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Cloud-first bank: Standard Chartered, Microsoft team up

Standard Chartered’s digital transformation into a cloud-first bank will enable it to offer new banking experiences.
Standard Chartered’s digital transformation into a cloud-first bank will enable it to offer new banking experiences.

Standard Chartered Bank and Microsoft have announced a three-year strategic partnership to accelerate the bank’s digital transformation through a cloud-first strategy. This will allow it to leverage Microsoft Azure in its bid to become a cloud-first bank.

This partnership marks a significant milestone for Standard Chartered in making its vision for virtual banking, next-generation payments, open banking, and banking-as-a-service a reality. Leveraging Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform, the companies will also co-innovate in open banking and real-time payments to help the bank unlock new banking experiences for clients. 

“Cloud is a cornerstone of Standard Chartered’s strategy to meet the present and future banking needs of our clients. Cloud providers have invested massively in the reliability and automation of infrastructure and platforms. Using cloud services improves our ability to be agile and innovative, while increasing our operational efficiency and resilience. As disruption in the financial industry continues, we can focus on client benefits by deploying our solutions quicker and allowing for faster integration of new business models and partners. To realize our digital ambitions, Standard Chartered has chosen Microsoft as a strategic partner and this partnership marks a major milestone for the bank in adopting a cloud-first approach,” said Standard Chartered Group Chief Information Officer Michael Gorriz in a press statement.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Impact Hackathon: Why the geeks shall inherit the earth

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The COVID-19 pandemic is the asteroid that will finally make the dinosaurs extinct. And by dinosaurs I mean individuals and companies who still refuse to embrace digital. I truly believe this. Which is why I’m happy that Impact Hub Manila (IHM) is bringing back Impact Hackathon to create genuine change in society. This year’s Impact Hackathon will be held virtually on Aug. 17-21. It aims to reboot the economy through inclusive digital innovations in five verticals. These include climate change, education, food and agriculture, health and wellness, and smart cities.

Only those who are still in denial think that things will “go back to normal”. The COVID-19 pandemic is the end of the world as we know it. It is a turning point in human history that has accelerated digital transformation. So don’t listen to the dinosaurs. Don’t listen to the defenders of the status quo who want to go back to doing the same things. Instead of using this disruption as an opportunity to build a better post-pandemic world. Not just the new normal, but a better normal.

“I am very optimistic and I truly believe that technology is the great enabler. It has completely democratized a lot of things that we’re doing,” IHM Founder and CEO Ces Rondario said in response to a question from Digital Life Asia in the press briefing.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Edusuite platform keeps schools running amid pandemic

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As I’ve previously mentioned in this column, education is very dear to my heart. That’s why I was happy to learn that Philippine startup Edusuite aims to help improve the educational system here with its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered school management system for
K-12 to college. This allows schools to focus less on administration and more on education.

Now, I’m a techno-optimist and a big believer in AI. I love Edusuite’s vision of having AI co-manage the school together with human administrators. Otherwise, as Edusuite Co-founder and President Niel Dagondon pointed out at the press briefing on July 29, you are using software but still just manually administering the school. But how challenging is it to get school officials to adopt this mindset and allow AI to co-manage?

“I have to admit that it’s not going to be a fast process. Sometimes we launch Edusuite with a school and it takes them sometimes as much as two years to enable all the features that Edusuite has. And what we did is to make it in a way that we can turn off the AI-specific features one by one. So if a school does not trust the system to do the AI at the start, they’ll be able to do the planning their way. For example, if they don’t want the student advising module to automatically advise the student, they can just turn it off and have someone on the backend manually approve each time a student would take a certain number of subjects. So it’s not going to be automatic, that as soon as they implement Edusuite, all the AI features are turned on,” Dagondon said.

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Technology

First cybersecurity insurance for SMEs launched in PH

As more businesses embrace digital transformation and remote work becomes the new normal, investing in cybersecurity is more important than ever. Recognizing this, insurance technology (insurtech) startup Saphron has launched the first cybersecurity insurance for SMEs in the Philippines.

As more businesses embrace digital transformation and remote work becomes the new normal, investing in cybersecurity is more important than ever. Recognizing this, insurance technology (insurtech) startup Saphron has launched the first cybersecurity insurance for SMEs in the Philippines.

The insurtech startup’s newest offering is called Cyber Insurance and Breach Response for SMEs, or CYBRIS for short. CYBRIS is a cybersecurity insurance policy that protects a business from financial losses arising from a data breach or a cyber attack.

“In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to say that you’re in business but you don’t utilize technology. No matter what sort of business you’re in, it’s very unlikely that you will not come across data or information about the client. And there is an insurance policy [to protect] that,” said Saphron CEO Lorenzo Chan Jr. said in a press statement.

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Technology

Cloud is a tool, not a strategy, says IBM Cloud SVP

Howard Boville, Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud, says cloud is a tool that improves the productivity of critical business processes. Image credit: IBM News Room
Howard Boville, Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud, says cloud is a tool that improves the productivity of critical business processes. Image credit: IBM News Room

Forget the hype surrounding cloud strategy. Howard Boville, Senior Vice President of IBM Cloud, reminded enterprises that cloud is a tool to help implement their actual business strategy.

Enterprises should not embrace cloud computing thinking that the end goal is simply to be in the cloud. Instead, they must realize that their success in achieving their business strategy and reaping long-term benefits depends on having a strong architecture. One that recognizes that cloud is a tool that should adjust to the needs of the enterprise, and not the other way around.

“The approach that we have within IBM is one of a hybrid multi-cloud. We believe that you will be taking cloud consumption from a public perspective, but also you will build out your own private clouds. And you will also continue to have your applications run on more traditional resource pools.

“That allows you to have that flexibility both from an on-prem and off-prem perspective, but also the need to have a multi-cloud offering means that you are able to take services from more than one provider. And your selection of those providers wouldn’t just be economic. It would be based upon the security and controls they’ve built into their clouds so you can have peace of mind that your applications and data are running in a safe manner,” Boville said in his keynote on Day 2 of the inaugural IBM Cloud Forum 2020.

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Technology

Cloud-first world is new normal, says IBM Asia Pacific GM

IBM Asia Pacific General Manager Brenda Harvey says businesses must rethink how work can be done and services are provided in a cloud-first world. Image credit: IBM / Ray Chua
IBM Asia Pacific General Manager Brenda Harvey says businesses must rethink how work can be done and services are provided in a cloud-first world. Image credit: IBM / Ray Chua

Is your business ready for the cloud-first world? It’s not enough to reopen your business. Rethink your strategy for the post-pandemic world.

In her keynote that kicked off IBM Cloud Forum 2020, IBM Asia Pacific General Manager Brenda Harvey stressed that cloud computing will not only help businesses overcome the challenges posed today by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cloud computing will also be the vital building block that ensures your business will survive in the cloud-first world that is emerging.

“This crisis has proven beyond a doubt that hybrid cloud is underpinning platforms that are redefining businesses and ecosystems as we emerge smarter and more resilient through COVID-19. Before I get into the specifics around cloud and AI, one thing I hope that we have all learned from this crisis is the power of collaboration and trusted partnerships to solve problems, overcome challenges, and rethink how work can be done and services provided,” Harvey said.

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Technology

Manulife PH ready for new normal from Day 1, says CEO

Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company's digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.
Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company’s digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to businesses. Manulife Philippines, however, has found it easier to adjust to the new business environment. This is thanks to its digital transformation journey for the past two years.

“The changes the COVID-19 pandemic have forced upon us have both put our digital transformation strategy to the test, and validated that we, as an organization, have taken many steps in the right direction,” Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates told Digital Life Asia.

“When Manulife Philippines moved to a new head office location in 2019, we also made investments in our hardware and network infrastructure to enable new ways of working. The introduction of FlexWork to our team provided us with the tools and flexibility that allowed 100 percent of our employees to work from home from the onset of the community quarantine. There was no disruption to our operations. We were up and running, from our homes, from day one,” he said.

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Technology

Remote learning here to stay, says Mapua president

Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.
Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.

Online education has been around for many years. Yet just as the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses, so too is it changing the education system. This is why schools must accept that remote learning will be part of the new normal.

“The quarantine accelerated the adoption of online education. When the schools reopen, possibly in August, many students and parents, I believe, would still be fearful of face-to-face classes. There would be a need for an online option. Having developed their capabilities to implement online education, the schools would most probably want to keep it as an alternative mode of delivery over the long term. Online education will be a facet of life in the new normal,” Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea told Digital Life Asia.

“In order to thrive in the new normal, schools must prepare themselves to implement remote learning, whether the approach be through fully online education or through distance education. The former requires learners to have the required device and connectivity for it to be effective. The latter is more forgiving. The medium of the materials could be electronic (USB, DVD) and print, and the manner of content delivery could be electronic (internet, TV, radio) and physical (postal/courier, bookstore, in-school). Aside from satisfying demand from a segment of the student market, remote learning could also help schools solve physical distancing concerns in the classroom by reducing the resident student population at any given time,” he said.

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Technology

RCBC all-digital bank also inclusion super app, says EVP

RCBC EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva says exciting times are ahead with the upcoming launch of the RCBC all-digital bank.
RCBC EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva says exciting times are ahead with the upcoming launch of the RCBC all-digital bank.

As Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) ramps up its digital transformation, it will launch an all-digital bank that will drive financial inclusion in the Philippines.

“RCBC will be launching an all-digital bank and it will be sooner rather than later. The company is not afraid to look towards the future and accept that legacy banking may be a thing of the past. A peek into what we have ahead: this new product will not only be an all-digital bank but also an inclusion super app — with an array of services that is more than what is offered in the market today. Exciting times are coming,” Lito Villanueva, EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer of RCBC, told Digital Life Asia.

Villanueva is concurrently the Chief Digital Transformation Advisor of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC). He emphasized the important role that digital transformation plays in financial inclusion.

“I believe that digital transformation is the wrecking ball that will bring down real and perceived barriers to financial inclusion for Filipinos. For one, majority of Filipinos already own mobile phones and are connected online. If we could bring financial services to their electronic devices, then we do not only have one foot in the door but we will literally be inside their homes. Well, digital transformation is not just about technology or devices. It is about mindset, culture, and people,” Villanueva said.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

BSP chief: 50% of retail payments to be digital by 2023

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The Philippines has embraced the digital imperative, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor . In line with this, at least 5o percent of the country’s retail payments will already shift to digital by 2023.

“There is no arguing that the new economy is digital. Our aspirations for a more inclusive and prosperous post-COVID world necessitate putting in place the critical pillars of a digital economy, including robust digital infrastructure, digital skills, e-government, digital ID, and an enabling legal/regulatory framework. All these have given new urgency to BSP’s longstanding financial inclusion and digital transformation agenda for the financial sector,” said Diokno.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said that by 2023, at least 50 percent of the country's retail payments will already be digital.

“The BSP committed by the end of my term at least 50 percent of retail payment transactions shifted to digital, and 70 percent of adult Filipinos having and using a transaction account. Towards this end, the BSP has drawn up a three-year digital payments transformation roadmap outlining our priority policy initiatives, including open banking.”