Author - etvtscp

The sun is not yet setting on Hong Kong

City should reinforce its value to both Beijing and the world.

Hong Kong finds itself in a new game in which it needs to consider the outstanding opportunities and demanding challenges it faces with an open mind. Over the past 150 years, the city has experienced many ups and downs but it has repeatedly played whatever cards it has been dealt exceptionally well. Can it continue to do so?

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Hong Kong Startup Raises $105 Million to Expand Lending Business

A Hong Kong startup called Oriente raised $105 million as it expands online lending operations in Southeast Asia and develops new products and technologies for markets like Indonesia and the Philippines.

Oriente was founded in 2017 by Skype Inc. co-founder Geoffrey Prentice, former Chief Operating Officer Hubert Tai, and Lawrence Chu, founder of BlackPine Group. It provides loans, often $50 to $100, to small businesses that would otherwise struggle to get money, and is racing to roll out additional financial services for the fragmented markets of Southeast Asia. Customers can apply for loans through a mobile app or offline.

The region’s lack of banking services and rapid adoption of smartphones has led to a surge in new startups and investments in recent years. Oriente’s funding comes from some of Southeast Asia’s wealthiest business families, including people involved in JG Summit Holdings Inc. in the Philippines, Indonesia’s Sinar Mas and Berjaya Group in Malaysia.

“We want to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit and let the middle class in these emerging markets get ahead,” Prentice said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

In the Philippines, Oriente formed a joint venture with JG Summit, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, and rolled out Cashalo, a mobile app that provides small loans to Filipinos. For a loan of between 2,000 pesos ($38) and 5,000 pesos, the company’s rates can be 3.95 percent a month, plus 4 percent processing fee. Though that works out to about 50 percent annual interest, it’s typically lower than what borrowers could get from other lenders.

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India extends $5 million aid to Myanmar for border development project

DHAKA: India has extended a $5 million aid to Myanmar as its assistance for development projects on the Indo-Myanmar border.

India’s Ambassador to Myanmar, Vikram Misri handed over a cheque of $5 million to Myanmar’s minister for border affairs, Lt General Ye Aung at a ceremony on Monday.

Under the 2012 Border Region Development agreement, Indian government is extending $5 million micro development assistance every year for five years for projects on India-Myanmar border.

“Friendship Project|Amb @VikramMisri handed over US$ 4.95 Million Ceremonial Cheque to Union Minister for Border Affairs, Lt. General Ye Aung as India’s assistance to Myanmar’s Border Area Development Project,” Misri tweeted.

India and Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding for border development in May 2012, under which India is to provide a total of $25 million to Myanmar, divided into five tranches of $5 million each.

Under the first year project plan, 21 schools, 17 health centres and eight bridges are being built in Chin State and Naga Self Administered Zone of Myanmar through Myanmar’s border affairs ministry, according the information available on the website of the Indian Embassy in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government is in the process of selecting contractors to execute the second year projects under which five road projects each would be completed in Chin and Naga Self-Administered Zone, it said.

Three schools would be also set in Chin state and eight in the Naga Self-Administered Zone, it added.

Myanmar shares around 1600 km border with four Northeastern Indian states?Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

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In Singapore, online shopping will soon be mostly mobile

By next year, more than half of Singapore’s online shoppers will be making purchases on their phones and iPads – four years ahead of the global average.

In 2019, 52 percent of online shoppers in Singapore will be on mobile devices, shows data from a new Worldpay report.

“With a penchant for shopping and some of the highest rates of smartphone penetration in the world, it’s no surprise that Singapore is a frontrunner in the global transition to mobile commerce,” says Worldpay’s Phil Pomford. “As Singapore’s intrepid and imaginative consumers continue to spark the next wave of shopping innovation, we will no doubt see more and more creative merchants tailor their offerings to address the demands of mobile shoppers.”

Between now and 2023, Singapore’s ecommerce spending will rise from US$5.6 billion to US$7.4 billion.

Ditch the purses and wallets

More and more Singaporeans will also be paying for things in malls using their phones as mobile wallet apps gain traction.

In-store phone payments in the city-state are set to rise from US$122 billion to US$149 billion in 2022, according to Worldpay.

GrabPay and Nets are among Singapore’s top wallet apps, as seen at this hawker center:

One proviso there: trend leader China is massively distorting those numbers – US$15 trillion was spent via phones there in 2017. That hides the fact much of the continent is lagging behind this global shift away from cash.

WorldPay’s 2018 Global Payments Report consists of 45,000 consumer surveys, plus numbers from studies by digital media company GlobalData and research firm McKinsey & Company.

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Japan to overhaul auto taxes as industry transforms

TOKYO — Japan is revamping its automotive tax system as soon as fiscal 2020 to impose levies based on mileage, as revolutions in green and sharing technologies squeeze revenue under the current framework.

Car owners are currently taxed according to their vehicles’ engine displacement, which is not an effective measure for electric and hybrid vehicles. The rise of car-sharing also means fewer people own cars at all.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner Komeito are expected to draft a plan in mid-December that will tax cars based on mileage and weight instead, so the government does not lose out on vehicles that are on the road.

Japan currently has three types of auto taxes. Owners pay a 3% tax on the purchase price when they buy a car, an annual automobile tax based on engine displacement and a weight tax at inspections required once every two years.

The change will apply to the annual tax, which now comes to 34,500 yen ($303) a year on cars with engines between 1 liter and 1.5 liters in volume, for example. The amount changes with every half-liter.

Japan has been trying to push more consumers to adopt environmentally friendly vehicles through tax incentives, which in turn have encouraged innovation in the industry. But basing the tax structure on usage rather than ownership could stall such innovation. Critics say the government ultimately decided to value its revenue over technological advancement.

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Malaysian MP ”Concerned About Threat” from Cryptocurrencies

Lim Guan Eng, the finance minister of Malaysia, has warned individuals and companies planning to issue new cryptocurrencies with a stern: “don’t do it”. Addressing parliament on Nov. 26, Guan Eng advised to wait for legal guidance from Bank Negara Malaysia, the southeast Asian country’s central bank.

Wait for Central Bank Guidance

“Don’t do it without Bank Negara’s guidelines or directive on the matter to avoid doing something wrong and against the law,” Guan told parliament on Monday. He was responding to a legislator who wanted to know what government was doing to prevent cryptocurrencies from allegedly causing “problems” for the local fiat unit, the ringgit.

One of the more common ways to create a new virtual currency is through fund-raising models such Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). It might be that the Malaysia finance minister was speaking with that in mind, especially considering how a number of ICOs throughout the world have shipwrecked, turning out to be nothing more than just elaborate scams.

“We need to be cautious as Bank Negara is the authority that handles and manages all forms of new currency technology,” online newspaper The Star Online quoted Guan as saying. The finance minister said government was open to emerging forms of money such as virtual currency but only if they adhere to the law.

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are not recognized as legal tender in Malaysia, but they aren’t banned either. That means individuals or companies trading cryptocurrency are free to do so, but are not protected by law. However, under the legislation governing money laundering, all crypto asset exchanges operating in Malaysia are subject to its reporting obligations.

During the same parliamentary session, an MP demanded explanation over the “harapan coin”, alleging it had clandestinely raised money without approval from the Malaysia central bank.

“Although it is a new initiative and has yet to get approval, it was reported that the coin is being traded at $45 for 100 units and has since collected $772,” charged the MP.

The harapan coin is an initiative of Khalid Samad, the country’s Federal Territories Minister, who is aiming to use the token to raise political funding for Malaysia’s ruling party, Pakatan Harapan, in preparation for the 2019 general elections. Samad said he had submitted documents of the harapan coin to Bank Negara for approval.

What do you think about the Malaysian finance minister’s position on cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Malaysia offers Qatar opportunities in food processing, healthcare

Malaysia, which is expanding its halal industry, wants Qatar to participate in investment opportunities in the Southeast Asian country’s food processing sector, according Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Ismail made the announcement during a high-level meeting organised yesterday by the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) where she and her accompanying delegation met with QBA chairman HE Sheikh Fasial bin Qassim al-Thani and Qatar Chamber first vice chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari, as well as other QBA officials and members.

Aside from food processing, Ismail also encouraged Qatar to participate in the Southeast Asian country’s projects in the tourism and hospitality, aerospace, agriculture, healthcare, and industrial and manufacturing sectors.

In her speech, the deputy prime minister affirmed Malaysia’s keenness to develop economic relations with Qatar, pointing to the multiple visits organised by business delegations from Malaysia to Doha in 2018.

On the Malaysian economy, Ismail said the country’s industrial sector contributes 36.8% of the national income with industries representing an important pillar to the Malaysian trade revenue, such as electronics and electrical appliances that represents 24.5% of the sector.
She also noted that Malaysia is widely known for its medical tourism sector and that most of hospitals that cater to medical tourists are private sector institutions that follow internationally-recognised standards in healthcare.

In his opening address, Sheikh Faisal spoke on the historical relations between Qatar and Malaysia, and lauded Malaysia for becoming an important investment destination with a strong and diversified economy and the fastest growing economy in South East Asia.
The QBA chairman also praised Malaysia’s robust Islamic banking sector, which ranks third globally, and as one of the largest Islamic banking sectors in the world.

Al-Kuwari also delivered a speech where he addressed the need to strengthen co-operation relations and study the investment opportunities between businessmen in both countries.

Responding the a query by QBA member, Dr Hussein al-Abdullah, a member of the Malaysian delegation said the country’s growth rate reached 5.8% in 2018, adding that indicators forecast an increase to exceed 6% next year.

On upcoming projects, the delegation said the Malaysian government prioritises industrial projects, such as food manufacturing, which accounts for 10% of the industrial sector, as well as the manufacturing of electronics and electrical appliances.

Other QBA members in attendance included Nasser al-Haider, Maqbool Khalfan, and Ihsan al-Khayami. Joining them are Sheikh Khalid bin Nawaf al-Thani and QBA deputy general manager Sarah Abdullah. The Malaysian delegation was accompanied by Malaysian ambassador Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.

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