Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 23, 2022 - May 29, 2022.
Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology
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NEWS

HSBC launches US$1 bil lending for female entrepreneurs

HSBC has launched the Female Entrepreneur Fund, which will provide US$1 billion in lending to female-owned businesses in 11 markets, including Malaysia, over the next 12 months.

The fund was launched together with the HSBC Roar initiative, which enables female entrepreneurs, as well as successful applicants, to access a series of masterclasses hosted by experienced business leaders; tailored networking sessions with major companies in markets where the fund operates; insights from the investor community and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors; and bespoke advisory for female entrepreneurs from experienced HSBC bankers.

As access to funding remains one of the biggest hurdles for female business leaders worldwide, HSBC hopes the initiative will break down the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and provide the infrastructure and support to help them scale and grow their businesses.

The HSBC Female Entrepreneur Fund will be open to both new and existing customers across 11 markets, and all fund applicants will have access to the HSBC Roar programme. The HSBC Roar programme will also be available to female business leaders across nine markets globally.

Twitter’s gamified privacy policy

Twitter has made its new privacy policy easy to understand for all users, giving its privacy site a fresh look and rolled out a video game to help users understand the updates.

The changes include:

• Reimagined privacy policy and privacy site: rewritten with easy-to-understand language;

• Twitter Data Dash: a new privacy video game to teach people about their privacy policies in a fun and engaging format; and

• Research into privacy icons: for privacy settings and controls recognisable on Twitter and elsewhere globally.

The redesigned privacy policy contains less “legalese” among others, and the microblogging platform has organised its policy into three new, clear-cut sections: data collection, data use and data sharing. The policy has also been expanded to account for various media types beyond tweets. Plus, there is a new language to explain how media is personalised on Twitter to serve ads to users.

To help users navigate the most complex parts of the platform’s policy and get users engaged, it introduced a new privacy policy video game, created by award-winning game developer Momo Pixel.

The company also said it is working on new privacy iconography — “visual symbols that represent core settings related to security and privacy across the service. Like the magnifying glass is a widely recognised icon indicating a search function, our goal is to propose standardised privacy icons for privacy settings and controls recognisable on Twitter and elsewhere globally”.

The new privacy policy, redesigned privacy site and browser game are available in nine languages.

Amazon, Matrade to help local SMEs sell globally 

Amazon Global Selling will be hosting a series of events with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) to promote Matrade’s eTRADE Programme 2.0 facilitation and the New Seller Incentive by Amazon.

The event is to aid local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in launching and expanding their businesses on Amazon. The initiative also helps to take Malaysian-made products global through eTRADE Programme 2.0. 

eTRADE Programme 2.0 helps new businesses set up cross-border e-commerce websites for export, while SMEs that are already engaged in e-commerce are given additional assistance in digital marketing and e-commerce-related training to help them progress to the next level.

With an incentive of up to RM5,000 for a one-year subscription, the upgraded eTRADE Programme 2.0 will continue to help SMEs onboard cross-border e-commerce platforms for export. Companies venturing into e-commerce to undertake digital marketing and training activities would be provided with a new incentive of up to RM20,000. 

Meanwhile, Amazon provides selling partners with the tools and resources needed to expand their business. The platform makes it easier for small businesses to connect with potential customers around the world. For this very reason, Amazon launched the New Seller Incentives — a suite of benefits worth more than RM218,000 in potential value.

China orders government, state firms to stop using foreign PCs

China has ordered central government agencies and state-backed corporations to replace foreign-branded personal computers (PCs) with domestic options within two years, over growing concerns about information security, reported Bloomberg.

According to the news report, staff were asked to turn in foreign PCs for local alternatives that run on operating software developed domestically. The mandated exercise is likely to see the replacement of at least 50 million PCs on the central-government level alone, said a source.

The decision advances China’s decade-long campaign to replace imported technology with local alternatives — which covers everything from semiconductors to networking gear and phones, according to Bloomberg.

The exercise is likely to directly affect sales by HP Inc and Dell Technologies Inc, brands that are used widely in the country.

The exercise will be extended to provincial governments later and also abide by the two-year timeframe, added the report.

 

PEOPLE MOVES

Silverlake Axis appoints Goh Shiou Ling as deputy CEO

Singapore Exchange’s Mainboard-listed company Silverlake Axis (SAL) has appointed Goh Shou Ling as deputy CEO to lead the company’s non-banking business operations. 

Goh will primarily support group managing director, Andrew Tan, oversee new business initiatives and implementation of internal initiatives, and lead the strategic investment committee. Goh graduated from Duke University with a degree in Science and Mathematics and began her career as an economic consultant at a US-based consulting firm. 

Goh was executive director at SAL and spent seven years in strategic acquisitions and investments.

Juliana Abu Bakar joins Wahed Malaysia as country head

Former Touch ‘n Go head of digital wallet, Juliana Abu Bakar, is the new country head of Wahed Malaysia. She will be responsible for implementing and reinforcing growth strategies and leading business development functions in Malaysia.

During her tenure at Touch ‘n Go, Juliana developed and introduced the Touch ‘n Go e-wallet to the market. She also boosted use cases for the e-wallet by working with strategic partners and convincing online and physical retailers to adopt the e-wallet as a new form of cashless payment.

 

GRANTS & COMPETITIONS

VTEX’s fourth accelerator programme open for applications

VTEX, an enterprise digital commerce platform, has launched the fourth edition of its accelerator programme, which will run from May to December 2022. Its past programmes received 830 applications from 50 countries.

The accelerator programme is for start-ups and partner solutions that have developed the first version, or the minimum viable product (MVP), of their solutions in the area of digital commerce. VTEX will then select up to five solutions each month. Start-ups with approved solutions will receive a year of technical support from VTEX to develop their product.

Selected solutions will be further evaluated during the Apps Grand Prix, which will be held in early 2023. One solution will be awarded for each category: data usage; customer loyalty and recurrence; operation optimisation; unified commerce; fintech and blockchain; and conversion funnel optimisation.

All winners will receive expert mentoring, technical support and visibility in the digital commerce ecosystem. They will also be allowed to showcase their solutions at the next edition of VTEX Day, where all travelling costs will be borne by VTEX for both days of the event.

Applications are now open. Participation selection will commence every 23rd of the month and the development process support will commence one year after the date of signing the partnership agreement between VTEX and selected start-ups. For more information, visit https://vtex.com/us-en/accelerator/.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge 2022 opens its doors to Southeast Asian, Australian and New Zealand start-ups

Start-up accelerator programme, the K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), is open to start-ups that are keen to work and build a strong foundation in South Korea.

Supported by the South Korean government, the seventh edition of the KSGC was launched by the country’s National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) in 2016 and has been integral in connecting promising start-ups from around the world to South Korea.

The government is committed to making the country a start-up and innovation powerhouse and has invested an average of US$2 billion yearly since 2013 towards that goal.

Over 2,600 global start-ups applied from 118 countries for the KSGC 2020 batch. To date, the programme has resulted in 109 start-ups from across 44 countries setting up their base of operations in South Korea.

KSGC 2022 will offer 60 global start-ups that are less than seven years old a 3½-month residency programme that will run from Aug 1 to Nov 15. The deadline for applications is May 31.

Each start-up’s representative must be of foreign nationality, and express a clear interest to expand into the South Korean and East Asian markets. There is a cash prize for the top 10 start-ups, with US$120,000 for the winner.

The programme will be conducted in Pangyo Techno Valley. Participants will have their living expenses covered and be provided with free office and project spaces to work from. Start-ups will have access to mentors, consultants and business development teams to help fulfil their potential and aid in their localisation efforts.

To sign up for KSGC 2022, visit https://tinyurl.com/KSGCpress, and for more information about KSGC, visit: https://www.k-startupgc.org/.

 

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

The world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist, known as Ai-Da, has launched its first solo exhibition at the 59th international art exhibition at the Venice Art Biennale showcasing work created with a new, upgraded painting arm. The exhibition, Leaping into the Metaverse, which runs until July 3, has a centrepiece of four portraits including a self-portrait and one of Mary Shelly, the author of Frankenstein. Named after the mathematician Ada Lovelace, Ai-Da uses cameras in her eyes and artificial intelligent algorithms to create the artwork.

 

TECH BOOKS

Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Big decisions are hard to make. We consult friends and family, make sense of confusing “expert” advice online, and maybe read a self-help book to guide us. In the end, we usually just do what feels right, pursuing high-stakes self-improvement — such as who we marry, how to date, where to live, and what makes us happy — based solely on what our gut instinct tells us. But what if our gut is wrong? Biased, unpredictable and misinformed, our gut, it turns out, is not all that reliable. And data can prove this.

In Don’t Trust Your Gut, economist, former Google data scientist and The New York Times bestselling author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reveals just how wrong we really are when it comes to improving our own lives. In the past decade, scholars have mined enormous datasets to find remarkable new approaches to life’s biggest self-help puzzles. Data from hundreds of thousands of dating profiles have revealed surprising successful strategies to get a date; data from hundreds of millions of tax records have uncovered the best places to raise children; data from millions of career trajectories have found previously unknown reasons why some rise to the top.

Telling fascinating, unexpected stories with these numbers and the latest big data research, Stephens-Davidowitz exposes that while we often think we know how to better ourselves, the numbers disagree.

Hard facts and figures consistently contradict our instincts and demonstrate self-help that works — whether it involves the best time in life to start a business or how happy it makes us to skip a friend’s birthday party for a night of Netflix on the couch. From the boring careers that produce the most wealth to the old-school, data-backed relationship advice so well-worn it’s become a literal joke, he unearths the startling conclusions that the right data can teach us about who we are and what will make our lives better.

Lively, engrossing and provocative, the end result opens up a new world of self-improvement made possible with massive troves of data. Packed with fresh, entertaining insights, Don’t Trust Your Gut redefines how to tackle our most consequential choices, one that hacks the market inefficiencies of life and leads us to make smarter decisions about how to improve our lives. Because in the end, the numbers don’t lie. — Amazon

 

EDITOR’S MUST-HAVES

#FeelTheGame — the OWO Game haptic vest

Want to know what it feels like to get hurt or feel the speed of fast-paced driving in a video game? You now can with the OWO Game haptic vest, which will enhance your VR experience.

The Spanish gaming company has developed and patented its sensations technology, which allows gamers to feel over 30 different sensations including gunshots, punches, being stabbed, the wind and even a hug from a loved one.

Within the vest are high conductivity electrodes that use electrical impulses to bring your muscles various sensations. If you are being punched in-game, the vest will send an impulse to the entire electrode, reports TechRadar.

The vest is expected to have eight-hour battery life and is chargeable using a USB Type-C. It will connect to your headset via Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi. The vest will also come in a variety of sizes from XXS to XL.

Given that not everyone has the same pain tolerance, OWO’s app will allow users to customise the vest. Users can adjust the intensity of various sensations and control which part of the body they want or don’t want to be affected. According to OWO, users can “customise the intensity of each micro-sensation in every muscle”.

Interestingly, you don’t exactly need a VR set at home to enjoy these features as the OWO vest is compatible with all devices. This means that you can also have the same experience by playing games on your mobile phone.

Set to launch later this year, the OWO vest is already compatible with a few fan-favourite games such as Fortnite, Rocket League and Valorant.

The haptic vest is currently available for pre-order via https://owogame.com/preorder/ and will retail for US$450 upon release to the public.

 

“Social media platforms routinely remove graphic content that glorifies violence or human suffering or could lead to further perpetrations of violence, and have rightfully implemented graphic content policies to protect their users. However, we are concerned that the processes by which social media platforms take down or block this content — including through automated and artificial intelligence-enabled systems — can result in the unintentional removal and permanent deletion of content that could be used as evidence of potential human rights violations such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”

Members of the US Congress — Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, Stephen Lynch and William Keating — have urged the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter to archive any content uploaded to their platforms that could be used as evidence of Russian war crimes.

The four representatives are calling on these platforms to preserve and archive potentially useful content for an extended period; coordinate with international human rights organisations to develop a legal, established way to share such content; increase transparency around automated content moderation systems and how they interface with war content; and create a way for users to flag content that they think might contain evidence of war crimes.