Malaysia’s Broadband Plans Not Up to Speed Yet


Still waiting: Some existing users are
exasperated as they have yet to enjoy the higher broadband speeds
promised by their service providers.

Broadband users also complain of not enjoying lower prices

PETALING JAYA: The telcos may have announced lower prices and faster Internet speeds, but many existing fixed broadband users are complaining that they have yet to enjoy these benefits.

On Sunday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that Telekom Malaysia (TM), Maxis, Celcom and Time have introduced new entry-level plans below RM100 that are more than 30% cheaper.

But the price reduction and speed increase brought about by the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP), which was implemented on June 8, have yet to trickle down to consumers.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said in a statement he was aware that not all existing fixed broadband users are enjoying higher speeds and lower prices.

“I found that the packages do not lower the price of services to existing customers. This means that they cannot benefit from the new packages immediately,” said Gobind.

“I will meet with the telco representatives to discuss this matter in the near future. At the same time, I would also like to emphasise that telcos that have offered the new packages should ensure the services are actually implemented.”

Gobind said MCMC is required to monitor the implementation of the new plans and manage all complaints received and to take firm action where necessary to ensure that the services provided are in line with what was promised.

MaxisOne Home Fibre subscriber Leela Krishnan is disappointed that she has yet to receive any update from Maxis.

“No SMS, e-mail or call from the company to tell how MSAP would affect my monthly bill, or what new plans are available for me,” said the graphics designer, 44.

Maxis said the upgrade was not automatic for existing customers as they have to first pick one of two plans – 30Mbps at RM89 or 100Mbps at RM129 per month.

They can do so at the Maxis page, bit.ly/2gacJxB, but will be recontracted for 24 months. Also, customers who break the new contract will incur a RM500 penalty.

Maxis said recontracting is necessary as it is providing a new router which is capable of maximising the higher speed for WiFi, and at no cost to the consumer.

Astro IPTV customers have also been left hanging on the status of their packages as the company has yet to announce anything.

Idzla Hafiz, 34, who is using the Astro IPTV 10 package, said he is paying RM148 for a mere 10Mbps broadband speed, and he has not received any updates.

“I hope I won’t be paying the same amount next month because that means I will be spending RM59 more than Maxis users and still get a lower speed,” he said.

An Astro spokesman told The Star that the company is still in discussion with its broadband partners – Time and Maxis.

“Discussions are progressing well and we hope our broadband partners will extend the same benefits to our Astro IPTV customers,” the spokesman said, adding that it hopes to make an announcement soon.

Meanwhile, TM’s free upgrade for existing users, which started in August, is expected to go on until the first quarter of next year, as it says it has over 800,000 subscribers to upgrade.

Unifi Home 20Mbps or lower subscribers will be upgraded to 100Mbps, 30Mbps to 300Mbps, 50Mbps to 500Mbps and 100Mbps to 800Mbps.

Public relations consultant Daniel Yao, a Unifi customer of seven years, said it is “ridiculous” that Unifi introduced a cheaper plan for new users but long-time users are still stuck in the same plans.

He said Unifi informed him that the only way to opt for the cheaper and faster plan is to terminate his current package and sign up for a new one.

“That means I need to sign a new contract and redo the whole thing at a TM office,” he added.

TM’s Streamyx customers, especially in the outskirts, have also been complaining to MCMC on Twitter that they are still not being upgraded to Unifi and are being forced to pay more for lower speeds due to lack of infrastructure.

“I found out that there are no suggestions provided to address the issues faced by existing Streamyx users, therefore this is something I need to tackle immediately,” said Gobind.

As at press time, TM has yet to respond to queries from The Star.

Celcom, which offers its Home Fibre plans only in Sabah, said it has upgraded all existing customers to the higher speeds and lower prices since September without recontracting.

All its Home Fibre users, starting from 10Mbps, were upgraded to 100Mbps, and their bill reduced to RM120 per month.

The telco said those who have yet to receive their upgrades can contact its customer service line at 1-300-11-3282.

Time also claims that it has upgraded all its existing users and notified them via e-mail.

The 100Mbps plan (RM149) was upgraded to 500Mbps (RM139) while the 300Mbps (RM189) and 500Mbps (RM299) plans were both upgraded to 1Gbps (RM189).

However, the new subscription fees will only be reflected in bills that are issued from Oct 15 onwards.

If users are still facing slow speeds, it recommends that they restart their router and perform another speed test.

It is best done via a desktop or laptop connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, as users may not be able to get the full speed via WiFi.

If nothing works, users can get in touch with Time via 1800-18-1818 or cs@time.com.my.

Source: The Star by angelin yeoh, mei mei chu, and sharmila nair

Broadband users also complain of not enjoying lower prices

PETALING JAYA: The telcos may have announced lower prices and faster Internet speeds, but many existing fixed broadband users are complaining that they have yet to enjoy these benefits.

On Sunday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that Telekom Malaysia (TM), Maxis, Celcom and Time have introduced new entry-level plans below RM100 that are more than 30% cheaper.

But the price reduction and speed increase brought about by the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP), which was implemented on June 8, have yet to trickle down to consumers.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said in a statement he was aware that not all existing fixed broadband users are enjoying higher speeds and lower prices.

“I found that the packages do not lower the price of services to existing customers. This means that they cannot benefit from the new packages immediately,” said Gobind.

“I will meet with the telco representatives to discuss this matter in the near future. At the same time, I would also like to emphasise that telcos that have offered the new packages should ensure the services are actually implemented.”

Gobind said MCMC is required to monitor the implementation of the new plans and manage all complaints received and to take firm action where necessary to ensure that the services provided are in line with what was promised.

MaxisOne Home Fibre subscriber Leela Krishnan is disappointed that she has yet to receive any update from Maxis.

“No SMS, e-mail or call from the company to tell how MSAP would affect my monthly bill, or what new plans are available for me,” said the graphics designer, 44.

Maxis said the upgrade was not automatic for existing customers as they have to first pick one of two plans – 30Mbps at RM89 or 100Mbps at RM129 per month.

They can do so at the Maxis page, bit.ly/2gacJxB, but will be recontracted for 24 months. Also, customers who break the new contract will incur a RM500 penalty.

Maxis said recontracting is necessary as it is providing a new router which is capable of maximising the higher speed for WiFi, and at no cost to the consumer.

Astro IPTV customers have also been left hanging on the status of their packages as the company has yet to announce anything.

Idzla Hafiz, 34, who is using the Astro IPTV 10 package, said he is paying RM148 for a mere 10Mbps broadband speed, and he has not received any updates.

“I hope I won’t be paying the same amount next month because that means I will be spending RM59 more than Maxis users and still get a lower speed,” he said.

An Astro spokesman told The Star that the company is still in discussion with its broadband partners – Time and Maxis.

“Discussions are progressing well and we hope our broadband partners will extend the same benefits to our Astro IPTV customers,” the spokesman said, adding that it hopes to make an announcement soon.

Meanwhile, TM’s free upgrade for existing users, which started in August, is expected to go on until the first quarter of next year, as it says it has over 800,000 subscribers to upgrade.

Unifi Home 20Mbps or lower subscribers will be upgraded to 100Mbps, 30Mbps to 300Mbps, 50Mbps to 500Mbps and 100Mbps to 800Mbps.

Public relations consultant Daniel Yao, a Unifi customer of seven years, said it is “ridiculous” that Unifi introduced a cheaper plan for new users but long-time users are still stuck in the same plans.

He said Unifi informed him that the only way to opt for the cheaper and faster plan is to terminate his current package and sign up for a new one.

“That means I need to sign a new contract and redo the whole thing at a TM office,” he added.

TM’s Streamyx customers, especially in the outskirts, have also been complaining to MCMC on Twitter that they are still not being upgraded to Unifi and are being forced to pay more for lower speeds due to lack of infrastructure.

“I found out that there are no suggestions provided to address the issues faced by existing Streamyx users, therefore this is something I need to tackle immediately,” said Gobind.

As at press time, TM has yet to respond to queries from The Star.

Celcom, which offers its Home Fibre plans only in Sabah, said it has upgraded all existing customers to the higher speeds and lower prices since September without recontracting.

All its Home Fibre users, starting from 10Mbps, were upgraded to 100Mbps, and their bill reduced to RM120 per month.

The telco said those who have yet to receive their upgrades can contact its customer service line at 1-300-11-3282.

Time also claims that it has upgraded all its existing users and notified them via e-mail.

The 100Mbps plan (RM149) was upgraded to 500Mbps (RM139) while the 300Mbps (RM189) and 500Mbps (RM299) plans were both upgraded to 1Gbps (RM189).

However, the new subscription fees will only be reflected in bills that are issued from Oct 15 onwards.

If users are still facing slow speeds, it recommends that they restart their router and perform another speed test.

It is best done via a desktop or laptop connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, as users may not be able to get the full speed via WiFi.

If nothing works, users can get in touch with Time via 1800-18-1818 or cs@time.com.my.

Source: The Star by angelin yeoh, mei mei chu, and sharmila nair

Related:

Broadband prices come down – Nation
You can now get Unifi Pro 100Mbps with unlimited data for RM129 …

Gobind to immediately tackle issue of existing broadband and Streamyx users not getting upgraded

Bringing telecom industry up to speed – Business News

 

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Unknown Chinese startup creates the world’s most valuable Bytedance


Independent moves: Bytedance has become among the most successful major Chinese tech companies in creating an
international base without the backing of giants Alibaba and Tencent. — Reuters

 

Building a vision: Over five years, Zhang has grown the app into one of the most popular news services anywhere, with 120 million daily users. — Bloomberg

Said to be valued at over $75 billion in new round of funding.

Bloomberg reports that when  Zhang Yiming first shopped the idea of a news aggregation app powered
by artificial intelligence six years ago, investors including Sequoia Capital were skeptical
.

Back then, the question was how a 29-year-old locally trained software engineer could outsmart the numerous news portals operated by the likes of social media behemoth Tencent Holdings. and extract profit
where even Google had failed.

Zhang, now 35, proved them wrong. Today his company, Bytedance Ltd., is on its way to a more than $75 billion valuation — a price tag that surpasses Uber Technologies. to top the world, according to CB Insights.
The latest in a long line of investors who’ve come around is Softbank Group., which is said to be planning to invest about $1.5 billion.  Bytedance now counts KKR & Co., General Atlantic and even Sequoia as
backers. Much of its lofty valuation stems from the creation of an internet experience that’s a cross between Google and Facebook.

35-Year-Old Unknown Creates the World’s Most Valuable Startup

 

News aggregation app evolves into a multi-faceted media goliath

 

WHEN Zhang Yiming first shopped the idea of a news aggregation app powered by artificial intelligence six years ago, investors including Sequoia Capital were sceptical.

Back then, the question was how a 29-year-old locally trained software engineer could outsmart the numerous news portals operated by the likes of social media behemoth Tencent Holdings Ltd and extract profit where even Google had failed.

Zhang, now 35, proved them wrong.

Today his company, Bytedance Ltd, is on its way to a more than US$75bil valuation – a price tag that surpasses Uber Technologies Inc to top the world, according to CB Insights.

The latest in a long line of investors who have come around is Softbank Group Corp, which is said to be planning to invest about US$1.5bil. Bytedance now counts KKR & Co, General Atlantic and even Sequoia as backers.

Much of its lofty valuation stems from the creation of an internet experience that’s a cross between Google and Facebook.

“The most important thing is that we are not a news business. We are more like a search business or a social media platform,” Zhang said in a 2017 interview, adding that he employs no editors or reporters.

“We are doing very innovative work. We are not a copycat of a US company, both in product and technology.”

What’s remarkable is Zhang was able to do it all without taking money from the twin suns of China’s internet: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent.

It’s the first startup to emerge from the dwindling cohort of mobile players that hasn’t sought protection or funds from either of the two. In fact, it has often locked horns with them, in court and elsewhere. And it’s arguably more successful at engaging youthful audiences abroad.

The story of how Bytedance became a goliath begins with news site Jinri Toutiao but is tied more closely to a series of smart acquisitions and strategic expansions that propelled the company into mobile video and even beyond China. By nurturing a raft of successful apps, it has gathered a force of hundreds of millions of users and now poses a threat to China’s largest Internet operators.

The company has evolved into a multi-faceted empire spanning video service Tik Tok – known as Douyin locally – and a plethora of platforms for everything from jokes to celebrity gossip.

But as with Facebook at the same stage of its life, Bytedance now faces questions over when or even how it will start making a profit.

“The predominant issue in China’s internet is that the growth in users and the time each user spends online has slowed dramatically.

“It is becoming a zero-sum game, and costs for acquiring users and winning their time are increasing,” said Jerry Liu, an analyst with UBS.

“What Bytedance has created is a group of apps that are very good at attracting users and retaining their time, in part, leveraging the traffic from Jinri Toutiao.”

Despite its seeming isolation, it’s become the most successful major Chinese tech company in creating an international base, venturing via apps like Tik Tok into the US, South-East Asia and Japan.

Even Tencent’s WeChat had to pump the brakes on its own overseas initiative four years ago.

What Zhang perceived in 2012 was that Chinese mobile users struggled to find information they cared about on many apps.

That’s partly because of the country’s draconian screening of information. Zhang thought he could do better than incumbents such as Baidu, which enjoyed a near-monopoly on search.

The latter conflated advertising with search results, a botch that would later haunt the company via a series of medical scandals.

There was little Toutiao could do about censorship – in fact, the company’s been repeatedly excoriated by authorities for failing to filter content and been forced to clean up its services with alarming regularity.

But Zhang held fast to his early vision of delivering content that mattered to users through AI. The closest American equivalent was Facebook’s news feed.

After falling flat with the bulk of China’s venture capital stalwarts, Zhang eventually secured investment from Susquehanna International Group.

It began offering the news app in August 2012. The platform studied what users read and searched for, then referred information and articles based on those habits. The more people used it, the better the experience, and the longer people stayed.

By mid-2014, daily active users had climbed to more than 13 million.

Sequoia finally came to the table, leading a funding round of US$100mil.

“We push information, not by queries, by news recommendations,” Zhang said in the interview last year.

But it was video that really propelled Bytedance into the big leagues.

Streaming services have always been popular in China. Even during the desktop era, companies like YY Inc championed a model where people sang and danced in virtual showrooms to win online gifts from fans. Later, outfits like Kuaishou fuelled that penchant for zany showmanship.

Bytedance saw an opportunity, but made its videos much shorter: 15 seconds, to be precise.

Around September 2016, it quietly launched Douyin. The app let users shoot and edit footage, add filters and share them across platforms like the Twitter-like Weibo or WeChat.

That format appealed to shorter millennial attention spans and became an instant hit, so much so that WeChat later blocked direct access to the app.

A year after, Bytedance acquired Musical.ly for US$800mil. It saw synergy between the buzzy teen US social video app created by Chinese co-founders and Tik Tok, and is now in the process of combining them. Tik Tok and Douyin had a combined 500 million users as of July.

The challenge now is in translating buzz and viewership into dollars. The company is expanding its ad sales operations, particularly for Toutiao.

Several media buying agencies said its massive reach and the attention it draws is a natural lure for marketers. Many said Bytedance is even pulling spending away from Tencent.

Bytedance, which previously cut a deal with Cheetah Mobile to sell ad space, has brought most of its ad sales in-house, said Kenneth Tan, the chief digital officer for Mindshare China, an agency.

“From a pricing perspective, they are expensive for what they are. They definitely charge a premium,” Tan said. “But that has not been an inhibitor for the large brands.”

There’s a big caveat, however. Brands remain cautious about Bytedance’s regulatory issues, particularly given Beijing’s historic unpredictability around censorship.

This year, it had to shut down a popular joke-sharing app in April just as it appeared to take off. It also suspended Douyin and its bread-and-butter Toutiao around the same time.

That’s “a potential risk to brand collaboration,” said Sherry Pan, general manager for China at the agency Magna Global. — Bloomberg

Related: 

Khazanah to see foreign appointments – Business News

 

China battles US for AI and robotic space: Who’s ahead?


Robot dominates: Ford F150 trucks go through robots on the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant in
Dearborn, Michigan. Robots are also entering areas such as logistics warehousing, chemicals and plastics factories and F&B industries. — AFP
Humans vs. Robots

NO doubt, the FAANGs – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – are making the world a better place.

Still, they are being accused of being BAADD – big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy.

Regulators fine them, politicians take them to task, and even their backers warn of their power to cause harm. Much of the techlash is undeserved. There’s fake news everywhere.

Nevertheless, there is justified fear that the tech titans will use their power to protect and extend their dominance, often to the detriment of consumers. Indeed, the big tech platforms do raise worries about fair competition in particular.

In Singapore, the merger of Grab and Uber brings on legitimate concerns in the taxi space. The tricky task for regulators is how to restrain them without unduly stifling innovation.

Today, trust busters have granted tech giants the benefit of the doubt in the fight for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic space. At some point, who takes the moral and legal responsibility for their mechanical creations?

Like it or not, AI-enabled bots and machines are already here, in the form of drones, driverless cars and medical, educational and domestic robots. To muddle the picture still further, AI is now embodied in physical, sometimes humanoid, form in machines designed to engage directly with people.

Talk is rife about the outright banning of killer robots, which cross the moral red line (only humans are permitted to kill humans!). Already, there is a proposal to create a Robotics Commission in US and Europe to be responsible for moral and legal issues surrounding the use of robotics and AI enabled smart machines. High time too.

Robots and cobots

Armies of robots and collaborative robots (cobots) are spreading throughout factories and warehouses around the world, as the accelerating pace of automation transforms a widening range of industries.

And it is not just in advanced countries but in emerging economies as well where machines are a growing force, with global sales of industrial robots increasing by 18% to a record US$13.1bil in 2016.

These groups are benefiting from mounting demand for sophisticated machines that no longer just weld car bodies and lift heavy loads, but also perform complex functions from electronic component production to arranging chocolates neatly into boxes.

Another trend is the increasing range and type of robot, as they vary from flexible mechanical limbs to smart machines that can work alongside humans. Cobots are specifically designed to interact with people.

The robotics market has been growing strongly and will continue to grow. The spread of robots has piqued the debate over the suitability of humans versus robots as workers, with warning that more machines will take jobs. Consultants McKinsey found that about 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be automated.

Advanced automation is partly a response to a shortage of skilled manual labour, with robots often filling “dull, dirty, dangerous and delicate” roles that people simply do not want. Also, the falling cost of robotics systems, and breakthroughs in robotics technology – combining with the rising level of electronic communication between equipment and computers in factories, sometimes called the industrial Internet of Things.

Then there is the shift in some industries from producing a small variety of goods in large batches, to a greater mix of products in smaller batches. All these are basically driven by consumers. Although the largest user remains the car industry (mainly for welding and painting), the main driver of growth is the electronics and electrical sector, chiefly located in Asia and mainly for batteries, chips and display.

But robots are also entering other areas, such as logistics warehouses, chemicals and plastics factories and the food and beverage industries. In total, almost 300,000 units were sold worldwide last year, with three-quarters bound for just five countries: China, South Korea, Japan, US and Germany. Three in every 10 went to China alone.

Once the manual labour “workshop of the world”, it has been the largest buyer of industrial robots since 2013, and its purchases jumped by 27% in 2017. There were increased investments in many developing countries as well, such as Taiwan, Thailand, India and Mexico, as well as in Italy and France.

While there have been improvements in hardware capabilities, such as hydraulics and mobility, perhaps the most important developments are in sensors and software that are making robots more sensitive, flexible, precise and autonomous. The software side of industrial robotics is becoming more and more important.

However, despite the growth, robots still have many limitations when it comes to dexterity, judgment and the ability to improvise. Today, machines are beginning to learn new tasks from humans by imitation. This has opened up big possibilities, especially for cobots, which are smaller, lighter, more flexible and mobile. And, even more critically cheaper, making it more affordable for small and medium-sized enterprises to invest. While usually slower, they have greater adaptability, because they can be assigned to different tasks.

US dominance

True, US roads, airports, seaports and schools are on the slide. But US retains dominance in the most sophisticated fields – defence, elite universities and technology. Sure, US ceded the top spot to China in exports in 2007, in manufacturing in 2011, and absolute GDP by 2030. But Silicon Valley is still where the best ideas, smartest money and the most savvy entrepreneurs reside.

But China is catching up fast: its BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) are in the same league as the FAANGs and new stars are coming on fast (Didi Chuxing, Ant Financial and Lufax). China’s e-commerce sales are 2x US’ and China remits 11x more money by mobile phones than US (still scribbling cheques). China plans to lead globally in AI by 2030.

Its VC industry is booming – the entrepreneurial work-ethic in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen are a sight for sore eyes. Despite the huge progress, China remains far behind. Studies show that China’s tech industry is only about 42% as powerful as US (only 15% in 2012).

But Chinese tech has weak spots: (i) its total market value is only 32% of US; (ii) has two to three huge companies and lots of small ones; (iii) China is puny in semiconductors and business-facing software; (iv) its tech products has not as yet permeated the industrial economy; (v) Chinese non-techs are primitive – only 2.6% as digitalised as US; (vi) Chinese tech investment budget is only 30% as big as US, with foreign sales 18% of what US makes.

However, the gap narrows in the more dynamic parts of tech industry: (a) in e-commerce and internet, Chinese firms are 53% the size of US (in market value); (b) China’s unicorns are now worth 69% of US; (c) its VC activity, 85% of US in 2016; and (d) in “breakthrough” AI innovations, China’s population of AI experts is only 6% the size of US – with their best minds still working in large US techs; while cited AI papers by Chinese scientists are at 89% of US.

At the present pace, China will need a further 10-15 years to catch up. Viewed from China, US giant techs remain as “comfy monopolists”, while Chinese techs are plain “hungry”. Beijing’s blueprint: to create a US$150bil AI-industry by 2030 underlines its desire to beat US.

China’s advantage: sheer numbers of people, data, talent and superior lines of codes being written! At 730 million, China’s online population alone is more than 2x US size, and more tech-savvy. While US faces cut-backs in research money, China is committing ample money and also political capital into its relentless drive to reign supreme in AI.

However, the quality of fundamental research in China remains a problem. It lags behind EU in terms of the number of AI papers in the top 5% of most cited.

Where’s EU?

Few in US and China seriously regard Europe becoming a force in machine learning – the area AI has made the most progress in recent years. The process involves feeding reams of data through algorithms as AI learns to interpret other data.

Europe simply lacks scale; unlike US and China where tech giants have a surfeit of the most vital resource for AI – data; also attracted the best talent & boost the biggest computer clouds. Here, Europe is way behind.

Since US and China have centralised data systems (controlled by very few large firms), Europe can create a more decentralised option. China is expected to hold 30% of world data by 2030; US with just as much. Europe has data too, but needs to pool its diversified resources in research and data. But, Europe has institutional inertia, with much of its funding centered in academic institutions – not the best place for it. To be relevant, Europe has to do much more. Still, no match for US and China.

Silicon Valley: where next?

The stretch of land in the US Bay Area running from San Jose to San Francisco is home to three (Apple, Facebook, Google) of the world’s five most valuable tech giants. All claim Silicon Valley (SV) as their birthplace and home, as do trailblazers such as Airbnb, Tesla and Uber.

The Bay Area has the 19th largest economy in the world, ranking above Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. SV has become a byword for innovation and ingenuity. It has also been at the centre of several cycles of Schumpeterian destruction and regeneration, in silicon chips, personal computers, software and internet services. Its combination of engineering expertise, thriving business networks, deep pools of capital, strong universities and a risk-taking culture have made SV almost impossible to clone.

There is no credible rival for its position as the world’s pre-eminent innovation hub. But there are signs that SV’s influence is peaking. Yes, something is changing. According to a recent survey, 46% of residents surveyed plans to leave the Bay Area in the next few years, up from 34% in 2016. So, many startups are branching out: “Off Silicon Valleying.”

In 2013, SV investors put half their money into startups outside the Bay Area; now it is closer to two-thirds. Reasons: SV has just become too expensive; among the world’s costliest. Young startups pay at least 4x more to operate here. New technologies, from quantum computing to synthetic biology, make lower margins than internet services. There is also the nastier features of Bay-Area life: clogged traffic, discarded syringes and shocking inequality. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is now ranked first for startup activity, based on the density of startups and new entrepreneurs.

There are others: Los Angeles (which has a vibrant tech scene), Phoenix and Pittsburgh (have become hubs for autonomous vehicles); New York (for media startups); London (for fintech); Shenzhen (for hardware). None of these places can match the SV on its own; between them, they point to a world in which innovation can be better distributed. The problem is that the wider playing field for innovation is being levelled down, away from the dominant effects of tech giants.

Second, the increasingly unfriendly policies in the West. Rising anti-immigrant sentiment and tighter visa regimes have economy-wide effects: foreign entrepreneurs create around 25% of new companies in America. Unfortunately, SV’s peak looks more like a warning that innovation everywhere is becoming harder. SV is fast becoming more an idea instead of a place. Wall Street went through a similar transformation; its name becoming shorthand for a whole industry.

As tech firms set their sights on disrupting old-fashioned industries, like healthcare and logistics, they may find that it helps to be based in cities that claim deep expertise in these areas – and where garages housing startups are just the stuff of museums and memory.

What then are we to do

The time has come to love robots. Asians do. But not in the West where robots receive terrible press. They worry about robots killing jobs. In Asia, robots are today commonly used in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. ADB’s June 2018 report analysing 12 developing Asian economies in 2005-15 concluded that rising demand had more than compensated for jobs lost to automation. The adoption of new technologies, such as modern machine tools and computer systems in factories and offices, had stimulated higher productivity and economic growth. That transformation, it estimated, had created 124 million new jobs, compared with the 101 million jobs lost to technology.

It is worth noting that there are two types of robots: those that do the work of humans and those that enhance their performance. We hear too much about the first type and too little of the second. Sure, their creations help humans deal with the “3 Ds”: dirty, dull and dangerous tasks. But countries that have the highest adoption of robots also have the lowest unemployment rates. Also, they help address the acute demographic squeeze as societies rapidly age. Some Asian societies prefer robots to immigrants to supplement their shrinking workforces. Robots are increasingly moving out of the factory into homes and hospitals, where they will need new capabilities.

I believe that technologies are always a net job creator over the long run, but, as Keynes put it, in the long run we are all dead. As these technologies make their way into every industry, they will benefit those at the very top with the skills and education to leverage the productivity advantages that AI affords.

Medical specialists, for example, could dramatically increase their income by using AI’s productive analytics to better diagnose and treat patients. But workers doing highly repetitive tasks that can easily be done by machines will not fare so well. This has massive consequences.

A McKinsey report shows that, while digitalisation has the potential to boost productivity and growth, it may also hold back demand if it compresses labour’s share of income and increases inequality. We badly need a kind of digital New Deal. For as many jobs as will be replaced by automation, there are other areas – customer service, big data analysis, etc. – that desperately need talent. Companies that pledge to retain workers and retrain them to develop skills to get stable jobs, should be offered tax incentives to do so. And spend the cash on factory upgrades, technical improvements, and re-training costs.

There are plenty of such projects that workers could be deployed now – including helping to expand rural broadband. It is a way for companies and government to turn a potential difficult employment situation into an opportunity by using this disruption to prepare & train a 21st-century digital workforce, and build public infrastructure to support it.

Credit: What are we to do? by Lin See-yan – Former banker, Harvard educated economist and British Chartered Scientist, Tan Sri Lin See-Yan is the author of The Global Economy in Turbulent Times (Wiley, 2015) & Turbulence in Trying Times (Pearson, 2017).

 

Related: 

Khazanah to see foreign appointments – Business News

Revolutionising accounting for a new era


The field of accounting is in need of a new breed of professionals who can contribute more than a quantifiable value to companies.

 

Increasingly, accountants in business are given the opportunity to be less involved in automated operations and focus more on big picture strategies, which gives a clear indication of the type of skills required in the near future. Bryan Chung, FCPA

 

WHEN talking about the Industrial Revolution, images that often come to mind include the extensive use of steam power, the birth of heavy machinery and ironworks, and bleak factories in England.

However, two more industrial revolutions have since passed and the 21st century is paving its way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), which is seeing the rise of autonomous decision making of cyber-physical systems and machine learning through cloud technology.

In simple words, IR 4.0 is the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet to transform age-old processes and operating procedures across all industries.

With such change taking place, what does this mean for the accounting industry and where do accountants find their relevance in an era that looks to automate everything?

Calculating assets

In an interview with international education provider Kaplan, Malaysian Institute of Accountants’ (MIA) chief executive officer Dr Nurmazilah Datuk Mahzan said, “Among the current trends that are creating waves in the accountancy profession are big data and analytics.

“Companies of all sizes create massive structured, unstructured and semi-structured data every day. Organisations harnessing big data would be able to find new insights and discover unique patterns of their customer behaviour or even create new businesses that were previously not possible.”

Echoing her sentiments is Bryan Chung, Fellow of CPA Australia (FCPA), divisional councillor at CPA Australia (Malaysia), who believes that even though AI is good at matching patterns and automating processes – making technology useful to many functions in companies in the process – accountants still play a vital role.

He says, “While there is a lot of hype surrounding blockchain and AI in accountancy with more firms taking steps to increase or experiment with their use, it is unlikely that accountants (or auditors) will be out of a job anytime soon.

“It is likely that most of the administration process will be the first to be introduced to AI. Increasingly, accountants in business are given the opportunity to be less involved in automated operations and focus more on big-picture strategies, which gives a clear indication of the type of skills required in the near future.”

The challenge, however, is turning the current workforce in the accounting field into professionals who truly understand the implications of IR 4.0, not just in terms of their personal skills but also movements within the industry.


Discovering market potential

Gone are the days when sales numbers, website traffic and KPIs were sufficient information to measure monthly net profits.

In the same Kaplan interview, the organisation’s global professional accountancy head Tanya Worsley said, “Businesses today depend on their accountants beyond purely checking financial figures and balancing books.

“Financial professionals are expected to be able to provide their clients with actionable insights that can add value to the organisation’s overarching strategic goals.”

The changing role of accountants in the digital economy is what prompted MIA to launch the Digital Technology Blueprint in July this year, a document that outlines the five driving principles to help guide Malaysian accountants to respond appropriately to digital technology.

These principles are related to digital technology trends, the identification of capabilities, harnessing of digital technology, funding and governance.

Accountants who fail to stay updated with the latest trends and knowledge will cause their employers to lose out in the long run, while competing firms take advantage of the evolving cloud system.

For these reasons, upskilling and obtaining professional qualifications from MIA or accountancy bodies such as CPA Australia, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants should be considered a necessity instead of mere steps for higher management.

As most professional accountancy bodies require members to undergo regular training to maintain their memberships, these certified professionals are expected to be fully prepared for IR 4.0 and, by and large, artificial intelligence experts.

Chung adds, “IT knowledge is no longer an option. Lest we aim erroneously, it is not how extensive the IT knowledge is (as this is available in abundance and can be acquired easily), but the ability to understand the evolution of the profession and apply the knowledge appropriately.”

Explaining that accountants must use technology in their favour to elevate companies to new heights, he gives the example of successful tech businesses that used e-platforms to achieve massive scalability and visibility within a short time, despite having owners or founders who were not IT graduates.

“In the same way, accountants should be more strategic, make sense of the vast data available and deliver services based on the twin pillars of speed and quality,” he continues.


Eliminating liabilities

When combining this piece of information with the future route of total automation for jobs that are repetitive, rule-based and involve limited or well-defined physicality, the traditional job scope of accountants is coming to an end.

Employers are bemoaning the skill gaps currently present in the knowledge of digital technologies, forcing companies to spend resources retraining and reskilling their employees.

At the other end of the spectrum, constant news reports highlight the more pressing issue of employers having difficulty finding good graduates who can hit the ground running upon entering the workforce.

These situations highlight the dire need for a new breed of accountants who can provide more all-inclusive corporate reporting, which tells less about the numbers and more about the narrative of a company.

The Malaysian education system, for one, must move towards becoming an ecosystem for continuous upgrading of skills, working together with employers, be they officials from the Government, small business entrepreneurs or industry experts from professional organisations.

Colleges and universities need to continue reviewing their course offerings so that graduates have an accurate understanding of the evolving industry while being trained to adapt to new technologies and autonomous changes at the workplace.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Chung points out, “There are now many initiatives being undertaken by various professional organisations and associations to provide education to accountants to increase awareness of the changes taking place.

“There are efforts now by professional bodies, corporates and academia to come together to address the disconnect between what’s being studied at universities and what’s relevant in the business world.”

Given how the financial technology space has demonstrated the willingness of companies to use innovative methods, Chung is optimistic about the future as the accounting profession can not only make positive inroads but ride on the back of this momentum to accelerate the learning and adoption of technologies as the nation moves into a new era of automation.

Credit: Bryan Chung, FCPA

 

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Get-rich-quick ‘Bitcoin Formula’ exposed: Vincent Tan denies investing US$250m



 

Vincent Tan denies investing US$250m in get-rich-quick ‘Formula’

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun (<<pic) has denied investing US$250 million in a project known as “The Formula” which allegedly promises huge profits and quick riches.

Tan said in a statement today said that the ‘The Formula’ is supposedly a share trading platform that allows trades executed through it to beat the stock market with an accuracy of 80% thereby allowing users to make huge profits.

“I refer to a current online media entitled ‘Vincent Tan gives back to the people with his latest project” wherein it is reported that I have invested US$250 million in a project known as “The Formula” with a wish to make Malaysians wealthy.

“I would like to categorically deny that I have made an investment in this project or that I am in any way involved in it and there is absolutely no truth in this report which I believe has been put out by unscrupulous persons to deceive the public,” Tan said.

Tan has reported the matter to the relevant authorities so that appropriate action can be taken and urged the public to take caution on promises of quick riches and not to fall prey to scams.

Tan said this is not the first time his name has been used in similar instances for the purpose of lending credibility to online investment scams.

On June 28 (see below), Tan exposed a dubious startup trading platform called “Bitcoin Formula” which used his name and doctored photos to promote its business.

An article claiming he had invested in and was promoting Bitcoin Formula, together with some photographs, was circulated on social media.

The article was accompanied by a few photographs, one showing Tan allegedly awarding a cheque for RM500,000 to Bitcoin Formula for winning the “Project of the Year” prize in a computer engineering “hackathon” in Kuala Lumpur, and another picture of him apparently speaking about Bitcoin Formula at a social media business summit.

Both pictures were in fact images altered with the use of photo-editing software and had originally been taken by theSun in March 2014 and January last year.

A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia found that no company by the name of Bitcoin Formula exists.

Credit:  Kevin Deva newsdesk@thesundaily.com

‘Bitcoin Formula’ exposed

 

This picture of Tan Sri Vincent Tan speaking at the Social Economic Forum at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan in the Philippines was doctored to appear as if he was promoting Bitcoin Formula

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya group founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan has blown the whistle on a dubious startup trading platform called “Bitcoin Formula”, which has used his name and doctored photos to promote its business.

It came to Tan’s attention that an article claiming he had invested in and was promoting Bitcoin Formula, together with some photographs, was being circulated on social media after a friend who saw it asked him if it would indeed be a good investment.

“How can it be a good investment when the operators have to resort to such dishonest ways like using my name in fake reports and doctored photographs to promote their business?” he said.

“I think anyone who invests in such a shady business will surely lose their money,” said Tan, who urged the public not to be deceived by such posts on social media.

The article about the company, that purports to promote blockchain and crypto technologies, claimed Tan had donated RM500,000 to Bitcoin Formula, a supposed financial startup by young computer engineers developing an efficient trading platform.

The article was accompanied by a few photographs, one showing Tan allegedly awarding a cheque for RM500,000 to Bitcoin Formula for winning the “Project of the Year” prize in a computer engineering “hackathon” in Kuala Lumpur, and another picture of him apparently speaking about Bitcoin Formula at a social business summit.

Both pictures were in fact images altered with the use of photo-editing software, and had originally been taken by theSun in March 2014 and January last year.

The cheque presentation photo was actually of Tan presenting a RM500,000 award to representatives of Dharma Master Cheng Yen of the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation after she was named Better Malaysia Foundation’s Personality of the Year in 2015.

The other image was taken when Tan was speaking at the Social Economic Forum that was held at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan, in the Philippines.

A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia found that no company by the name of Bitcoin Formula exists.

Tan is apparently the latest prominent person whose name had been used by get-rich-quick scheme operators to scam unsuspecting people, and prominent tycoons like AirAsia founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and “Sugar King” Robert Kuok were among people whose names have been used by these scammers.

Tan also dismissed a Facebook article claiming that he will be donating RM525 million to Tabung Harapan Malaysia.

“There is absolutely no truth to either of these reports, that I believe have been put out by unscrupulous persons to deceive the public. I hope the public do not get fooled by these fake reports,” he added.


Credit:  Amar Shah Mohsen newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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BLOCFEST www.blocfest.asia SOUTHEAST ASIA’S INTERNATIONAL BLOCKCHAIN EVENT Blockchain and beyond Brothers Hway (left) and Tze-…

 

Blockchain Festival & Conference Week, Kuala Lumpur 26~27 Sept 2018


BLOCFEST www.blocfest.asia

SOUTHEAST ASIA’S INTERNATIONAL BLOCKCHAIN EVENT

Blockchain and beyond

Brothers Hway (left) and Tze-Co say networking will be a big part of the Blocfest conference. — ART CHEN/The Star

Educate yourself on blockchain technology which is transforming businesses around the globe.

What began as an experiment in buying Bitcoin for a holiday led two brothers to explore blockchain technology and eventually organise a blockchain conference – Blocfest 2018 – which will feature more than 30 ­international speakers.

Gwei Tze-Co, 49, started investing in Bitcoin four years ago, ahead of a trip to Brazil to attend the 2014 World Cup.

“I was planning to go to Argentina after the World Cup and read that the currency situation was so bad there that you could use Bitcoin instead. I bought some but didn’t end up using it,” he says.

But that initial investment got him hooked on blockchain and cryptocurrency, especially Ethereum.

Meanwhile, Gwei Hway, 43, who is a ­programmer and has worked in tech firms for the last 20 years, was drawn to ­blockchain and cryptocurrency because of his brother’s fascination for them.

Tze-Co says in Malaysia blockchain is still an emerging technology though a few good projects by local founders have been launched.

“However, lots of people just use blockchain and cryptocurrency for hype. To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of scams and many Malaysians are falling for them,” he says.

He says that a conference with legitimate speakers sharing their experience could go a long way in educating people on how blockchain can make a difference in their businesses.

He adds that once a person better understands blockchain technology and especially how it’s used in business, it will be easier for him or her to identify the fake ones.

This is one of the reasons the brothers are organising Blocfest through their company, Blockchain Asia Sdn Bhd, which is scheduled to take place at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on Sept 26 and 27.

The two-day conference will focus on the potential of blockchain technology in South-East Asia and feature speakers from various ­backgrounds, including ­blockchain entrepreneurs, developers, global investors, academics and ­enthusiasts.

Discussions at the conference will be divided into three streams – Regulatory, Academic and Enterprise.

Regulatory will help you understand the current regulatory landscape and what’s in store in the future for blockchain; Academy will tackle academic concepts and their impact on blockchain; and Enterprise will highlight technological aspects of blockchain and potential use-case scenarios.

Hway expects half the attendees to come from enterprises which aren’t too familiar with blockchain technology but are exploring how it could be relevant to them, while the remaining will be investors, academics and experts in the field.

“Networking is definitely a big part of the conference, and as many solution providers will be present in the exhibition halls, we expect a lot of companies to ink deals or find partnerships,” he says.

Joining the conversation will be ­regulators from countries that have begun to explore the issue, including Taiwanese Member of Parliament Jason Hsu, better known as the Crypto Congressman due to his staunch ­support for the technology, and a ­representative from the Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority which spearheads the country’s financial ­technology efforts.

Tze-Co says there have been talks to get Malaysian regulators to ­participate and share their thoughts on the laws required to facilitate blockchain in Malaysia but the discussion is ongoing.

Other key speakers that will be at Blocfest are cryptofinance ­platform Fusion’s founder Dejun Qian, blockchain veteran and ProximaX Ltd founder Lon Wong, anti-counterfeit system Wabi’s CEO Alexander Busarov, and dating marketplace Viola.AI’s CEO Violet Lim.

In addition to Blocfest, ­attendees can also take part in several other events during the KL Blockchain Week, which will be held between Sept 24 and 27, including a ­hackathon.

Those interested in attending Blocfest can get 40% off VIP ­tickets priced at US$450 (RM1,860) or normal ­tickets priced at US$375 (RM1,550) by keying in the promo code BLOC40D ­during checkout but this offer is only ­available for a limited time. Visit www.blocfest.asia for more ­information.

Credit:Qishin Tariq The Star online

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China to build world-leading national laboratory for quantum information sciences



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China is planning to build a massive 100-billion-yuan national laboratory for #quantum information sciences, in order to establish itself as a leader in quantum information sciences.

The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, which will be spread across Shanghai and Beijing and cities in Anhui province, will focus on the frontier science and key technology of the second quantum revolution, and develop strategic emerging industries covering quantum communication, computation, and precision measurement, so as to become a pioneer in the global competition and future  development of QIS, news portal CBN reported.
The information was revealed at the 2018 International Conference on Quantum Cryptography in Shanghai in August.  The project has allegedly received 2 billion yuan in financial support from the city of Shanghai and Anhui province.
The conference marked the first time for China to hold such an influential international academic event in the field of quantum cryptography, boosting the development of the country’s quantum communications network.
QIS can further improve information security, computing speed, and measurement accuracy, as so to provide core strategic power for national security and sustainable development.
China has been leading the global quantum revolution after the successful launch of
the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, the world’s first quantum satellite, and the construction of the 2,000-kilometer Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication line.The market volume of China’s quantum communication industry reached 18 billion yuan in 2017, and is expected to reach 32 billion yuan in 2018, with a year-on-year increase of 77.78%, according to data from Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, the
most influential industry research and innovation consulting brand in China.

People’s Daily, China

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