Daily Review: Asia – World’s Cradle of Futuristic Development

Modern cross-industry champions made choices that guided them to leading positions, but as environments around the world rapidly change, every organization needs to re-evaluate its stance on every front. Even a very powerful conglomerate like Alibaba must continuously and aggressively transform their strategies to respond to rising competition and rapid adoption of advanced technologies by major competitors. To do so, Alibaba opens doors to seemingly unrelated industries by focusing its technological capabilities to solve old problems in the biggest and most relevant segments for its main market industries.

Tencent is not playing games either. By 2020, there will hardly be any Tencent-free industry (whether there will be an Alibaba-free industry is also doubtful). Staying true to its principle to improve users’ lives through the means of digitization and technology, as Meng Zhang, General Manager of Tencent Medical, said, the company, aside from building the future of retail, propelling digital applications in the area of health and medical services, is also taking aim at the world of voice commerce, and now, at making its super-app WeChat even more powerful by replacing identification documents with the Scan-WeChat-to-cross-border procedure for travelers crossing Hong Kong-China borders.

WeChat is already a commercial powerhouse with close to 1 billion people loyally using it for all sorts of arrangements. Its every next step brings it closer to defining the age of convenience.

Pick #1. Tencent Eyes WeChat to Banish Travel Papers for Trips Between Hong Kong and China

Tencent Holdings is working with China’s authorities for its WeChat app to replace travel documents on border crossings between Hong Kong and China. Tencent demonstrated its proposed Scan-WeChat-to-cross-border procedure at the border checkpoint, which could render it unnecessary for Chinese citizens to carry travel documents.

The messenger-to-payment WeChat app now has more than 1 billion users, most of them in mainland China.

Tencent said it was working with Chinese authorities to roll out the biometric data-based E-card scheme for mainland and Hong Kong citizens to link identity documents to their WeChat app and cross the border with simple code and face scans. With the E-card scheme, Tencent hoped residents of China’s Greater Bay Area, encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and southern Guangdong province, would be the first to experience one mobile, seamless travel before it is rolled out elsewhere.

The border between Hong Kong and China is one of the world’s busiest, with more than 230 million travelers crossing land checkpoints in 2016.

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Pick #2. Alibaba Launches AI-Backed Agricultural Tool to Boost Income for China’s Farmers

Alibaba launched its ‘ET Agricultural Brain’ in Shanghai, a digital tool aimed at boosting agricultural efficiency, crop yields, and income for China’s farmers by enabling them to make better use of big data. The ET Agricultural Brain, backed by Alibaba’s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud, can digitally record production details to help regulate the full life-cycle of production, boosting quality, and capacity.

The introduction of cloud-based agricultural intelligence is aimed at helping Chinese farmers to increase their crop yields by, for example, helping them to potentially achieve income of US $1,000 for rice per acre of land. – Simon Hu, President of Alibaba Cloud

China’s Ministry of Agriculture has estimated that the average annual income of each farmer will surpass 13,000 yuan or about US $2,000 in 2017, representing a 50% increase from five years ago.

Alibaba Cloud previously launched its ‘ET City Brain’ in October 2016.

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Pick #3. Stung By Compliance Costs, Asia Banks Urge Watchdogs to Approve More FinTech

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia last week was fined a record $530 million for breaching money laundering and terror financing laws. The Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said it would like to see greater use of new technologies in KYC AML checks, as they promise to drastically cut costs.

FinTech solutions, facial recognition, for example, hold out great hope for the industry, but haven’t been embraced as quickly as some might like by regulators around the world. – Mark Austen, Chief Executive, The Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

In 2017, the number of employees working on KYC compliance in financial institutions reached an average of 307, jumping from just 68 a year earlier. HSBC alone spent $3 billion last year on compliance. It tripled its compliance headcount between 2013 and 2017 and now employs 8,600 compliance staff.

Whether KYC and AML (anti-money laundering) headcount will fall comes down to whether the institutions can automate – there are a lot trying to as it means they can cut costs and probably actually improve compliance. – Mark Austen, Chief Executive, The Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

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Pick #4. SAP Latest Enterprise Player to Offer Cloud Blockchain Service

SAP is making the SAP Leonardo Blockchain service, a cloud service to help companies build applications based on digital ledger-style technology, generally available.

Gil Perez, Senior Vice President for Product & Innovation and Head of Digital Customer Initiatives at SAP, says SAP is taking an agnostic approach to the underlying ledger technology whether it’s the open-source Hyperledger project, where SAP is a platinum sponsor, MultiChain or any additional blockchain or decentralized distributed ledger technologies.

They join other enterprise companies like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon who have previously released blockchain services for their customers.

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Pick #5. Acuant Granted New Remote Image Verification Patent

Acuant, a provider of identity verification solutions, has been awarded US Patent No. 9,916,327, which focuses on remote image acquisition and the processing of ID documents.

This patent covers the ability for a user to capture an ID document on their choice of device (mobile or desktop) and send that ID document to a secure server using web services for processing (data extraction and authentication).

Acuant processes millions of transactions globally each month with its cloud and mobile products. Acuant currently has more than 20 issued patents.

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