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NTUC Income Partners With ZhongAn For Digital Insurance Innovation

ICT - Singapore
April 2019

NTUC Income, a leading insurer in Singapore announced a partnership with ZA Tech Global Limited (ZA Tech), the business entity for overseas technological exports formed by China’s first internet-only insurer, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Limited (ZhongAn), to develop innovative digital insurance products for the Singapore market. The collaboration with ZATech is part of NTUC Income’s digital transformation strategy, launched in 2016, to drive greater innovation and speed to market. 

The “Digital Insurance Core System”, ZhongAn’s key technology asset,  is expected to help NTUC Income improve its agility and cost-efficiency to introduce more bespoke and modularised products. The first product to be introduced through the strategic partnership will be a lifestyle insurance product tailored to the tourism sector in Singapore. The product aims to protect both residents and tourists in Singapore against contingent events when they visit specific tourist attractions, and it will be launched by the second quarter of 2019. The new product will leverage ZhongAn’s cloud-based insurtech solution. Additionally, NTUC Income is exploring potential collaborations with digital ecosystem partners to create new customer experiences through value-added services to better serve customers.

In January 2019, ZhongAn partnered with Grab Holdings Inc. (“Grab”), South East Asia’s leading ride hailing platform, to establish a joint venture company to enter the digital insurance distribution business in South East Asia. The JV will create a digital insurance marketplace that offers innovative insurance products in a range of categories with fractionalized premiums, directly to users through the Grab mobile app. The JV will collaborate with global insurance partners to develop products that are tailored specifically to the region's lifestyle needs.

(Sources: NTUC Income; Singapore Business Review)
 
 

Singapore Plans To Roll Out 5G Networks By 2020

ICT - Singapore
March 2019

Singapore plans to commence the roll out of 5th generation mobile networks (5G) by 2020.  With 5G, businesses and citizens can experience peak data rates of up to 100 times faster than 4G - with up to 25 times lower latency and the ability to support up to 1000 times more devices per square kilometre.  5G is expected to fundamentally transform how businesses operate, in view of its capacity to handle many high-demand applications simultaneously such as the connectivity of autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, the deployment of IoT and nationwide sensor networks. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (MDA) will launch a public consultation to help develop the right regulatory framework and policies for 5G including the allocation of spectrum.

The announcement regarding 5G was made by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate on 4 March 2019. In his remarks, Minister Iswaran also revealed that the Singapore Government is going to allocate a further SGD 300 million (USD 220 million) for research in the Services and Digital Economy domain, almost doubling it from the current budget.  This increase is part of the next phase of the National Research Foundation’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan (RIE 2020) plan.

Minister Iswaran said that Digital Services Labs will be established to unlock value from R&D investments. This programme will work with technology providers, research and industry partners to co-develop cutting-edge technology to address business challenges.

The government is reviewing the Electronic Transactions Act to cater for new business models, new technologies and national projects. It is also reviewing our Personal Data Protection Act (or PDPA) so that it continues to safeguard consumer interests while enabling the innovative use of data.  

(Source: Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore)

Singapore Developing Cybersecurity Roadmap For Telecom Sector

ICT - Singapore
February 2019

A Telecom Cybersecurity Strategic Committee (TCSC), comprising international cybersecurity experts and representatives from the government and Singapore’s telecom operators are working on a roadmap for telecom sector cybersecurity, identifying cybersecurity threats to the telecom sector in the next five years and capabilities needed to counter these threats. The roadmap will identify areas for improvement in Singapore’s telecom cybersecurity capabilities, and recommend strategies, policies and initiatives with the objective of developing trusted, secure and resilient next-generation connectivity infrastructure, including 5G and narrowband Internet-of-Things (NB-IoT) sensor networks.. The first set of recommendations are expected to be published later this year. 

Government representatives on the TCSC include the heads of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Cyber Security Agency, and DSO (national defense research agency of Singapore), while the expert panel consists of a former head of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the CEOs of Team 8 from Israel and US-based IronNet Cybersecurity. 

This was announced at  the inaugural Infocomm Media Cybersecurity Conference. IMDA also announced two additional initiatives to fortify Singapore’s infocomm sector. 

The first is the launch of the electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) implementation guide which will provide guidance to the industry on the management of security concerns in their deployment of eKYC solutions. The eKYC guide aims to make it more convenient for consumers to register for mobile services online in a trusted manner by enabling operators to digitally verify mobile services registrations securely without physical face-to-face transactions. The second is the launch of a public consultation on a cybersecurity guide for Internet of Things (IoT) systems, which seeks to promote best industry practices in mitigating cybersecurity risks for organisations looking to deploy such systems. 

(Sources: Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore; Business Times)

Equinix To Open Fourth Data Center in Singapore

ICT - Singapore
January 2019

Equinix, Inc., the global interconnection and data center company, announced on January 7 that it  will build its fourth International Business Exchange (IBX) data center in Singapore, called SG4, with an investment of USD 85 million. Equinix's three existing IBX data centers in Singapore comprise more than 445,000 square feet (41,400 square meters) of colocation space. In Q3 2018, Equinix announced the completion of an expansion of the SG3 IBX data center in Singapore that nearly doubled the size of the facility. The first phase of SG4, located in one of the country's data center clusters - Tai Seng Industrial Estate- will provide more than 45,400 square feet (approximately 4,220 square meters) of colocation space, offering an initial capacity of 1,400 cabinets. The facility will accommodate more than 4,000 cabinets at full build out, with a total colocation space of more than 132,180 square feet (approximately 12,280 square meters). 

Directly connected to the three existing Equinix IBX data centers in Singapore via low-latency dark fiber links, the new SG4 IBX will enable customers to securely interconnect with approximately 600 companies from different industries, including financial services, cloud services, biomedical sciences, IT, communications, media, physical sciences and engineering. This also includes a broad range of network services from more than 200 global networks and more than 150 cloud and IT service providers.

SG4 will also provide software-defined interconnection to more than 1,300 businesses including some of the largest cloud service providers (CSP) such as Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud and Tencent Cloud. Customers can use the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric Fabric APIs or portal to find and connect to the aggregation of companies and ecosystems at Equinix on demand, locally or in other metro areas. This includes on-demand connectivity to ECX Fabric customers globally and in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia (Sydney, Melbourne and Perth), Hong Kong and Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). 

Singapore is the fourth largest overall market in APAC for data centers, behind Japan, China and India. Singapore holds the biggest capacity in the data center market regionally, with a total of 370 MW of IT power supply across more than 50 operators among co-location operators. The market is driven by international demand, which makes up 65-75% of total demand, as it is a hub for serving the South East Asia region.

(Sources: Straits Times; Equinix)

MAS And Singapore Exchange Leverage Blockchain To Simplify Post-Trade Processes

ICT - Singapore
November 2018

In the latest phase of Project Ubin, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) announced the successful development of Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities for the settlement of tokenised assets across different blockchain platforms. This will help simplify post-trade processes and further shorten settlement cycles. The DvP prototypes, developed with technology partners Anquan Capital, Deloitte and Nasdaq, demonstrated that financial institutions and corporate investors are able to carry out the simultaneous exchange and final settlement of tokenised digital currencies and securities assets on different blockchain platforms. The ability to perform these activities simultaneously improves operational efficiency and reduces settlement risks.

The collaboration also demonstrated that DvP settlement finality, interledger interoperability and investor protection can be achieved through specific solutions designed and built on blockchain technology. Following its conclusion, MAS and SGX have jointly published an industry report, which provides a comprehensive view of automating DvP settlement processes with Smart Contracts. The report also identifies key technology and operational considerations to ensure resilient operations, and defines a market framework that governs post-trade settlement processes such as arbitration. 

The first phase of Project Ubin, conducted over six weeks from 14 November 2016 to 23 December 2016, achieved the objectives of producing a digital representation of the Singapore Dollar (‘SGD-on-ledger’) for interbank settlement, testing methods of connecting bank systems to a DLT, and making the MAS Electronic Payment System (MEPS+) interoperate with DLT for automated collateral management. The completion of Phase 2 of Project Ubin, conducted together with 11 financial institutions and five technology companies, was announced in October 2017. In this second phase, three software models were developed, which are amongst the first in the world to implement decentralised netting (aggregating and offsetting the value of multiple positions or payments due to be exchanged between two or more parties) of payments in a manner that preserves transactional privacy. The source-codes and technical documentation of the three successful DLT based prototypes developed in Project Ubin Phase 2 were released for public access, so that central banks, financial institutions, as well as academic and research institutions could tap on the open source-codes to facilitate their experiments, research and innovation.

There are three more planned phases for the project:

  • Phase 4: Payment versus Payment for cross-border settlement In this future phase, the objective is to assess the feasibility of cross-border DvP
  • Phase 5: Target operating model In this future phase, the objective is to evaluate the impact of DLT on existing regulatory framework and market processes
  • Phase 6: Cross-border DvP and Payment versus Payment In this future phase, the objective is to apply the learnings garnered to execute cross-border settlement of both payments and securities.

(Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

Singapore Seeking To Translate Quantum Technologies Into Real World Applications

ICT - Singapore
October 2018

In September 2018, the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) launched a SGD 25 million  (USD 18 million) Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) to translate quantum science and technologies into engineering devices and capabilities that meet industry needs. QEP will connect researchers in quantum science, photonics devices, and system engineering, with industry partners and local start-ups, with the aim of developing the engineering capabilities needed to commercialise quantum technologies into quantum communication systems, quantum sensors and devices, with applications in areas such as cybersecurity, global navigation systems, sensing technologies, and diagnostic imaging. For instance, quantum enhanced imaging technologies are, in principle, much more effective than existing classical techniques and their use would include fluorescence and phase microscopy, space telescope imaging, magnetic and gravitational sensing, and thermal imaging.

QEP will focus on building engineering capabilities in three research themes:

  1. Quantum cryptography:  While quantum computers when implemented could easily break today’s most prevalent cryptosystems in minutes, quantum cryptography can prevent this scenario. QEP will therefore focus on developing viable and portable quantum crypto-systems that are widely deployable in practice. For instance, quantum crypto-systems developed in the programme could be used to encrypt and protect secret documents, and provide quantum-certifiable random numbers for biometrics, computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and information security.
  2. Quantum networks: Today, most countries depend on Global Positioning System (GPS) and global navigation satellite systems to derive precise timing information. However, these time sources are vulnerable and prone to active disruption efforts. Quantum clocks, if made portable, can provide a robust ground-based source of timing information with key applications in telecommunication, banking, space communication, and radar technology. 
  3. Quantum devices: QEP will seek to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in engineering integrated quantum devices, generate quantum technology patents, and support local start-ups specialising in quantum technologies.

SG-UK Collaboration to develop quantum-secured communications networks

A few days after the announcement of the QEP, the Singapore and UK governments entered into a SGD 18 milllion (USD 13 million) initiative to build and deploy a satellite quantum key distribution (QKD) test bed. Singapore and UK will co-develop a “QKD Qubesat”, a satellite based on the CubeSat standard that will use a pioneering QKD technology from Singapore to test the secure distribution of cryptographic keys over globe-spanning distances. The satellite is expected to be operational in late 2021. This new joint quantum technology satellite mission could potentially open access to a global market estimated to be worth up to SGD 20 billion (USD 14.5 billion) over the next decade. 

(Sources: National Research Foundation; Channel NewsAsia; Today)

Starhub And Temasek Launch One Of Asia’s Largest Cyber Security Companies

ICT - Singapore
September 2018

On 5 September 2018, Singaporean telco, StarHub Ltd. entered into an agreement with Leone Investments Pte. Ltd., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited, to form a new cybersecurity company called Ensign InfoSecurity Pte. Ltd.  (Ensign). Ensign has been created through the merger of StarHub’s Cyber Security Centre of Excellence, its subsidiary Accel Systems & Technologies Pte. Ltd. (ASTL) and Temasek-owned Quann, to form one of the largest cyber security companies in Asia. In addition to transferring 100% of ASTL, and its other cyber security assets, StarHub will pay SGD 36 million in cash, funded using internal cash resources, for its stake in the joint venture company. This amount will be funded using internal cash resources. The transaction is expected to close by October 2018, subject to the fulfilment of mutually-agreed conditions.

ASTL is a cyber security systems integrator specialising in the provision of security solutions, consulting and managed security services, while  StarHub Cyber Security Centre of Excellence was established two years ago to develop advanced cyber security solutions, and attract talented professionals and expert knowledge from other companies including ASTL, to such an ecosystem. Quann is a leading regional cyber security services provider with an extensive Asian footprint. The new entity, Ensign, aims to position itself as  the only Singapore-based pure play cyber security company with end-to-end capabilities comprising Professional Services, Systems Integration and Managed Security Services for government as well as enterprise clients. In addition, its unique telco-centric and network-based security monitoring capabilities are expected to provide enhanced security for enterprises and critical infrastructure.

Ensign will have approximately 500 analysts, consultants and researchers based out of Ensign’s corporate headquarters in Singapore, where enhanced Security Operations Centres are also located. Ensign will initially support Government and Enterprise customers and generate revenues in excess of SGD 100 million (USD 73 million) annually.

(Sources: Starhub; Straits Times)

 

Public Healthcare System In Singapore Suffers Data Breach

ICT - Singapore
August 2018

The Singapore Government revealed on 20 July that SingHealth’s database containing patient personal particulars and outpatient dispensed medicines had been targeted in a major cyberattack. SingHealth is Singapore's largest group of healthcare institutions, consisting of four public hospitals across the island, five national specialty centres and a network of nine polyclinics.  

The non-medical personal details of around 1.5 million patients who visited SingHealth’s specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics from 1 May 2015 to 4 July 2018, including name, NRIC number, address, gender, race and date of birth, were illegally accessed and copied. In addition, information on the outpatient dispensed medicines of about 160,000 of these patients was exfiltrated. The records were not amended or deleted. No other patient records, such as diagnosis, test results or doctors’ notes, were breached. 

Investigations by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) found that this was a deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyberattack. The attackers specifically and repeatedly targeted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s personal particulars and information on his outpatient dispensed medicines.The attackers accessed the SingHealth IT system through an initial breach on a particular front-end workstation. They subsequently managed to obtain privileged account credentials to gain privileged access to the database.  It was established that data was exfiltrated from 27 June 2018 to 4 July 2018. Upon discovery on 4 July, the breach was immediately contained. 

A number of measures wrere imposed to tighten the security of SingHealth’s IT systems, including temporarily imposing internet surfing separation, and additional controls on workstations and servers, reset user and systems accounts, and installed additional system monitoring controls. Similar measures were put in place for IT systems across the public healthcare sector. The Ministry of Health directed IHiS to conduct a thorough review of the public healthcare system, with support from third-party experts, to improve cyber threat prevention, detection and response. Areas of review include cybersecurity policies, threat management processes, IT system controls and organisational and staff capabilities. 

CSA also instructed the 11 Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) sectors identified in the Cybersecurity Bill passed earlier this year to raise their respective level of network security through measures such as removing all connections to unsecured external networks and mediating any connections kept open for strong business or operational reasons through uni-directional gateways (e.g. data diodes). If two-way communication between the secured network and unsecured external network is required, a secured informational gateway has to be implemented. The Government, one of the 11 CII sectors, has implemented significant measures during the last 3 years, such as Internet Surfing Separation, to comply with these cybersecurity guidelines.

(Sources: SingHealth, Cyber Security Agency of Singapore; Straits Times; Channel NewsAsia)

Chinese AI Unicorn Signs MOUs With Three Singapore Organizations

ICT - Singapore
July 2018

On 29 June 2018, SenseTime Group Limited, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company from China, signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with three leading Singaporean organizations: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU), National Supercomputing Centre of Singapore (NSCC), and Singtel. The parties aim to collaborate and leverage the strengths and customer base of each other, to advance AI research, accelerate digitalization for both established corporates and SMEs, and develop AI-based solutions catering to industrial and institutional needs, both in Singapore and Asia. 

Professor Lam Khin Yong, Vice President (Research), NTU, said that the partnership with SenseTime to set up a joint research centre is very timely as NTU seeks to become a Smart Campus, described as a living testbed for the technologies of tomorrow, in line with Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation. NSCC  which manages Singapore’s first national petascale facility with high performance computing (HPC) resources to support science and engineering computing needs for academic, research and industry communities, aims to set up a GPU-accelerated, AI-centric, supercomputing infrastructure and platform through this partnership, while Singapore's largest telco, Singtel, will collaborate with SenseTime to grow its AI capabilities and drive the adoption of AI technology across Asia, in areas ranging from retail technology solutions to smart city projects. Singtel's corporate venture arm Singtel Innov8 recently invested in SenseTime. 

With a total financing of more than USD 1.6 billion and a valuation of over USD 4.5 billion, SenseTime is the world's largest and most valuable AI unicorn. Recently, SenseTime raised USD 600 milllion in its Series C round led by Alibaba in April 2018 and a further USD 620 million in Series C+ funding in May 2018. 

SenseTime works with over 400 partners, across security, fintech, automobile, retail, smartphone, mobile Internet and robotics. These include the city of Shanghai, China Mobile, Wanda Group, Meitu, graphics processor maker Nvidia, China UnionPay, JD Finance, Sina Weibo, China Merchants Bank, and mainland smartphone giants Huawei Technologies, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi. Just during the past 2-3 months, SenseTime signed an agreement with Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, the largest subway operator in China, to deploy AI solutions for metro traffic monitoring. SenseTime also signed a strategic agreement with the city of Chengdu to establish a regional headquarters to expand and develop the western China market. Moreover, the company recently joined hands with Alibaba and Hong Kong Science & Technology Park to establish The HK AI Laboratory to help Hong Kong transform into an international center of science and innovation. SenseTime and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) jointly formed an AI Alliance to advance AI academic research and nurture innovation breakthroughs. SenseTime also created the world's first AI textbook for secondary schools, which will be deployed in more than 40 domestic high schools across China, among them Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University affiliated high schools. 

Meanwhile, the Singapore government has made AI a priority for its Smart Nation Plans. Last year, the government  launched a national programme, called AI Singapore to deepen Singapore’s AI capabilities, driven by a government-wide partnership, four universities and industry partners. In June 2018, Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) engaged key stakeholders including government, industry, consumers and academia to collaboratively shape and inform IMDA’s ongoing plans to support Singapore as a hub for AI development and innovation, and help Singapore to effectively respond to global developments. This will be done through three new structured, interlinked initiatives: 1) An Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data; 2) A discussion paper released by PDPC on responsible development and adoption of AI, which will be used by the Council to frame its deliberations; and 3) A Research Programme on the Governance of AI and Data Use to advance and inform scholarly research on AI governance issues.

(Sources: SenseTime; Channel NewsAsia; Infocomm Media Development Authority)

Singapore Adopts European E-invoicing Standard

ICT - Singapore
June 2018

Singapore is going to implement the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) e-invoicing standard. Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and OpenPEPPOL have signed a letter of appointment to formalise IMDA as a the National PEPPOL Authority in Singapore, making IMDA the first National PEPPOL authority outside of Europe, and the first National Authority in Asia, to adopt the standard.

The PEPPOL standard was conceived in the European Union in 2008. It is maintained by OpenPEPPOL, a non-profit international association established in 2012. It has 277 members from 31 countries, with 176 Access Points (AP) in 19 European countries, Canada and the US, that serve to connect over 120,000 entities. PEPPOL conducted over 60 million e-invoices in 2017. There are ten other PEPPOL Authorities in Europe, run by their respective public sectors. They are: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK.

Under the PEPPOL standard, companies wishing to adopt e-invoicing have to subscribe to an AP Provider of their choice. APs are the nodes which users route their documents through. Companies then send their e-invoices to their AP Provider, which checks and verifies the receiving company’s PEPPOL address through the service metadata publishers (SMP), which act as the localized address books for PEPPOL’s network. OpenPEPPOL maintains a master list of SMPs. The AP Provider then sends the document to the relevant receiving AP Provider, and then onward to the receiving party.

IMDA will set national rules and specifications that meet Singapore’s domestic requirements, and ensure conformance to the PEPPOL technical and service standards. It will also appoint and certify SMPs and Access Point (AP) providers. service metadata publishers a

IMDA will continue to work with relevant government agencies, trade associations and chambers such as Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation, to implement the e-invoicing standard, and collectively drive adoption of a common framework for businesses.

The Accountant General’s Department (AGD) will work with IMDA to integrate [email protected] into the nationwide e-invoicing framework. AGD and IMDA will also explore how government procurement processes in conjunction with PEPPOL standards can be used to drive industry adoption of other common business messages.

The National Trade Platform will similarly support the nationwide e-invoicing framework as one of the key international standards for trade documents accepted on the platform, alongside other e-invoicing standards.

Other agencies who will explore connecting their systems and processes include the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). IMDA has received interest from 45 government agencies, large private sector entities, associations and technology solutions providers to date. IMDA will also leverage its SMEs Go Digital programme to encourage pre-approved solution providers which offer e-invoicing services to adopt the standard.

In the coming months, IMDA will put in place the e-invoicing framework for technology solution providers to join the network and bring on board their corporate customers.

Mr André Hoddevik, Secretary General of OpenPEPPOL said that OpenPEPPOL is experiencing a strong interest in the use of PEPPOL to support e-invoicing in the American market, both in North America and Latin America, as well as in Australia. They hope to take Singapore as a reference to on-board more countries.

(Sources: Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, Channel NewsAsia)

New Collaboration To accelerate AI Adoption In Singapore's Financial Sector

ICT - Singapore
May 2018

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced its collaboration with the Economic Development Board (EDB), Inforcomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) to accelerate the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Singapore’s financial sector. The collaboration aims to foster a thriving AI ecosystem comprising financial institutions, research institutions and AI solution providers.

The four agencies will jointly facilitate research and development of new AI technologies and adoption of AI-enabled products, services and processes for the financial sector. The joint effort will encompass three key prongs: developing AI products, matching users and solution providers, and strengthening AI capabilities.

Developing AI Products for Finance: MAS’s S$ 27 million Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant, announced at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2017, has garnered strong interest from the industry. There are currently several pipeline projects in areas such as deep learning and natural language processing, and three applied research Requests-for-Proposals in AI-related themes. EDB will augment the AIDA programme by providing support for AI solution providers locally and globally to create new AI products and services for Singapore’s financial sector. The MAS-EDB partnership will encourage leading AI solution providers to conduct both upstream research and product development activities for the financial sector.

Matching Users and Solution Providers: MAS will work with EDB and IMDA to facilitate link-ups between players in the financial and technology sectors. IMDA’s AI Business Partnership Programme will be extended to provided tailored support for the financial sector’s AI adoption needs by providing a guided process to pair local companies seeking AI solutions with credible AI solutions providers.

Strengthening AI Capabilities in Finances: MAS will also work with IBF and IMDA to strengthen AI capabilities and skillsets in the financial sector. This will help financial industry professionals transit into new jobs arising from the use of AI in financial services. Through its TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme, IMDA provides AI apprenticeship opportunities and is also working with MAS to help align university curriculum to the needs of key hirers in the financial sector in the area of data science and AI.

(Sources: Monitory Authority of Singapore; Business Times)

mobilityX To Offer Integrated "Mobility-As-A-Service" In Singapore

ICT - Singapore
April 2018

Singapore's national rail operator SMRT is seed funding mobilityX, a start-up established to integrate a range of transportation options for commuters in Singapore, and which aims to enhance the way people commute in urban areas quickly and safely through strategic partnerships. Travel options range from e-scooters that can be used by individuals to zip around town, to driverless electric-driven pods that move larger numbers of commuters that connects people to MRT and bus networks.

mobilityX was incorporated in February 2018 to provide integrated “mobility-as-a-service” (MaaS) solutions to commuters and companies. It is fast tracking its efforts to enhance urban mobility through strategic marketing, payment services and data analytics, and strengthen its capability to serve as a transportation solutions planner.

In partnership with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Jurong Town Council, mobilityX has been test-bedding its MaaS solution in the NTU campus and government body JTC’s Clean Tech Park since August 2017. mobilityX has also launched MaaS projects in a large mixed-use development and a hospital.

mobilityX has also collaborated with key players in the mobility industry to provide mobility services and solutions, including Airbike, Continental, Deloitte, Floatility, Mobike , Neuron Mobility, Obike, SWAT mobile, Telepod and 2getthere Asia, to offer commuters various urban mobility options through an integrated platform. mobilityX has inked a deal with Chinese bike-share company Mobike in April 2018 to share data insights from its own platform and Mobike’s fleet of “smart” two-wheelers. The two parties announced that the move is to enable smarter transport planning and optimised operational efficiency. Under the agreement, Mobike’s bicycle offerings will be loaded onto the mobility app that is being tested at NTU and JTC’s CleanTech Park. 

(Sources: SMRT; Business Times)

Digital Services To Be Taxed From 2020

ICT - Singapore
March 2018

The Ministry of Finance announced in February 2018 that a goods and services tax (GST) will be imposed on imported digital services, including movie and music streaming services and mobile applications. The new tax on imported services will be imposed by 1 January 2020, and will apply to imported business-to-business services such as marketing, accounting and management services as well as business-to-consumer, such as video streaming and online subscription fees.

This move will make Singapore the first country in South East Asia to introduce a tax on the digital economy, following jurisdictions, such as Australia, the European Union, Japan, and Korea. The move is one of the first steps that the Government is taking to look at ways for taxes to be implemented on the digital economy. According to experts, firms that are affected by the GST are likely to pass on the hikes to customers.

The surging growth of the e-commerce market no doubt plays a factor in the tax. Singapore’s e-commerce market is expected to hit over SGD 7 billion (USD 5.28 billion) by 2025, with 55% of the market consisting of cross-border transactions. The proposed e-commerce tax allows Singapore to broaden the scope of GST and provide a new sustainable revenue pipeline for the government.

Based on the new framework, businesses selling imported services to consumers in Singapore will be required to register with the taxman and collect GST on behalf of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. However, this will apply only to overseas vendors with an annual global turnover exceeding SGD 1 million (USD 758,901), with the sales of digital services to consumers in Singapore surpassing SGD 100,000 (USD 75890.1). The latter requirement minimises the compliance burden on overseas vendors which do not make significant sales to Singapore consumers.

Otherwise known as the “Netflix” tax, global entertainment companies are sure to get caught up in Singapore’s new tax implementation. Netflix, which raked in USD 3.3 billion in revenue in the last three months of 2017 alone, has not yet revealed numbers on subscriber base in Singapore. It is uncertain as to whether other global firms such as Uber could potentially fall into the category. The new tax will not affect online sale of goods. 

(Sources: Today Online; TechWire Asia; The New Paper)

Linde Launches Digitalisation Hub In Singapore

ICT - Singapore
February 2018

In partnership with Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), German industrial gases group Linde has launched in February 2018 its Asia Pacific Digitalisation Hub, a strategic initiative to rapidly identify, develop and trial emergent digital technologies for industrial applications in the region and beyond. Linde and EDB plan to invest over SGD 30 million (USD 22.7 million) in the hub, which the German group said is designed to expand its digital capabilities and further extend its lead in the digital transformation of the gases and engineering industries, thus improving safety and process efficiency.

At the Asian hub, the Singapore corporate digitalisation teams will work alongside engineers and business line managers on projects and technology trials throughout the region. Though the hub will be decentralised to better take advantage of the diversity and opportunities in the region, Singapore will serve as a nexus.

Globally, Linde has already implemented numerous digital innovations, including augmented reality (AR) tools to help customers visualise application technology deployments, along with virtual reality (VR) simulators for training and remote support. In Asia Pacific, Linde has already established Remote Operations Centres in Shanghai, China, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, combining artificial intelligence (AI) with big data from extensive sensor networks to remotely operate more than 200 plants across 14 different countries, thereby optimising production and energy usage.

(Sources: CHEManager International)

NTU & M1 Partnership Concludes Trials On 4.5G HetNet For Drone Operations

ICT - Singapore
January 2018

The joint team from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU) and M1 Limited (M1) have concluded successful trials for using M1’s 4.5G Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) to provide command, control and communication capabilities required for safe and efficient drone operations. The trials were conducted in December 2017 using a purpose-built drone, assembled by the Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI). Using M1’s 4.5 HetNet, the drone was flown around M1’s premises at International Business Park as well as two fields in Wah Shih Road and Old Holland Road.

Unlike the unlicensed spectrum, such as 2.4GHz band, used by conventional drone operations, 4.5G HetNet is not susceptible to radio signal interference, and provides secured, low latency and high throughout mobile connectivity, enabling drones to fly beyond visual range in an urban environment, and even send real-time data feeds during the flight, with precise aerial locations monitored over 4.5G HetNet. Successful trials now pave the way for a dynamic and robust fleet management solutions required for smart utilization of Singapore’s urban airspace and its surrounding sea-to-shore coverage. The technology has the potential to expand and extend the capabilities of drones to enable new applications, such as using drones to perform search & rescue operations at remote sites, aerial infrastructure surveillance, delivery of parcels, and others.  

To able further research, M1 and NTU expects to map out the signal strengths and latency of HetNet in the entire Singapore urban airspace using drones. Additionally, M1 and ATMRI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2018 to research and develop further the 4.5G HetNet for the traffic management of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in Singapore’s urban environment. The joint project is expected to last 3 years.

(Sources: Asia Today; Nanyang Technological University; Science Magazine)

The Launch of Singapore's Infocomm Media Industry Transformation Map

ICT - Singapore
December 2017

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has released the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) which outlines the steps to prepare Singapore for the digital economy. The aims of ITM is to increase the Infocomm Media industry’s value added by about 6% per year which is almost twice as fast as the overall economy, create jobs for 210,000 workers as well as create more than 13,000 (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) jobs by 2020.

The Infocomm Media ITM will also prepare Singapore for the digital economy via three such thrusts, namely:

  • To invest and build capabilities in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, Immersive Media and Internet of Things (IoT)  

  • To strengthen the core of the Infocomm Media sector and prepare manpower with appropriate skills for a variety of Infocomm Media job roles and business opportunities

  • To guide companies and workforce from different sectors to improve productivity and efficiency by adopting digital technology

(Sources: IMDA; The Straits Times; Open Gov)

Singapore A Smart Financial Center

ICT - Singapore
November 2017

Singapore has seen a slew of initiatives in the Fintech sector, in conjunction with the week-long second Singapore Fintech Festival. In particular, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced an R&D tie-up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. This collaboration will also help to strengthen Singapore’s talent pool in the FinTech industry, by providing Singapore-based industry professionals and researchers with opportunities to work alongside MIT researchers. Financial institutions and FinTech players will be able to participate in pilots and experiments in a wide range of financial-services projects.

Other initiatives include the development of a cross-border platform for trade finance using blockchain technology, the creation a new fintech innovation hub in Singapore named 80RR, the signing of FinTech cooperation agreements with various governments and authorities around the world. The initiatives and deals signed reflect a plan that involves building an ecosystem of diverse players competing and collaborating, and a web of international links to promote the exchange of ideas and scale up solutions. It also involves creating a strong talent pool and deep research capabilities.

Singapore is keen to be the place where financial institutions test, develop, and apply new technology solutions. It is already attracting fintech players - there are now more than 30 fintech innovation labs or research centres in Singapore, while more than 400 fintech enterprises have set up base in the country.

(Sources: Monetary Authority of Singapore; The Straits Times)

SGD 16 Million (USD 11.8 million) Investment to Singapore’s Cybersecurity

ICT - Singapore
October 2017

More than SGD 16 million (USD 11.8 million) will be invested into new cybersecurity projects aimed at strengthening Singapore’s cybersecurity research and development (R&D) capabilities and developing cyber tools and technologies that can be readily adapted for public and industry use. An amount of SGD 15.6 million (USD 11.5 million) will be allocated to nine research projects under the National Cybersecurity Research & Development grant programme to develop the research and development capabilities and build tools to meet the security requirements for the public and industry use. Another SGD 0.6 million (USD 0.4 million) will be allocated to six projects under the seed grant by the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium. The latter project was launched in September 2016 and funded by the NRF to promote research and training in cybersecurity.

(Sources: National Research Foundation, Singapore)

Acceleration Of Fintech In Singapore

ICT - Singapore
September 2017

Following a National Day speech where the Prime Minister encouraged Singaporeans to adopt payment through electronic channels, and banks to "simplify and integrate" their offerings, a slew of new fintech measures have been announced in Singapore. A newly formed payments council has been set up to look into ways to advance e-payments in Singapore, as part of the country's Smart Nation push, and to help it catch up with other markets that have already gone cashless. Some of the initiatives launched in Singapore include:

  • A new instant mobile payment scheme, called PayNow, where users need not enter bank account numbers to initiate a transfer on their mobile phone to any bank user. By year end, a QR code function will also be added to PayNow to allow merchants to accept payments without having to ask customers for their mobile or NRIC number. Customers just need to scan the merchant's QR code to make payments.
  • Customers at Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre are now able to pay for their meals using QR code, in an initiative launched by electronic payments company NETS, Singapore's most established cashless payment scheme with 99,000 acceptance points.
  • NETS is also rolling out a unified point-of-sale terminal that also processes credit card and contactless mobile wallet payments to reduce the clutter of terminals at check-out counters.
  • A mobile app that will be available for download from October 2017 that will replace the use of paper coupons at about 1,150 carparks, including kerbside parking spaces.

(Sources: Today Online; Bank IT Asia)

Singapore Telecoms To Roll Out IoT Network

ICT - Singapore
August 2017

Singtel has announced that it will roll out its nationwide cellular IoT network by end-September that will enable enterprises to gain operational and cost efficiencies through the use of low-power IoT devices. The network will support CAT-M1 and NB-IoT technologies which will allow businesses to benefit from applications with low-power consumption, deep coverage and multiple connections. Singtel will also harness its cyber security expertise to support businesses in implementing secure and reliable IoT solutions. This will greatly alleviate security concerns, which is a key deterrent for businesses in deciding whether to deploy remote sensors and IoT devices to their ecosystems, according to the IDC.

Cellular IoT network can support devices with battery life of up to 10 years or more, as it leverages both low-band and mid-band frequencies. A distinguishing feature of Singtel’s cellular IoT over CAT-M1 network is that it enables businesses to make VoLTE calls in future using small portable devices with long battery life, such as wearables and trackers with voice capability.  

Since 2016, Singtel has been exploring IoT usage with local companies and large corporations across a diverse range of applications, including environmental sensing, asset tracking, waste management and monitoring of medicine consumption. The roll out of the nationwide cellular IoT network will accelerate businesses’ adoption of such innovative technologies, and help them create exciting new products and services for consumers.

In tandem with the deployment, Singtel will be inviting businesses and technology partners to try out and develop IoT solutions at the IoT Innovation Lab. Set up in collaboration with Ericsson, the Iab allows businesses to experience new IoT applications first-hand and develop business models.

Apart from Singtel, M1 and Starhub will also be launching its NB-IoT networks. Another telco company, UnaBiz, has rolled out its SigFox IoT network earlier in the year.

Telecoms consulting firm Analysys Mason has forecasted that Singapore’s IoT revenue will reach a collective SGD 714 million (USD 522 million) in 2025, wherein hardware and installation would account for SGD 270 million (USD 198 million), connectivity SGD 95 million (USD 256 million) and SGD 349 million (USD 255 million).

(Sources: Singtel; Analysys Mason)

Ransomware-infected SMEs On The Rise

ICT - Singapore
August 2017

Singaporean enterprises being affected by the malware Ransomware has been drastically rising, with at least one-third of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) being affected by it, according to a report released by Malwarebytes, a leading anti-malware protection provider, which has just established its regional headquarters in Singapore.

The report also added that about 21% of the SMEs has been infected with the ransomware unwittingly, and such infection has caused some businesses to cease their operations to prevent worsening the situation.

The attack of ransomware can cripple business operations, as the hacking and system downtime lasts for an average of 9 hours. Apart from this, hackers demand ransom amounting from SGD 5,000 (USD 3,672) and up in exchange for data return. Around 75% of businesses decide to pay up the hackers to get their data back, but 33% of the companies who refused to pay end up losing their data.

At present, Ransomware and email malware infiltration are the top cybersecurity threats in Singapore. The Malwarebytes report “Second Annual State of Ransomware Report” comes after two other ransomware attacks were reported to affect enterprises globally within the year.

(Source: Malwarebytes, The Business Times, The New Paper, Network Asia)

New Laws For Singapore Cyber Security

ICT - Singapore
July 2017

Singapore has a better overall cybersecurity approach than the US and other wealthy countries, according to a UN Survey released this month. The survey by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rated Singapore as top in the world based on its legal, technical and organisational institutions, educational and research capabilities and cooperation in information-sharing networks.

New laws have been proposed to strengthen the country’s defences against the increasing cyber-attacks. The draft bill was released on July 10 for public consultation and ends on August 3. The bill proposes the followings:

  • There will be 11 sectors  which have to comply with the proposed bill  includes government, security and emergency, healthcare, telecommunications, banking and finance, water and media sectors
  • Singapore’s critical information infrastructure (CII) owners will need to report any cyber security breaches and attacks and to carry out audits and risks assessments
  • CII owners will be liable if they fail to comply with any of the duties
  • Companies will need to share information when ordered by the authorities when the latter is investigating the cyber security threat or attach
  • All cyber service providers and practitioners have to be licensed

(Source: Today, The Straits Times)

Singapore Tops In The Global Innovation Index For Asia Pacific Region

ICT - Singapore
June 2017

Singapore has been ranked sixth in the world - and top in the Asia-Pacific region - on the annual Global Innovation Index. The country's ranking - one up from last year - placed it ahead of countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea and Japan. The improved ranking was driven not just by its performance but also tweaks to survey methodology, such as the addition of new indicators.

Singapore did well on indicators gauging a country's political and regulatory environment, education system and infrastructure, among others.

The top five most innovation countries are Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. Switzerland continues to dominate the first spot rank for the seventh consecutive year.

(Sources: The Straits Times, Open Gov Asia)

Singapore Gov’t To Call S$2.4b Of ICT Tenders In Current Fiscal Year

ICT - Singapore
May 2017

The Singapore government will be calling for a projected SGD 2.4 billion (USD 1.7 billion) of information and communication technology (ICT) tenders in fiscal 2017 in order to support the momentum of the country's digitalization efforts. In line with this, the government will invest in technologies such as data analytics, sensors and related software and systems. The investment would include a tender for data analytics and another for communications infrastructure to link data centres with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.

The government will also partner the industry to increase the use of robotics.Temasek Polytechnic will be looking for an industry partner to build an inventory robot which will utilise radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to scan the print collection and navigate its library. This will help the library to carry out more and faster inventory stocktaking to boost productivity and efficiency, as well as provide early detection of missing or wrongly shelved books.

(Sources: The Business Times, Channel NewsAsia)

DeClout Incubator Launched To Support Singapore Fintech Startups

ICT - Singapore
April 2017

DeClout has launched a new incubator program designed to help local Fintech startups. The program has been launched via its wholly-owned subsidiary DeClout Investments Pte Ltd under its incubation program DeClout will mentor early-stage startups and help them in product development, proof-of-concept, commercialization and future fundraising.

DeClout will be supported under SPRING Singapore’s Startup SG Accelerator1 scheme. As part of Startup SG, DeClout will be another important node in the Singapore startup ecosystem that marks Singapore as a destination for developing innovative ideas and scaling up startups. This builds on the momentum from the SGD 10 million (USD 7.2 million) venture capital fund committed by NRF in May 2016 to co-invest with DeClout in ICT startups in Singapore. The support received exemplifies the Group’s unique position as a next-generation business accelerator in Singapore.

(Sources: Crowd Fund Insider, The Straits Times)

 

Singapore Organizations Move Further Into Cloud

ICT - Singapore
April 2017

According to SolarWinds' IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization, more Singaporean companies have diverted into the cloud, with 90% having migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure over the past year. The report shows that 45% of Singapore organizations have established most or all expected cloud benefits though 37% of the migrated areas to the cloud were eventually brought back into premises due to security and compliance issues and poor performance. This movement has affected the IT professional’s job requirements recently.

6 out of 10 IT professionals’ claims that they need to obtain latest skills due to cloud and hybrid IT adoptions. IT professionals related to top cloud related skills are for vendor management  42%, as well as hybrid monitoring and management tools and metrics 35 % and some respondents of 11 % claimed that cloud have changed their career path too. In line with that, 58% of organizations have already hired and reassigned IT professionals and plan to do so for the specific purpose of managing cloud technologies.

(Sources: Computerworld Singapore, Digital News Asia)

Yahoo Singapore Launches Content Marketing Solution

ICT - Singapore
March 2017

Yahoo Singapore has launched a content marketing solutions it says is designed for brands and agencies to leverage Yahoo Gemini, its self-serve native and search product. Called Yahoo Storytellers, the service is designed to let marketers develop, distribute and measure premium branded content that meets consumers’ high expectations and drives engagement.

Yahoo Storytellers will assist brands to create winning content marketing strategies which the service are inclusive of content consulting services, development of premium video, a full range of editorial content and influencer activations across social platforms. Yahoo has partnered with 170 brands to develop successful campaigns in the past. Brands will be able to connect with highly engaged customers and drive considerable results for their campaigns with Yahoo Storytellers.

(Sources: Digital Market Asia, Enterprise Innovation)

Robust ICT Market to Drive Singapore's Fintech Sector Growth This Year

ICT - Singapore
February 2017

The financial technology sector of Singapore is expected to grow this year, drive by its highly established ICT market and encouraging regulatory landscape. According to a research report, Singapore owned the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications markets shows in 2016 there are 8.4 million subscribers for 3G/4G and 4.3 million subscribers for broadband internet and its rapidly growing.

An advanced telecom network and pro-investor policy in Singapore has developed vibrant destination for investments in research and development and services. The latest Q1 2017 of Asia Pacific Risk and Reward Index, illustrate that Singapore ranked second in the region, as the country’s wealth facilitates uptake of premium services, from which operators benefit from high average revenues per user (ARPUs), and its Smart Nation vision drives it towards mass market fintech, and  Internet of Things (IoT) adoption.

Fintech establishment in Singapore benefits higher education, minimum tax rates, and efficient procedures to establish their business, the availability of government and private grants with tax incentives. There were around 210 fintech firms has been in operation from the year 2015-2016, and Singaporean banks (DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB) have introduced mobile banking applications for Smartphone’s and Apple watches in March 2016, due to the growing number of users. DBS analysis shows that more than 60% of its 500,000 daily logins are made via mobile.

(Sources: Singapore Business Reviews, Asean Today)

Singapore To Build Deep Capabilities In Data Analytics And Cyber Security

ICT - Singapore
February 2017

Singapore is focusing on improving its knowledge in data analytics and cyber security as part of efforts to construct stronger digital capabilities in its economy. The government-led Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) announces that it is preparing Singapore to cater with an uncertain global economy and rapid technological change.

CFE mentions that the data analytics and cyber security are highly potential growth industries and it’s capable to support digitization in other industries. CFE is looking forward for the government support on developing the digital capabilities such as applied data analytics by setting up joint laboratories with industry players, such partnerships can encourage innovation and help prepare data scientists.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore has been collaborating with industry players such as SingTel, Nanyang Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Technology to develop talents for Singapore’s cyber security industry besides that the Infocomm Media Development Authority has been conducting training initiatives to develop a talents for data analytics, these include online courses on data science and analytics and company-led training programers.

(Sources: The Business Times, Baker McKenzie, Computer Weekly)

Alibaba Cloud Collaborates With NUS, EZ-link To Drive Singapore’s Big Data Capabilities

ICT - Singapore
January 2017

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, the National University of Singapore (NUS), and EZ-Link, Singapore’s largest issuer of Contactless e-Purse Application (CEPAS) compliant cards, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate and boost Singapore’s smart computing and data-driven capabilities. The collaboration between the three organizations will bolster the University’s data science curriculum and pave the way for a pilot data analytics project with EZ-Link. It will also help build local IT skillsets, meet enterprise demands and support the research and development of advanced technologies in the Big Data era.

Alibaba Cloud will contribute SGD 700,000 (USD 493,000) in cloud credits towards the use of its cloud platform and data centers by students and researchers from NUS for academic and research purposes. IT experts from Alibaba Cloud will also offer hands-on lessons on the use of Alibaba Cloud’s platform for NUS staff and students. In addition, Alibaba Cloud and NUS will collaborate in the areas of cloud computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computing, and interactive digital media, as well as identifying opportunities for joint research projects and information exchange.

(Sources: Ez-Link, The Tech Portal)