• Microsoft Malaysia is collaborating with Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to launch the “Highway to a 100 Unicorns” initiative. technology
  • Nearly half (49%) of internet users in the Philippines access streaming piracy websites or torrent sites, of which a significant proportion have subsequently cancelled TV subscriptions, according to a recent study.
  • Embracing digitalization has become more imperative than ever and workers in Vietnam and SMEs in Indonesia can now look to e-learning platforms to pick up digital skills.
  • India and Japan have together finalized a cybersecurity agreement that will promote cooperation in key areas, in what appears a clear attempt to distance from Chinese technology.
  • BIG Tech firms are snapping up office space in Singapore and These include a gaggle of Chinese tech giants seeing Singapore as a base to expand into Asean.
  • Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo believes that digitalization of the payment system was effective in expediting the development and role of MSMEs to encourage economic growth.


Microsoft Malaysia, MDEC and MaGIC launch ‘Highway to a 100 Unicorns’ initiative

Microsoft Malaysia in partnership with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) have launched the Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative.

This move is said to be part of a joint effort to strengthen the nation’s startup ecosystem and empower local startups with mentoring, technology, and access to enterprise clients. Eligible start-ups will gain access to focused workshops on business and technology, as well as monthly knowledge-sharing webinars with the global start-up community.

Microsoft Malaysia managing director K Raman said local start-ups can potentially become tomorrow’s unicorns, helping to shape the economic recovery and resilience, and build a stronger long-term future in Malaysia.

MDEC chief executive officer (CEO) Surina Shukri said Kuala Lumpur had been recognised as the 11th emerging start-up ecosystem in the world by Startup Genome, adding to confidence that Malaysia is primed to be the preferred “land and expand” base for the best innovators and tech start-ups regionally. Meanwhile, MaGIC CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar said this initiative presents an exciting opportunity for local innovators and founders to scale and move beyond borders through global collaborations, as well as industry-led mentorship and guidance.

Registration for Highway to a 100 Unicorns is now open until Oct 31, 2020. To be considered, start-ups will first have to submit an application for the Emerge X competition. The criteria for startups to apply for Emerge X is as follows; B2B companies with product-market fit and revenue-generating with at least 3-4 clients, B2C companies with a large customer base (upward of 100K customers) and are revenue-generating, they added that, having securing funding is a plus. All Emerge X startups will be awarded free GitHub and Azure credits and focused business and technology workshops, focused workshops on technology and business.

Nearly half of internet users in Philippines pirate content

Nearly half (49%) of internet users in the Philippines access streaming piracy websites or torrent sites, of which a significant proportion have subsequently cancelled TV subscriptions, according to a recent study. This is a concerning trend for both media owners who spend millions of dollars each year investing in content and their platforms, and Asia-Pacific advertisers who, by and large, intend to increase spend on OTT platforms by between 10-20% in the next year, according to a poll by WFA and SpotX.

The piracy study was commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association which found that the proportion of internet users who pirate content skews towards the younger demographic, with 53% of the 25-34 age demographic reporting that they pirate content. Meanwhile, nearly half (47%) of consumers who accessed piracy sites stated that they had cancelled their subscriptions to both local and international content services.

The study also found that the Philippines now has one of the highest piracy rates in Southeast Asia as neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia have both seen substantial reductions in online piracy over the last 12 months. In Indonesia, a similar YouGov survey found a significant 55% reduction in internet users accessing piracy services, from 63% in 2019 to 28% in 2020. In Malaysia, the rate of piracy declined by an even more marked 64%, from 61% in 2019 to 22% in 2020.

The declines in both countries correspond to tighter government regulations of piracy sites. For example, in Malaysia more than half (55%) of online consumers noticed that a piracy service had been blocked by the government. In the Philippines, there is an ‘Online Infringement Act’ bill currently before the Philippine Senate which proposes a regulatory site blocking mechanism that would empower the authorities to ensure that ISPs take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement”.

Neil Gane, the general manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) said Indonesia and Malaysia “will rise to become market leaders in video IP protection in the region” as a result of their site-blocking strategies, adding that the organisation was confident that other countries in Asia such as the Philippines will “take note and follow suit”.

SMEs in Vietnam, Indonesia embracing e-learning to train workers

With pandemic-related effects posing an ever-present threat, however, embracing digitalization has become more imperative than ever. While more matured territories might be further along in their digital adoption, countries like Indonesia and Vietnam have just recently announced that small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and workers affected by COVID-19 will embark on training via e-learning to improve their digital capabilities.

In Indonesia, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology revealed it’s working with the Indonesian E-commerce Association (IdEA) to kick off online classes for 2,500 SMEs, starting from this month until December 12. The classes covering a variety of digital skills including digital branding, soft skill development, and business financing will be offered to participating SMEs to help upgrade their skills. The minister added that about 9.4 million Indonesian smaller businesses have migrated operations online, which is not too far from the government’s target of having 10 million SMEs go digital by the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, a series of short training courses is being introduced in eight cities and provinces across the country, with the aim of helping at least 1,000 workers who have been impacted by the pandemic or its consequent effects like downsizing. A collaboration between the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Vietnam’s General Directorate of Vocational Training, and the local departments of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs, these courses will also run for two months until the end of the year.

Workers heavily affected by the pandemic such as tourism and hospitality can opt for these e-learning programs which will focus on reskilling participants in more sustainable industry fields, including mechanics, industrial electrics and electronics, plumbing, wastewater treatment, and automotive.

India, Japan finalise pact for cooperation in 5G, AI, critical information infrastructure

India and Japan have finalised an ambitious agreement that provides for cooperation in 5G technology, artificial intelligence and an array of other critical areas as the two strategic partners vowed to further broadbase their ties including in the Indo-Pacific region.

After a meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo on Wednesday, it was announced that Japan agreed to be the lead partner in the connectivity pillar of the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI). The IPOI is an India-backed framework aimed at making meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific, a region where China has been expanding its military assertiveness triggering global concerns.

“Recognising the increasing role being played by digital technologies, the two ministers highlighted the need for robust and resilient digital and cyber systems and in this context, welcomed the finalisation of the text of the cybersecurity agreement,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. “The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others,” it said. The cooperation on 5G development, in particular, comes after the reluctance from India and a growing number of other American allies to utilize 5G infrastructure and services from China’s telecommunications giant Huawei.

In their talks, Jaishankar and Motegi deliberated on a broad range of areas including maritime security, trade and investment, manufacturing, connectivity and infrastructure and reform of the United Nations, the MEA said. “They emphasised that a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region must be premised on diversified and resilient supply chains; and in this context, welcomed the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative between India, Japan, Australia and other like-minded countries,” the MEA said. Besides the 5G and emerging technologies pact, the two ministers deliberated on a broad range of areas including maritime security, trade and investment, manufacturing, connectivity and infrastructure, and reform of the United Nations, the statement clarified.


Big Technology is here, and it’s snapping up real estate in Singapore

BIG Tech firms are snapping up office space in Singapore, taking advantage of crimped rents amid the recession set off by the Covid-19 pandemic. These include a gaggle of Chinese tech giants seeing Singapore as a base to expand into Asean.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg said Tencent is expected to take up 10,000 square feet (sq ft), translating to about 200 seats at JustCo’s co-working space in OCBC Centre East at Raffles Place.

Meanwhile, TikTok owner ByteDance has reportedly agreed to lease three floors measuring over 60,000 sq ft at One Raffles Quay, in line with its plans to hire hundreds of staff in Singapore over the next few years.

Amazon is also expected to take over some of Citigroup’s office space in Singapore. Bloomberg reported that Amazon will lease three floors covering about 90,000 sq ft at Asia Square Tower 1. Cushman & Wakefield is projecting the take-up by tech firms to increase to between 400,000 sq ft and 500,000 sq ft in 2021.

Landlords here have been pressed to continue offering higher incentives. Rent-free periods for CBD Grade A offices have increased from 1.3 months to 1.5 months, Colliers said. It added that some 142,000 sq ft of co-working spaces are set to open in the next three months. WeWork will open an 82,000 sq ft branch at 30 Raffles Place, while JustCo will open a 60,000 sq ft branch at The Centrepoint.

The relatively stronger take-up of real estate by Big Tech in Singapore reflects a global trend of tech giants taking up more real estate in major cities.


Digital transformation of payments effectual in boosting MSMEs: BI

Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo believes that digitalization of the payment system was effective in expediting the development and role of micro-, small-, and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) to encourage economic growth.

“The government and the central bank emphasize that the development of MSMEs is not only about financial inclusion but also economic inclusion,” he stated in a virtual speech during the Governor Talk session at the 2020 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meeting here on Wednesday.

BI supports the development of MSMEs by launching the Blueprint for the Indonesian Payment System 2025in May 2019, the governor of Indonesia’s central bank, stated. The objective is integrating digital economy and finance, especially for micro and small businesses having no access to banking.

Warjiyo was optimistic that MSMEs would also be connected with online trading, financial technology (fintech), and payment system infrastructure. “We also support fintech, develop startups, and connect this fintech to open banking. We are building the Indonesian version of the QRIS global standard,” he revealed.

BI is also in the process of developing a 24-hour Fast Payment facility for seven days, with the planned launch in 2021, to facilitate the retail payment process. “We are highly enthusiastic about using digital payment systems to digitize the economy and finance and digitize MSMEs to support open banking and fintech startups. This will also support Indonesia’s future growth based on MSMEs,” he noted.



This bi-monthly technology news roundup is available via Newsletter. You can sign up right here to make sure you get the news delivered fresh to your inbox every week!