Asia's tech news, weekly: February 28th 2023
India & semiconductors, Japan's Digital Yen, China's ChatGPT censorship, electric trucks for Australia, genomics in Indonesia, Hong Kong and stablecoins...
• Japan: Central bank to launch CBDC pilot to test a 'digital yen' in April, although only simulated transactions to occur during pilot stage
• Taiwan and Lithuania ink MOU around laser tech with plans for a Taiwan R&D and innovation center, to boost exchanges and explore industry cooperation
• India and Singapore link UPI and PayNow digital payments, enabling instant and low-cost cross-border transfers, valued at more than $1BN annually
"...fintech was the top startup category in Thailand in 2022...followed by e-commerce and business solutions...fintech sector accounts for 60% of total capital funding since 2020."
• Australia: Vic gov't now auditing security cameras at gov't-owned sites to identify China state-owned companies, with replacement likely over espionage concerns
• China: Nio electric vehicles maker to build 1000 battery-swap stations countrywide this year, upping national total to 2300
• India: MindGrove Technologies semiconductor startup secures $2.3M seed funding led by Sequoia Capital India with focus on System-on-Chips design and manufacture
• China: Price war emerges as business segments overlap, with JD e-commerce giant rising to Pinduoduo challenge, and Douyin's (TikTok) challenge to Meituan and Alibaba
• India: Uber inks Tata Motors deal to induct 25K electric vehicles into its fleet, partnering fleet operators nationally for roll-out
• Download: 'Genomics - Leapfrogging into the Indonesian healthcare future' from East Ventures VC firm (pdf)
AI in the workplace: "A January survey of 300 human resources leaders at US companies revealed that 98% of them say software and algorithms will help them make layoff decisions this year."
• Vietnam: Aura Network NFT platform raised $4M, aiming for an 'Internet of NFTs'
• ‘How Hong Kong Is Gearing Up to Regulate Stablecoins', via CoinDesk
• Hong Kong: Singapore's DBS bank group to apply for HK crypto trading services licence, responding to HK’s bid to become a digital assets hub
• Singapore: Cube Asia raises $1.5M seed funding with online retail insights for brands, firms & investors, improving decisions on investments and new products
• A range of cybersecurity-focused startups to watch in 2023 including Australia's SharePass, providing end-to-end encryption in confidential data transfers
• Hong Kong: Securities & Futures Commission proposes rules for virtual asset trading, seeking comment on customer services and protections
"Regulators have told major Chinese tech companies not to offer ChatGPT services to the public amid growing alarm in Beijing over the AI-powered chatbot's uncensored replies to user queries..."
• China: A quick overview of the growth of ChatGPT-like AI services in China
• Australia: An intro to SharePass, providing confidentiality in communications with end-to-end encryption
• Thailand: Stripe payments giant corporate VC arm of Bank of Ayudhya and 500 Startups' Thai arm to help startups scale locally and globally
• Australia: ULUU, combating climate change by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere using seaweed material and microbial fermentation to create bioplastics
• China: Regulators block access to ChatGPT, in part over inability to censor references to Xinjiang human rights violations, Taiwan issues and more
• Australia: Volvo and GEODIS launch pilot program aiming for first fully electric truck in the Australian market, focusing on metro areas and a 200km range
India: "There are up to 50 incubators and 7,200 startups operating in [Uttar Pradesh]. An arrangement for Rs 100 crore has been made for seed funds to promote incubators..."
• Australia: $1M AgTech Grants Program launches, to provide $50K grants to 20 emerging agri-tech startups
• Download: 2022 Annual Metaverse Virtual Real Estate Report, from Parcel
• Australia: Monash University adds Transact's NFC-enabled ID system for students, faculty and staff, with ID storage via Apple Wallet or Google Wallet
• Taiwan: Food courier robot to start 10-month trial at Kaohsiung Software Park, delivering orders from 7-Eleven to 3 nearby buildings
• Malaysia: First 2 cohorts of 24 founders for 100Soonicorns program have been selected, gaining mentoring, networks, support and more
• China: Alibaba reportedly reduced its workforce by 19K in COVID-challenged 2022, although it remains one of the largest private employers
Two US-based international tech firms to invest around $98M in Taiwan for R&D to accelerate manufacture of 2-nanometer process wafers locally
• Immersve web3 startup partners Mastercard to allow NZ and Australia-based customers to purchase directly from Ethereum crypto wallets
• Hong Kong earmarks over $471M in new funding to boost bid for tech hub status
• South Korea: Croft gains seed funding with AI-based 'smart farm' solutions, monitoring and optimizing greenhouse systems
• Malaysia's Petronas FutureTech 3 accelerator program opens Asia Pacific region applications for first intake drawn from outside Malaysia
• Australia: Gov't to appoint a Coordinator for Cyber Security, and new agency, with new authority to protect the nation from cyber-attacks
• Indonesia: Sirclo ecommerce services firm secures $30M focusing on software-as-a-service, parenting, and corner stores
Semiconductors: "The former employee, who was based in China, was identified as having potential ties to a Chinese state-sponsored entity and stealing the data on its behalf..."
• Vietnam: Netflix reportedly preparing to open Vietnam office, set to become the first major US tech firm with a Vietnam footprint
• India: An intro to Banyan Nation, sustainability startup turning plastic waste into FMCG bottles
• Australia: 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy Discussion Paper available now, and open for submissions from the Australian public
In other news…
» NASA using generative AI to design mission hardware - 'evolved structures' - with algorithms sometimes lightening component weight by a full 2/3
» Coinbase announces testnet launch of its own Base blockchain, Ethereum Layer 2 network for building decentralized apps on-chain
» Asset tokenization 101, the process of converting physical or digital assets into digital tokens on a distributed ledger or blockchain
» Mercedes-Benz partners Google for all-in-one software in cars with automated driving sensors, feeling Tesla and China competition
» European Commission bans TikTok from employee phones, and personal phones if they have an EU app on it, citing cybersecurity concerns
» Spotify music streaming giant is testing new 'token-enabled playlists', allowing NFT holders to connect wallets and listen to community-curated music
"The document, written for Putin's Presidential Administration, envisages the total incorporation of Belarus into a 'Union State' with Russia by 2030."