Fairy Tale

ID police officer Hans Simangunsong and YouTuber XueLing ('snow spirit') perform a duet cover of 2005 Taiwan hit song Tong Hua ('fairy tale') in a home video made using social music app Smule. Top marks for effort and art.

Fintech Updates

Database Triggers
  • In a previous post, we suggested a blockchain could be thought of as a 'secure database'. But what about blockchain's smart contracts?
  • Databases have a similar concept in the form of triggers. Example: a card purchase of $100 (trigger) causes 10 points to be added to the bonus account (triggered action).
  • Another (theoretical) illustration is a digital bank that offers money management by having salary deposits trigger auto fund allocations. Say, 5% fixed deposit, 5% investment, 5% emergency fund or insurance, 5% education and hobbies, 30% ewallet (for meals etc), 50% lodging & transport.

Smart Contracts
  • While database triggers are similar to if-then-else logic, smart contracts are broader-based by being able to link to events in the external world. Example: upon buying an ebook, the ebook reader app may automatically trigger epayment when more than 10 pages of the book are read.
  • Smart contracts work better with digital plays than physical ones. To illustrate: upon buying an item of clothing, delivery of the package may not be considered sufficient to release payment, fit and and finish will need to be confirmed as well.

  • Speaking of blockchains and digital banks, EU's 5AMLD (5th AML directive) came into force a couple of weeks back (10 Jan 2020).
  • One of the main thrusts of the directive is to require cryptos and crypto exchanges to implement KYC and KYT (know your customer and transaction) similar to banks. [Ditto US' proposed CA2020.]
  • For more on KYC and digital banks, check out 'Digital Bank eKYC' below.

Latest Fintech Updates
  • Google - Enters banking business by offering deposit accounts
  • Visa - Buys plumber for Venmo, TransferWise, Coinbase [post image]
  • Libra - Takes next steps in revving up development
  • ZA Bank - Offers 6% interest rate for deposits
  • Alipay - Expands to Austria, WeChatPay to Indonesia

Pick of Events (W5-Jan-2020)

Link Digital Bank eKYC @ KL tix
Link Zero to One @ KC 1 2
Link Industry Briefings @ KL 1 2 3
Link Startup Landscape @ KL
Link JD Store Intro @ KL tix

Arts & Misc
Link Self Publishing @ KL
Link Data Privacy Day @ KL vid
Link Symphony Circle @ KL tix

Around The Region
Link 21st Century Digital @ BKK tix
Link Humanitarian Tech @ JKT tix
Link Addictive Apps @ HK tix
Link IoT Accelerator @ SG
Link Slow Quantum @ SG

British Humour

Brexit is happening end of the month (Friday, 31 Jan 2020). Whether it will be UK's (next) finest hour or fluffiest venture, there will always be Brit humour to soothe the journey.

If High Street Shopping Was Like Online Shopping
Has 'online' gotten too far ahead of itself? This humorously perceptive video cleverly examines the topic by the use of offline analogies. Though short and made-for-social-media, the video showcases some fine acting and scripting.

Leading Lady Parts
Actors and actresses interview (audition) for roles in films by acting out (reading) a script in the presence of a casting panel which may include the director, producer and casting director. In the process, the thespians may face all manner of 'discrimination'. This darkishly comedic video features Emilia Clarke, Stacy Martin, Felicity Jones, Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan, Lena Headey, Wunmi Mosaku, Katie Leung and Thomas Hiddleston in double acting roles (actors playing actors). Making up the panel is Gemma Arterton, Catherine Tate and Anthony Welsh.

Volume Control
If you are reading this post from a desktop or laptop, because the embedded videos are smaller in size, the volume controls are inaccessible via the mouse. If necessary, you can raise or lower the volume by the use of the up or down cursor keys.

One Degree

InnoVenture Salon is an event of the International Financial Week happening 13-17 Jan 2020 @ HK [tix @ networking pass]. Sample pitching startups:

One way to think of a blockchain is that it is a secure database which can be used for situations where multiple parties need a common database without having to assign trust or control to a single party. A recurrent use case is in cross-border transactions among loosely allied parties. In a situations like this, the hard work is getting all members to agree to a standard and SOP. The choice of database, whether blockchain or otherwise, is just one element in a much larger set of considerations. To delve further into the topic of blockchains, check out 'Blockchain Week' in the listings below.

Pick of Events (W4-Jan-2020)

Link Logistics Outlook @ KL tix
Link Decentralised Finance @ CJ tix
Link Data Visualisation @ KL
Link Continuous Delivery @ KL
Link Product Hunt @ KL pitch

Arts & Misc
Link Sentimental Poetry @ KL tix
Link Hand Colored Photos @ KL
Link Billie Eilish @ KL v1 v2
Link Spargo Mills @ CJ info
Link Rice Wine @ KL

Around The Region
Link Multi-Tenant SaaS @ SG tix
Link 5G Green Society @ SG tix
Link Graph Database @ BKK tix
Link Global Fintech @ JKT tix
Link Liberland @ HK info

Blockchain Week
Link Blockchain Week @ VN tix
Link Blockchain Week @ HK tix
Link Blockchain Week @ KR tix
Link Blockchain Week @ UK tix

Picks: MWC | CES

After CES 2020, the next big global tech event is MWC 2020 happening 24-27 Feb @ Barcelona. Sample topics and 2019 awardees (the 2020 shortlist has not been released yet) follow, followed by a recap of CES 2020 debuts that caught the eye of the tech press, one of which is the Insta360 camera shown on the left.


  • HamburgPort - First large scale industrial 5G installation [5G Award]
  • C-V2X - Assisted driving before autonomous [1] [Best Automotive]
  • BubbleCloud - Private LTE network, for extra speed, security [CTO's Choice]
  • GeniePay - Confirm epayment with voice, no PIN needed [Best Fintech]
  • UbaMarket - An app for offline, supermarket shopping [Best Commerce]
  • Night Sight - Low light photography [Disruptive Device]
  • Aquto - Mobile data sponsorship [Best Emerging Markets]
  • JioCricket - Predict cricket matchplay and win points [Best Mobile Marketing]

Best of CES 2020 1 2 3 4 5
  • S-Pod - A Segway that you sit on
  • Suunto - Smartwatch with 70+ sports mode, offline maps, Wear OS
  • Sero - Vertical TV (for vertical smartphone videos)
  • TCL - 5G smartphone challenger
  • Quibi - Netflix for GenZ (mobile first, shorter films)
  • Linksys - Use WiFi signals to monitor intrusion, falls, heartbeat
  • Kishi - Smartphone game controller
  • V-Coptr - Two rotor drone (vs standard four or more): quieter, longer range
  • Insta360 - 360° action camera

[1] Assisted vs Autonomous Driving
Fully autonomous driving could be some time away (like 10 years). What could arrive sooner is assisted or hybrid driving. The vehicle enforces essential rules (see below), the human driver does the rest.
  • No distracted driving (texting, phoning etc)
  • No under the influence (alcohol, drugs)
  • No impaired driving (sleepy, drowsy etc)
  • No unqualified driving (without driving license or insurance)
  • No traffic light running, no tail gating
  • Vehicle enforced speed limits
  • Vehicle enforced lane limits (no queue jumping. no middle lane slow poking)
  • Auto collision avoidance (already available with premium vehicles)
  • Auto ticketing for traffic and parking offences

Digital Tax | Night Shift

Night Shift
  • The city works round the clock. 24 hour businesses include hotels, NSK supermarkets, convenience stores KK, 7-11, FamilyMart and MyNews, eateries like mamak joints, petrol stations, hospitals, and multi-shift factories.
  • Similarly, the jungles and forests have their night ecosystems too with entire casts of nocturnal fauna. To find out more about animals that do night shift, check out 'Mysterious Forests' below.
  • Post images: MY stamps of nocturnal animals: Asian Golden Cat (kucing tulap) and Moonrat (tikus ambang bulan) via Ainul Mardziah.

Digital Taxes
What's the difference between MY's digital tax, sales tax and withholding tax? [From a query floating around the internet.]
  • Digital Tax This is a 6% tax on the revenue of big tech which big tech passes straight to customers. When you buy $100 [$=generic currency symbol] of ads from Facebook (or Google or TikTok). Facebook will bill you $100 + $6 = $106.
  • Sales Tax This is like a value added tax. You bought the $106 of Facebook ads for a digital campaign that you are running for a client for which you charge $1000 (for optimisation, setup etc). When you bill your client, you add a 6% Sales Tax, thus billing $1000 + $60 = $1060.
  • Withholding Tax Instead of doing the tech stuff yourself, you outsource it to a tech worker in Papua for $300. Since the tech worker does not pay local taxes, you will need to collect 10% withholding tax. You remit $300 to the foreign worker and $30 to the income tax department.
The above illustration is in general only and is not tax advice. Consult your accountant. ERP supplier or regulator for actual details. But there is at least one more tax you will need to be cater for if you sell globally: sales tax at the destination country [eg ID, TH, CN]. To find out more about international taxes, check out 'Global Sales Taxes' below.

Pick of Events (W3-Jan-2020)

Link Global Sales Taxes @ KL tix
Link Mysterious Forests @ KL tix
Link Fave Razer Outlook @ KL tix
Link Making Music Videos @ KC tix
Link Education Symposium @ KL tix

Arts & Misc
Link Coffee Philosophy @ KL tix
Link Open-Mic Reading @ KL
Link Finding Funding @ KL
Link Jazz Piano Fest @ KL
Link Humans of KL @ KL

Around The Region
Link Geopolitics 2020 @ HK
Link Amazon re:Invent @ JKT
Link Industry Blockchain @ JKT
Link Smart Recommender @ JKT
Link Contemporary Art @ SG also

Electrical Dreams

Electrical Dreams
  • RAW Art Space is hosting an electronica concert titled 'Electric Dreams Vol 8' this Friday @ KL [ poster | tix ] featuring AfterArt. Tsa Meera, Rastko Lazić and Notorische Ruhestörung.
  • Looks like an opportunity to showcase the retro hit 'Together in Electric Dreams' (1985), updated and covered by rock band Mechanical Black (2011).
  • Although the video has some alt elements (eg. cross dressing), it is mostly a wholesome, tongue-in-cheek tale of nerdy assistants in a quantum computing lab who turn into metal rockers after being struck by lightning.
  • Amazingly, the video producers managed to secure a stellar cast of computer luminaries to appear in pop-up cameos, including Guido Van Rossum (Python), James Gosling (Java), John Resig (jQuery) and Elonka Dunin (IDGA).

The Rodent Year

Outlook for The Year of The Rat ['zoodiac', for fun only]
  • The Rodent order of mammals include rats, mice, hamsters, squirrels, beavers and chipmunks, all marked by having prominent front incisors.
  • According to eastern folklore, the rat is characterised by being thrifty, industrious and nocturnal.
  • Nocturnal could be the operative word with mamak joints (roadside budget cafes) up for roaring business as Euro2020 and Tokyo2020 go on show in June and July respectively.
  • Market trends wise, the rat is cautious while the mice is curious. Does folklore refer to the rat or the mice? Hint: famous 'rat' personalities: Avril Lavigne, Scarlett Johansson, Prince Harry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook.

Pick of Spring Festival Videos
  • Rat-related pop icons include Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Jerry of Tom and Jerry, Dilbert's Ratbert, Remy Ratatouille and Speedy Gonzales.
  • Speaking of Speedy, our Spring Festival video pick [post video] goes to Giovanni Inserra's cover of Speedy Gonzales' theme song, for its upbeat tempo and the visual of a lady dressed in festive colours.
  • Honourable mention goes to County Youngster, YouTuber Feng Timo's rocking rendition of a Fujian (Hokkien) song exhorting young people to work hard to make good any decision they make.
  • Happy Spring Festival!

ZABank | SOCar

This post covers some latest developments in digital banks and new mobility.

ZA Bank

Second Wave Digital Banks

Features of ZA Bank
  • Clean interface, clear features.
  • Onboard with a scan of HK identity card.
  • Deposit in HKD, CNY or USD.
  • Fixed deposits as low as $1 with 1, 3, 6, 12 months terms.
  • Interest rate: deposits (~2%), loans (~8%).
  • 'Undo' transaction (within 5 seconds).

SO Car

On Demand Electric Rides

In Other Mobility News
  • NYC - Proposes 2 new mayors: one for bikes, the other for pedestrians.
  • LA - Announces urban mobility incubator: UML.
  • LA - Mulls demanding Uber and Lyft go all-electric.
  • CES - Hyundai to demo personal air vehicle.
  • EU - Strict emission rules start today; bonus for car sales staff.

Autonomous Identity

Autonomous Identity
In a previous post, we speculated on a minimalist identity card which gives away little or no information except for one-time identity numbers which are authenticated by central servers. What we if we go further and remove the need for central servers, thus making the identity card (or app) autonomous of a central authority?

Scouts and Guides
But how would such a 'serverless' identity service work? Conceptually, one way would be like the badges of scouts and guides. For a scout, the uniform is the identity substrate and the badges sown on it. the credentials. Examples of scout badges are camping, climbing, first aid, life saving [post video] and woodworking. If a scout is interviewing for a life saver post at a swimming pool, he could wear his uniform with his life saver badge as an initial proof of his capabilities.

Identity Tokens
What if the license to drive, passport to travel and attestations of learning are badges too? This could be implemented as an identification ecosystem similar to distributed cryptos with badges as non-fungible tokens. Thus, currency can be not only money but also essential credentials like a passport. The Ethereum community is having a meetup on autonomous identity on Thu, 9th Jan 2020, 7:30pm @ KL, see 'Self Sovereign' below.

Pick of Events (W2-Jan-2020)

Link Self Sovereign @ KL
Link PropFinTech @ KL tix
Link Ecommerce for Mfg @ KL
Link Steam Engines @ KL info
Link Financial Innovation @ KL

Link Poetry Meet @ KL
Link Broadway Walk @ KL
Link Western Philosophy @ KL
Link End of Decade Party @ KL tix
Link Viennese Revolution @ KL tix

Around The Region
Link EdTech Pitch @ HK
Link Data Engineers @ JKT tix
Link Artistic Negotiation @ HK
Link National AI Strategy @ SG tix
Link Scientific Comfort Food @ SG tix

Metropolis Design Winner

Design Competition
Indonesia has announced the winners of the design competition for its new capital. First place goes to Urban+ with a submission titled Nagara Rimba Nusa ('A Forested City for The Archipelago'). The second and third places, whose input will also be considered for the city design, was awarded to AntiStatics' The Infinite City and Veritas' Kota Seribu Galur ('City of a Thousand Threads').

Winning Pitch
The winning pitch is in poetry (post video) of which the first four lines read:
Ada satu hal yang patut betul kami sadari
Bahwa memang indah kepulauan kami ini
Menggugus berjajar indah alami
Di situlah letak kekuatan kami
Translation, with poetic license:
Let our awareness be
Our islands resplendent and pretty
Clusters of beads of natural beauty
Our beneficence in actuality

Industrial Design

Form vs Function
Industrial design is the design of products to arrive at form, function and manufacturability. There was a time when cars looked different: Lincoln (expansive), Volvo (staid), Beemer (teutonic), Mercs (elegant), Citroën (élan). Nowadays they tend to look alike in part due to a dominance of function over form eg. streamlined and rounded to minimise drag. For bike designers, drag is less of a concern, and with no 'skin' and little form to work with, attention falls on the details as in the headlight and handlebar assembly of the Kona Splice-E electric bike above.

Bespoke EVs & Zen Identities

Italian EV startup XEV was founded by an industrial designer. Its flagship product, YoYo, a 3-D printed, electric, 2-seat, city runabout sees touches of design thinking:

  • The skin (panels, dashboard, trim) of the car is customisable and changeable.
  • Customers can pick a factory, third party or own design.
  • Third party design store to be available (like wordpress themes marketplace).

  • The batteries can be charged or swapped.
  • A mobile battery swapping service will be offered.
  • For situations where charging facilities can't be found or are occupied.

  • Car printed in 3 days (just slightly longer than standard factory production)
  • No moulds, stamping or production line required, thus saving costs
  • Only 57 parts vs up to 30,000 in standard cars

  • Micro EVs like YoYo could be in a race with self-driving cars.
  • If vehicle is almost like a bike, there would be less need for self-driving.
  • EVs and self-driving could be accelerated with municipal help: eg. only micro EVs and self-driven vehicles allowed into the city centre during the day.

SSenStone is working on advanced identification systems. There is a trend of credit cards to not show its number, only the card holder's name and issuer. What if we apply this principle to identity cards and be even more radical by removing even the name, with only the issuer ('country') and purpose ('identity card') printed on the card.

What Does It Solve
  • Folks loaded with loans by the use of a photocopy of their ID.
  • Data leaks showing names, ID numbers, addresses, phones, email.
  • Scammer, spam calls, lost ID cards reused, and many other issues.

How Does It Work I
  • When you apply for a phone service using your numberless ID card, a one-time, generated ID number is given to the phone company, and nothing else. If you apply for a phone service at another telco, it will be given another one-time ID number.
  • The telco sends this ID number to a server (government or third party) that validates it confirming that you are a citizen and not barred from phones.
  • You may optionally release more info but by default the telco cannot ask for more or deny you the service or degrade it if you do not wish to give up any more info.

How Does It Work II
  • You are to sit for an exam and your identity needs to be checked.
  • Without a photo or name in your ID card, how could the invigilator do this?
  • Via a handheld reader that can read the numberless ID card and which can verify your thumbprint and additionally show your photo and name for the invigilator to do a double check.

  • The numberless, nameless and photoless ID card above is a thought exercise.
  • There are many practical issues to be ironed out if it is really used this way.

Consumer Electronics 2020


Sample startups from tech and startup events happening early January 2020. For event details (except CES), see the listings below.

CES (7-10 Jan 2020 @ US) info
  • XEV YoYo - 3D printed car priced at USD 6,700
  • HiRide - Electronic hydraulic suspension for bicycles
  • Keymo - Bringing ink stamps (chops) into the digital age
  • PlantyCube - Modular, lego-like system for urban farmers
  • BotBoxer - Digital version of 'Ip Man Wooden Dummy'

FinTech Salon (13-14 Jan 2020 @ HK)
  • SSenStone - Dynamic ID number | token only logins (no usernames, pwds)
  • NFCTouch - NFC smart packaging for authentication, security, IoT tracking
  • Apoidea - Extract information from PDFs, annual reports
  • KeyCchainPay - Add rental payments to credit card rewards
  • Kristal - ETF (exchange-traded fund) investment app

Rice Bowls (15-16 Jan 2020 @ KL)
  • EyeQ - Computer vision for recognising actions, objects, emotions, faces
  • Frogs - Air mobility for Jakarta's notorious jams
  • VillageLink - App to get expert agri-advice
  • BigAgent - Turn free time into money time
  • YouAdMe - Your customers are your best advertisers

Pick of Events (W1-Jan-2020)

Link Rice Bowls @ KL tix
Link On Demand Staff @ KL tix
Link Fintech Pavilion @ PTJ
Link Boba Fest @ KL
Link Fan Fiction @ KL tix

Around The Region
Link Fintech Salon @ HK tix
Link RegTech Meet @ HK
Link Design Think @ HK
Link Bayesian Statistics @ SG
Link Robot Revolution @ SG

Hyderabad Biryani

Hyderabad Biryani
Watch as the owner of Mr Biryani (SG) presents his signature dish Hyderabad Biryani. Credit to the filmmaker for getting the owner at ease enough to tell his story and for keeping the video substantial yet succinct.

Pav Bhaji
This fast-paced video introduces a home cooked version of Pav Bhaji (IN), a popular street dish. Made from potatoes, tomatoes, peas, capsicums, onions, spices and butter, these are turned into a rich gruel to accompany bread (and perhaps rice too).

For the Pav Bhaji video: 1) Pav Bhaji Masala can be substituted with curry powder, Kasuri Methi with coriander leaves 2) The red colouring can totally be left out 3) Here's how Pav Bhaji is cooked on the street.

PayFo Digital Bank

A full-page ad in the MY press yesterday heralded Payfo, a fintech startup under PNMB (formerly the Government Printing Office). Payfo was launched in May 2019 but not much have been heard about it till now. Products teased include:

PayFo Products [descriptions are guesstimates]
  • PayFo - Digital bank (partner: VoltBank)
  • SubsPays - Cashless subsidy
  • OpenBills - Bill payment
  • Joy - Ecommerce
  • BePasar - E-Remiittance
  • Kredids - Microloans

The cashless subsidy (and digital bank) function looks interesting, could the proposed MYR 450 million e-payment incentive (due Jan 2020) be channelled through Payfo? Spreading the incentive across the major ewallets would be market friendly but having one channel would be useful too for the ease of: 1) standardising end-to-end SOP including eKYC 2) disbursement including avoiding double payment 3) data collection. Could the government printer be going from printing notes to issuing e-money? [Update: It's going through Khazanah and major ewallets. 1 2]

The New CoLiving

Planning to stay and work in KL for a week to a month? A hotel might be more suited for a short stay of a few days, while apartment rental requires a lease and a whole lot of other hassles. This is where coliving comes in: a flexibility in stay duration, plus a focus on travellers who might like a more relaxed work environment, or who might be on a startup (vs corporate) budget.

Komune Living, KL's first upmarket, co-living space had a soft launch around August 2019 (we think, did not notice any major publicity). Located in its own tower near KL Gateway @ Kerinchi, facilities include e-checkin, lounge, open kitchen and dining, outdoor BBQ, swimming pool, laundromat, gym, eateries and coworking space.

Based on an online check for a week's stay over the Xmas week, prices start from MYR 210 (USD 50) per room per day with a single bed and en suite bathroom, discounted to MYR 120 (USD 30) as an opening promo. Other options range to MYR 360 (USD 90) for a suite with twin queen size beds. By comparison, checks at Le Méridien and Stripes return quotes of around MYR 300-500 (USD 75-125), weekdays being higher priced than weekends. [Co-working space at Komune is an additional MYR 35 per day, if, for example, one needs to organise an extended client meeting or team scrum.]

SEA & Beyond
Previously, coliving spaces were more serviced or shared apartments, airbnb, motel, dorm or hostel in concept rather than a 'full stack' like Komune. Similar 'full stack' colving spaces: Hmlet, Lyf (SG) , The Nate (HK) [our radar did not pick up anything at JKT, BKK or MNL]. Further afield: The Collective (UK), WeLive (NYC), Roam (TKY), Colonies (PAR).

Digital Physical Retail

Quill City Mall and Smuzcity will be hosting a forum titled 'Future Proof Your Business: New Retail Innovations & Interventions' this Tuesday in conjunction with Quill's re-positioning as a digital-physical, online-to-offline O2O shopping destination. Among the first stores imagined under this concept is a Presto operated unmanned shop powered by JD tech. For event details, see 'Social Supermarket' below.

Pick of Events (W4-Dec-2019)

Link Social Supermarket @ KL tix
Link Base Conference @ JB tix
Link FB Developers @ PG tix
Link Startups 2020 @ KL tix also
Link Maxis Demo Day @ KL tix

Arts & Misc
Link Book Sales @ KL tix
Link Sound Explorer @ KL
Link Esports Xmas @ KL tix also
Link Teh Tarik @ KL tix also
Link Going Global @ BT also

Around The Region
Link Be Your Own Boss @ BKK tix
Link Postgrad Demo Day @ SG
Link Sustainable Dev @ SG
Link Micro Influencers @ JKT
Link Blockchain 2020 @ JKT

Xmas Canon

Our video pick for the Christmas season is a YouTuber's mix of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon Rock and visuals from the Finnish movie Joulutarina.

In the movie, Santa Claus is depicted as a boy, Nikolas, who was bought up by a village and thus regarded all the children in the village as his brothers and sisters. Each Christmas, he carves a toy for each child, and leaves it incognito at their doorstep. Over the years, even as the village grew and the children have their own families, Nikolas steadfastly maintains his practice.

Calendata will be taking an end-of-year break and shall return shortly. Wishing readers (an early) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Russian Robo-Lawyers

More startups from our intray [various sources, image: fb/teodor.ai]:
  • Cheddar - Media company for the young
  • CoBase - One portal, multiple banks
  • DuitHape - E-banking for the proletariat
  • Fastly - New CDN that is faster than Cloudflare and Akamai 1 2
  • GingkoBioworks - Use microbes to do manufacturing
  • iSpace - Business opportunities on the Moon (JP's first lunar mission)
  • PureWow - Lifestyle portal that does sales on the side
  • Puut - Ewallet for your money, cards, tickets, receipts, invoices
  • RevolutionFoods - Nutritious school meals
  • ShieldPay - Escrow assurance for large purchases eg. property
  • Teodor - Russian robo-lawyers