9 per cent wind-solar hybrid capacity (450 MW) and 7 per cent wind capacity (324 MW). The portfolio comprises of 1,400 MW operational solar power capacity and a further 3,554 MW is under construction.

All projects have 25 year PPAs with sovereign rated counterparties such as Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI), NTPC Limited and NHPC Limited. The operating assets forming part of the portfolio are primarily solar park based projects and have been built following best in class governance, project development, construction, and operations and maintenance practices, resulting in this being one of the highest quality renewable portfolios in the country, Adani Group said.

Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group, said that this acquisition is another step towards the vision we stated in January 2020, wherein it laid out its plans to become the world’s largest solar player by 2025 and thereafter the world’s largest renewable company by 2030. India, without any doubt, has been one of the few nations that has accelerated its global commitment towards climate change and the group intends to do its part to execute on the promises made.

“The renewable energy platform that we are building will lay the foundation for attracting several other global industries that are increasingly looking to reduce their carbon footprint (as well as lay the foundation for opening up adjacent platforms that include Hydrogen and Storage). We are well on our way to achieve our stated solar portfolio targets four years before the deadline we set for ourselves.

The quality of assets that SoftBank and the Bharti Group have built are excellent and I compliment their efforts to support India’s renewable energy transition. We are proud to take their legacy forward,” he said.

Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., said: “We established SB Energy India in 2015 with the goal of creating a market-leading clean energy company to help fuel India’s growth with clean and renewable sources of energy. We are immensely proud of all that we have accomplished. As SBG continues our transition to a global investment holding company focused on accelerating the deployment of artificial intelligence, we believe now is the right time to bring in the Adani Group to help drive the next phase of SB Energy India’s growth.”

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said: “I am delighted that SB Energy has found a good home to carry on its pioneering journey of building a foremost renewable energy company in India. Adani Group has an outstanding track record of building a green energy powerhouse which will get further acceleration with the combination of SB Energy into its fold. I am glad that Bharti could play a constructive role in partnership with SoftBank.”

With this acquisition, AGEL will achieve total renewable capacity of 24.3 GW and operating renewable capacity of 4.9 GW. This acquisition demonstrates AGEL’s intent to be the leader in sustainable energy transition globally and makes it one of the largest renewable energy platforms in the world.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary approvals and conditions. The transaction values SB Energy India at an enterprise valuation of approximately $US 3.5 billion.

 

Surbana Jurong and Institute of Technical Education to partner for nurturing digital talent in built environment sector

Surbana Jurong and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance the national effort to transition the labour-intensive Facilities Management industry to a higher-value, productive one powered by data analytics, predictive maintenance and smart solutions.

A key element of the partnership focuses on training ITE students in Engineering and Info-communication Technology including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Information Modelling (BIM), Data Engineering, Digitalisation, Digital Facility Management, Digital Asset Monitoring, and Mixed and Virtual Reality (MR/VR).

 

Tech-fuelled transition

 

As a part of this effort, Temasek-owned Surbana Jurong will set up the ITE-Surbana Jurong Living Learning Lab (L3) at ITE Colleges. L3, envisioned to be a Smart Digital Campus, will be equipped with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Lift Monitoring Performance Devices, Surbana Jurong’s 24K Integrated Platform of smart technologies to enable students and academia to experiment and apply them in various operating environments.

Globally, by and large, the construction industry has been a laggard when it comes to honing talent with digital skillsets. In this context, Singapore is pioneering the much needed change.

The Construction Industry Transformation Map, provided by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority, has outlined the need to build a tech-leveraging built environment workforce for a smart nation. With more smart city solutions being developed in the region, students with these skillsets will be well-positioned to contribute to the sector upon graduation.

Ms Low Khah Gek, Chief Executive Officer, ITE, said, “ITE is pleased to partner Surbana Jurong in nurturing skilled manpower for the built environment sector. This MOU not only benefits ITE staff and students, but also in-service employees in this sector who are keen to upskill to use emerging technologies. We look forward to the Living Learning Labs at each of the three ITE Colleges. Each Lab will be equipped with the latest smart technologies to provide authentic learning and opportunity for real-world practical applications.”

Mr Wong Heang Fine, Group Chief Executive Officer of Surbana Jurong, said, “Surbana Jurong has a major stake in building a robust ecosystem that supports the transformation of the built environment through the entire value chain. Nurturing a future-ready talent force is a critical pillar of the eco-system. We are committed to working with ITE and other Institutes of Higher Learning to equip built environment professionals with deep skills to transition to greater value creation.”

Surbana Jurong’s integrated smart city solutions are developed from over 30 years of experience in deploying its digital applications in Singapore’s public housing and large-scale infrastructure assets.

Surbana Jurong will also commit to the training of ITE students, ITE lecturers and adult learners to fuel future-ready built environment professionals. The company will offer internships and learning journeys, participate as a Sponsoring Company for the ITE Work-Study Diploma (WSDip), and co-develop and co-deliver training courses for adult learners under ITE’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) framework.

ITE staff will also benefit from industry attachments to upgrade their skills. These opportunities will afford students, adult learners and staff exposure to latest industry trends and practices.

According to the partnership, Surbana Jurong will also sponsor Course Medals to outstanding ITE students from built environment courses annually, to recognise and encourage young talent.

South Korea may consider expanding of tax credit for chipmaking industry

South Korea’s chief economic policymaker said that the government will consider expanding tax credit programmes for chipmaking-related research and development (R&D) and facility investment to nurture the non-memory chipmaking industry.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the government is studying ways to increase tax benefits and policy support for the semiconductor industry to help local chipmakers sharpen their competitive edges.

South Korea is a powerhouse of memory chips, led by Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, and houses other chipmakers such as SK Hynix Inc.

The country plans to set up a 280 billion-won ($248 million) fund to support the development of chipmaking technology this year, according to Hong.

Semiconductors accounted for some 20 per cent of the country’s exports. In April, South Korea granted its approval to chipmaker SK Hynix for its $106 billion project to build a semiconductor complex. South Korea said the latest investment is expected to ease supply shortages in the global market as well. South Korea’s exports of chips increased 5.6 per cent to $99.1 billion in 2020.

Global shortages

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially increased tech adoption across business, chipmakers have struggled recently due to a combination of factors- from water shortages to natural disasters.

Regarding the global shortage of automotive chips, Hong said the supply squeeze may peak in May.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. has suspended part of its plants in the country due to a shortage of electronics parts amid a global supply crunch of automotive chips.

Recently, Japan has sought help from some Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers, after a fire had hit one of the chip plants.

In April, a Renesas Electronic 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.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of the world’s largest chipmakers, recently unveiled plans to invest $100 billion to increase the output of semiconductor chips to keep up with rising global demand. Additionally, many Chinese companies from different sectors are speeding up efforts to enter the semiconductors sector.

Companies from sectors such as automobiles, smartphone manufacturers and home appliance producers, are getting into semiconductors, at a time when the world is facing a shortage of chips.

 

How China’s Digital economy gained momentum in 2020

The word ‘Qiáng’ means powerful in Chinese.

Qiáng could be used to refer to China’s Digital economy, which has continued to grow at a blistering pace in 2020. This was largely aided by businesses going digital as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent white paper on the Chinese digital economy development said that digital economy in China kept a high expansion rate of 9.7 per cent last year, amidst the pandemic and worldwide economic downturn.

The paper pointed out that the expansion rate of the digital economy was over three times that of the GDP, therefore demonstrating its pivotal role in stimulating economic growth.

The paper was released by the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology at the fourth Digital China Summit in Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian Province.

The scale of the Chinese digital economy points to some stunning numbers. The Digital economy hit 39.2 trillion yuan (around USD6 trillion) in 2020, making up for 38.6 per cent of the GDP, which successfully backed epidemic prevention and control, along with economic growth.

Digital economy & GDP

The digital economy in Beijing and Shanghai both made up for over half of its regional GDP.

The report also noted that the digital economy accounted for 51.3 per cent of GDP in developed countries in 2019, while the number was 26.8 per cent in developing countries.

What this illustrates is that even though it is slightly less when compared to other economies, it is growing fast.

Fast, affordable internet connection and abundant data availability which is being harnessed lay the ground for exponential future growth. According to official data, the number of internet users in China was 940 million by the first half of 2020 and the country had an internet penetration rate of 67 per cent, 749 million online shoppers, and 805 million online payment users.

 

 

There’s also the rise of tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and a host of others who are the torch bearers of China’s march going forward.

Industry watchers view this development through the lens of self-sufficiency in tech and having the right talent, considering the clout of American firms. According to Santosh Pai, Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), the recently released annual work report of Chinese government is full of technology ambition.

“I think that is the broader theme. After US-China trade war and anti-China backlash post covid they are focusing on technology self-sufficiency,” he added.

Professor Chen Yubo from the School of Economics and Management and director of the Center for Internet Development and Governance at Tsinghua University recently wrote in China Daily that China needs to nurture and attract skilled digital talent to promote its digital transformation.

“As talent is the most important resource, digital talent is the foundation underpinning the future of the digital economy. To better tap the digital talent dividend and make up for its talent shortage, China needs to drive supply-side reforms of its labour market and education with digital skills and education that is tailored to industry needs and scientific breakthroughs,” he wrote.

Defend and Attack strategy

China made arguably the most important digital strategy decision in the history of the IT industry.

It decided it would not let the giant American companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon to set up locally and then dominate the Chinese market, a strategy which was pursued in other nations. Instead, it decided to lend its weight behind its own firms—especially Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to build similar technology services. Now that strategy seems to be paying off.

According to McKinsey Global, China’s digital economy is massive, with an estimated $1.5 trillion of online retail transactions in 2019, or 25 per cent of the nation’s total retail transactions—more than twice both the volume and proportion of e-commerce in the United States.

The pandemic has accelerated digitisation all over the world. China was already ahead of the curve and now finds more justification to push forward digitisation.

“Government initiatives like Digital Yuan will build on the efforts private players over last few years,” noted Pai.

Also, like in India, industry watchers are of the view that the non-urban areas will be a key focus area of digitization in China. “The (digitisation) activity in urban areas are already saturated with e-commerce, ride hailing and other digital services,” states Pai.

Further, increasing domestic consumption in support of the dual circulation economy will also be driven by digitalization using the 5G infrastructure.

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.

KT Corporation & Samsung establish world’s first 3GPP-based nationwide public safety LTE network

KT Corporation and Samsung Electronics have established the world’s first 3GPP-based nationwide public safety LTE (PS-LTE) network.

Both the leading South Korean companies essentially joined hands to enhance the country’s real-time accident and natural disaster response system. The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) is an industry body consisting of various organisations that establish cellular communication technology standards globally.

As real-time communication requires a reliable network connection, the partners aimed to develop solutions that support communication between numerous institutions, enabling them to respond to emergencies quickly and efficiently. In particular, KT and Samsung opened a PS-LTE network for major cities, rural areas, public offices, tourist sites, and other spaces.

What is PS-LTE network?

The new network operates in the 700 Megahertz spectrum and delivers high-speed and stable connectivity for first responders. Moreover, the PS-LTE network provides critical communication covering eight sectors and more than 330 public safety agencies. Some of the institutes involved in the network include paramedic services, the police, the military, firefighting organisations and power providers.

Samsung has also applied its Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) to the network, improving its data and video delivering and multimedia broadcast capabilities. According to KT, the public safety network could effectively prevent traffic spikes and handle real-time communication between over 2,500 devices. KT also added that the country’s previous emergency response network could only support a 1,200-device communication.

“Samsung is proud to take part in building the world’s first nationwide PS-LTE network based on 3GPP standards in Korea, leveraging our end-to-end PS-LTE solutions,” said Kim Seung-Il, VP of Samsung Electronics’ Network Business. Kim also stated that Samsung would continue developing and launching advanced PS-LTE technologies to improve the South Korean PS-LTE network. Additionally, Samsung aims to meet the highest reliability, performance, and security PS-LTE standards through its new infrastructure and solution developments.

Besides rapidly notifying over 240,000 first responders during emergencies, the PS-LTE network also interconnects with Korea’s LTE-Railway and LTE-Maritime networks. KT and Samsung constructed three control centers in Daegu, Jeju, and Seoul, integrating a dual system to counter system failure. Aside from offering a real-time unified communication platform, the next-generation, high-performance PS-LTE network guarantees data reliability and secures operational continuity.

Data Centre tech needs upgradation for effective 5G

Technological advancement in all aspects of humankind is taking place every day.

Fifth generation telecommunication networks or 5G, is the latest invention. Initially, the invention of the 2nd generation (2G) brought about the spread of mobile phones across the world at the beginning 20th century.

After a while, the 3rd generation (3G) came along and pushed the increase of mobile applications on the first smartphones, which were invented shortly after the 2nd generation network (2G).

To increase the smartphone’s efficiency already in the market, innovators and technologists around the world have yet to come up with another generation of the telecommunication network, the 4th generation (4G). 4G improved the smartphone application’s messaging speeds to curb some of the drawbacks of its predecessor, the 3G network technology.

The telecommunication network is now focusing on the 5G technology, which is meant to increase the speed and reduce latency and be able to connect as many devices as possible in the same central point such as data centres. (Reference: “THE IMPACT OF THE 5G REVOLUTION ON THE DATA CENTER | DATA4”, 2021).

Additionally, according to Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance, it will be possible for individuals to get access to information from available data centres faster than previous generations. For instance, 5G will increase the download speeds from anywhere globally to support up to 50MBPS, regardless of the kind of devices one is using.

Also, it will be possible to stream more than one 8K resolution quality video with high-end clarity without experiencing downtime like with the 4G technology. These fantastic capabilities of 5G are enhanced by the increased speeds and very low latency.

Businesses will be required to allow 5G technology to affect their operations to give room for human-machine dialogue and the implementation of Artificial Intelligence with the data centres and connected devices. Due to these improvements, data centres will get more strength, and their role with the world will spread from large cities to small cities (Young, 2021).

Upgrades, need of the hour

However, for the data centres to have the capacity to handle this kind of enormous amount of data, high speeds and low latency across all platforms, each technology piece requires to updated to accommodate 5G infrastructures and software. The current 4G telecommunication devices such as switches, routers and servers will require the appropriate upgrades to facilitate smooth transitions with the data centres.

The benefits to data centres are that new opportunities will emerge for the existing ones, which will be established to support the enormous volumes of data in demand. Therefore, public and private data centres will need to reconstruct the available structures to handle flexibility that is already incorporated in the 5th generation that was not part of the current 4G technology.

Better planning

The cost to meet such requirements will be high, requiring the data centres to budget more on the 5G technology (Young, 2021). Consecutively, since edge computing and 5G are less likely to work and co-exist together, they are a higher possibility that they will exploit each other functionality leading to the establishment of smaller data centres to handle a large volume of data that will need to be processed over small geographical areas.

There is no efficient way to process data at the edge computing technology; preferably, the traditional methods are used to process such data. To eliminate these old technologies, which cannot handle 5G technology, the service providers will be forced to incorporate edge computing nodes in their mesh and other network topologies to support the requirements ofthe 5G in their data centres.(Choudhary, 2019).

The benefits of doing this will be increase data flow into and out of data centres. Furthermore, data centres will also be required to embrace Radio Access Network (RAN) to open opportunities for virtualization of 4RAN networks. Such advancements will allow convergence of local data centres with data center spaces. Finally, data centres will need to enhance their data and information reliability and redundancy, which will be facilitated by edge computing and local data centres.

Since the volume of data will increase, the amount of storage in data centres will be required to be enlarged to handle all the information.(Choudhary, 2019)

For instance, most data centres will be forced to collaborate with other storage technology, including cloud computing for data storage spaces. As a result, data will be more available to users than with other generations of telecommunication technologies. It will be simple for the data centres to provide efficient and up to data from cloud storage. Furthermore, network slicing is another benefit Internet of Things (IoT) will gain from data centres as 5G will allow virtual networks to create and provide more flexible connectivity to meet customers with specific needs. However, this technology has a lot of uncertainty which data centres do not know about since only a few experiments have been done on this improvement.

 

References

Choudhary, B. (2019).What Will Be the Impact of 5G Technology on Data centres?. Colocation America. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from https://www.colocationamerica.com/blog/5g-data-center.

THE IMPACT OF THE 5G REVOLUTION ON THE DATA CENTER | DATA4. DATA4Smart Data centres at Scale. (2021). Retrieved 24 February 2021, from

https://www.data4group.com/en/market-trends/the-impact-of-the-5g-revolution-on-the-data-center/#:~:text=With%20greater%20speed%20and%20data,the%20way%20we%20learn%2C%20communicate.

Young, J. (2021).How 5G will affect the structure of data centres. Datacenterdynamics.com. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/analysis/how-5g-will-affect-structure-data-centres/.

Business value a key factor for tech adoption: Lan Kwai Fong Group

Over the last three decades, Lan Kwai Fong Group has established itself as a household name in Asia.

With extensive brands, properties and investments, the group is highly regarded as the foremost entertainment, hospitality and lifestyle brand in the region. A market leader in a host of different fields as varied as F&B, retail, leisure and entertainment, the COVID-19 pandemic came as a jolt- especially considering the fact that the Group is in an industry which involves a human touch. At the same time, businesses have to evolve and accordingly Lan Kwai Fong Group embraced digitalisation.

Key learnings

So, what challenges did the Group face? Did it have to spend a lot in the digitalisation journey? How complex was the process?

Addressing 1,000 plus delegates at W.Media’s Digital Week Northeast Asia edition, Vincent Alliaga, Director of Technology, Lan Kwai Fong Group outlined that it embarked on its digital journey with caution and pragmatism.

“We took a pragmatic approach and the predominant focus was the business value that it (technology) brings,” said Alliaga. For starters, the Group decided that many expensive solutions have zero impact on the business. It is impossible to find a solution that works with everything. So, we looked at tech that can easlily connect to existing systems, stated Alliaga.

He gave the example of Lan Kwai Fong Group’s CRM system. “Some databases are old – like in the F&B industry. Others such as CRM in the property industry is fairly advanced. We look at solutions that work well with each other.”

Some of Lan Kwai Fong Group’s restaurant systems were not touched for the past decade, and these are working well with its newer systems. “Changes are good but changes fr the sake of doing it, is not advisable. At the end of the day, CTOs can think of the perfect system but it has to gel with the business requirements,” pointed out Alliaga.

 

 

Lan Kwai Fong Group also decided to transform some of its systems. As an example, in August last year, in the midst of pandemic, it moved to an e-commerce model, without making large investments. It was architected in such a way that the investments and return on investments were in tune with each other.

Also, Lan Kwai Fong Group’s property development business has different flavours across different geograpahies. Also, customer experience was a key focus area, considering that it is a services industry.

Alliaga explains. “In Hong Kong, property development is done in a traditional way. Last year we had to sell remotely to buyers in Hong Kong, China. We adopted Virtual Reality (VR) and virtual visits. We ensured that it is tied to a business value and not just doing VR for the sake of VR. I can say it has helped our sales people.”

Industries that have faced biggest challenges include hospitality and in these tough times changing the culture of a business set in its ways, is often a challenge. “It is hard to tell them that you need the screen to interface with the people but ultimately it is about understanding the customer better. In the property industry it is slightly better,” summed up Alliaga.

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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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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.

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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Extreme IX partners with CtrlS to establish an Internet eXchange Point in Mumbai

Extreme IX, an Internet Exchange Point has entered into a collaboration with CtrlS Datacenters to start its Point of Presence (PoP) in CtrlS facility in Mahape, Navi Mumbai in India.

With this POP, it aims to provide consumers access to superior interconnection services. The launch of this PoP in Navi Mumbai is a part of the recently announced expansion plans to address the growing internet consumption while ensuring buffer and lag-free experience. With this, Extreme IX in Mumbai has a total of 12 PoPs, the company said.

Also, the strategic partnership with CtrlS will extend cutting-edge technology to the members of the network, thus making the interconnection seamless. Through these points of access, the company in collaboration with CtrlS is consistently working towards extending its mission to help the internet service provider ecosystem by boosting local traffic exchange.

Sridhar Pinnapureddy, Founder and CEO, CtrlS said, ”Data centres and Internet Exchange Points are the perfect combination that can lead to the speedy adoption of Digital India. We are excited to be partnering with Extreme IX, our partnership will enable consumers to opt for reliable and efficient interconnection solutions.” He further added, “Our customers will benefit from reduced latency, lowered cost backed by robust internet connectivity, besides improved user experience.”

Raunak Maheshwari, Executive Director, Extreme group said, “Extreme IX since the beginning of its operations in India is working towards establishing a well-organised data transfer ecosystem. Our strategic and long-lasting collaboration to extend services across the country will help bring internet-enabled content closer to the end-consumers while encouraging more companies to adopt our services.”

Currently servicing out of 24 points of access across the country, Extreme IX with its steady expansion is attempting to enable a more neutral and faster interconnection platform in the country.

India is one of the biggest internet consumers in the world and thus the demand for an efficient interconnection service is increasing. Extreme IX currently has a network of over 350 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) directly connecting content providers like Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Akamai. Participants in Extreme IX increased by 40 per cent in the year 2020 and is currently operational in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, according to the company.

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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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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Disney+ Hotstar signs multi-year deal for CLEAR Production Cloud

Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), the technology arm of Prime Focus said that Disney-owned video streaming service Disney+ Hotstar has signed a multi-year deal for CLEAR Production Cloud.

This deal is to enable secure and collaborative production workflows for their ‘Originals’ content, the company said. Disney+ Hotstar is an OTT service provider in India.

CLEAR gives users the flexibility to log-in from anywhere, anytime to upload, review, approve, edit, and share content. It allows for user-friendly features like mobile (iOS and Android) and Apple TV support, virtual playlist editor, elastic search engine, customizable projects homepage, and next-gen HTML5 Player, that will change the way the production teams work and collaborate at Disney+ Hotstar. CLEAR is bolstered with industry-leading security including powerful administration control, 256-bit encryption, JIT watermarking, Okta SSO, enterprise-scale managed security operations and, threat protection.

“COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of cloud-based workflows for Media & Entertainment industry in production. And virtualised collaboration is a heightened requirement now more than ever for our Originals. We evaluated multiple products in the market place and found CLEAR to be more promising to cater to our production supply chain needs. We will now be using CLEAR to handle our supply chain for all of our Originals” said Akash Saxena – Head of Technology, Disney+ Hotstar.

“We are extremely delighted to be supporting Disney+ Hotstar on yet another transformation initiative. We’ve been managing production workflows in Hollywood for over 10 years and are excited to have a major studio in India sign up for CLEAR to help manage their production workflows — from pre-production prep files, schedules, scripts to production dailies and post-production cuts all on ONE software,” said Ramki Sankaranarayanan, Founder and Global CEO, Prime Focus Technologies.

NeoSOFT partners with Tonik for Neo Bank in Southeast Asia

NeoSOFT Technologies, one of India’s leading IT consulting and software solutions provider, said that it is the exclusive technology partner of Tonik.

Tonik is Southeast Asia’s first digital bank and have launched their first innovative Neo Bank in the Philippines.

A Neo bank is a digital direct bank that only reaches customers on mobile apps and personal computer platforms. It gets an edge over the traditional or legacy banking systems by virtue of it being ‘only digital’ presence.

This Neo bank is built on cloud-native, open API, multi-cloud strategy and delivered over true Agile or DevSecOps mode, is fully digital with no branch and will revolutionise the way money works in Southeast Asia. Tonik entrusted NeoSOFT for its talent pool across diverse technology areas to develop its Neo Bank mobile and web application.

Working on the philosophy of trust, transparency, and accountability, NeoSOFT has driven value and innovation throughout the entire product development cycle. Certified engineers, top-notch skills, and adeptness on the latest tools and frameworks have been the pillars behind Tonik’s Neo Bank’s successful launch, the company said.

“NeoSOFT is happy to see Tonik drive transformation in the spectrum of Neo Banks and be passionate about improving people’s financial lives through the use of technology in an era of absolute disruption triggered by new-age technologies like AI, ML, Edge Computing, Automation, etc.,” said Nishant Rathi, CEO and Founder of NeoSOFT Technologies.

In the consumer banking sector, Neo banking gets more optimistic today and is here to drive a significant disruption in the fintech arena. Neo banks are increasingly finding increased acceptance globally. Recently, in March, Rewire, a fintech start-up that develops cross-border online banking services tailored for the needs of expatriate workers worldwide, announced a Series B funding round of $20 million and a significant line of credit from a leading bank. Similarly, InstantPay, India’s largest Neo bank, is eyeing a revenue of around US$50 million (Rs 350 crore) in FY21, an impressive three-and-a-half times growth in the last three years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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Indian women-led startup develops deep-tech for low-cost internet services

Astrome, a women-led startup, has developed an innovative wireless product that gives fibre-like bandwidth at fraction of cost.

This would help telecom operators deliver reliable low-cost internet services to suburban and rural areas. Providing internet access to remote places in countries like India is difficult because laying fibre is too expensive.

This has resulted in a need for wireless backhaul products that can deliver low cost, high data capacity, and wide reach. However, currently available wireless backhaul products either do not provide sufficient data speeds or the required range and are very expensive to deploy, industry watchers opine.

It is here that Astrome has sensed an opportunity. Their wireless product called Giga Mesh could enable telecom operators deploy quality, high-speed rural telecom infrastructure at 5 times lower cost. Rural connectivity customers and defence customers who have already signed up for pilots will soon witness the demonstration of this product by Astrome.

The deep tech startup, incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and supported by DST-ABI Woman Startup Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India proved their millimeter-wave multi-beam technology in the lab in 2018, for which the company has been granted a patent in India and US.

Since then, the technology has been converted to a powerful and scalable product called Giga Mesh, which can solve much of the last mile connectivity telecom needs of our country. The product has been proven on the field and also integrated with partner products for its upcoming commercialisation.

The Multi-beam E-band product, Giga Mesh, packs 6 Point-to-Point E-band radios in one, thereby distributing the cost of the device over multiple links and hence reduces capital expenditure. The radio provides long-range and multi-Gbps data throughput at each link.

Features like automatic link alignment, dynamic power allocation between links, and remote link formation help operators achieve significant operating expenditure cost reduction.

Astrome is currently conducting a field trial at Indian Institute of Science university campus. In this field trial, the company has already achieved data streaming at multi-Gbps speeds across the campus.

“Indian Institute of Science played a very critical role by helping us connect with investors, providing business mentorship, and giving us space to conduct our product field trials,” said Dr. Neha Satak, Co-founder & CEO at Astrome, while recalling a weeklong trip organized under the DST-ABI woman startup initiative which provided her with valuable inputs from the US Venture Capital ecosystem, to prepare for the launch in that market.

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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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