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On SGQR, Singapore's unified QR code payment system

  • SGQR code is purportedly Singapore’s effort in “unifying” the fragmented e-payment market – what with DBS PayLah!, Singtel Dash, Grab Pay, LiquidPay, AliPay etc coming into the fray.
  • In other words, ideally a consumer can use his/her preferred payment app to make payment to a merchant through SGQR.
  • On the upside, consumer will only see one QR code per merchant.
  • On the downside, while the SGQR specification can enable multiple e-payment providers, merchants are unlikely to sign up with ALL of them (up to 27 payment schemes).
  • So you can end up in a situation where you see a SGQR code but are unable to use your preferred payment app (say Grab Pay) to make payment.
  • After some research, I found on MAS website that it’s based on EMVCo QR code.
  • It’s clear that this QR code contains meta-data for only some payment providers.

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Kidney Stones Are More Beautiful Than You Might Think

  • Kidney stones, the painful urinary deposits that affect more than 10 percent of people worldwide, are surprisingly dynamic, forming much like microscopic coral reefs, according to new research that could provide insights into how to better diagnose and treat the condition.
  • Dr. Fouke, whose research projects have taken him skiing through Yellowstone National Park and scuba-diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, saw early connections between human kidney stones and the coral skeletons, hot spring travertine and even oil and gas migration deep below the planet’s surface: Interactions between living things, water and mineral growth occur in all three.
  • Dr. Fouke and his fellow researchers examined more than 50 kidney stone fragments from six Mayo Clinic patients using various light and electron microscopes.
  • A high-resolution method, called Airyscan super-resolution microscopy, captured colorful snapshots of organic matter and crystal layers in the kidney stones, “crosscut and truncated” by newer crevices, triangles and other geometrics, Dr. Fouke said.

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Alibaba is aiming to launch its first AI inference chip in the second half of 2019

  • The Chinese firm said at an event in Hangzhou on Wednesday that the new subsidiary would make customised AI chips and embedded processors to support the firm’s push into fast-growing cloud and internet of things (IoT) businesses.
  • Alibaba’s aggressive drive to develop its own semiconductors comes as China’s government looks to raise the quality of home-made chips to help propel high-tech domestic industries from cutting-edge transport to AI healthcare systems.
  • In April, Alibaba bought a Chinese microchip maker Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems to help bolster its cloud-based “internet of things” (IoT) business.
  • Jack Ma, Alibaba co-founder and chairman, said then that China needed to control its “core technology” like chips to avoid over-reliance on U.S. imports, something which has been put in the spotlight by whipsawing trade tensions.

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Retail investors explain Soul Patts and Brickworks value gap

  • One logical explanation for the discount to net assets gap is that Robert Millner and Todd Barlow at Soul Patts has been much better at attracting retail investors than Lindsay Partridge at Brickworks.
  • Millner, who is executive chairman of Soul Patts and Brickworks, says retail investors like investing in Soul Patts because of its dividend growth and its defensive qualities in times of volatility.
  • He says that over the past three years Soul Patts has seen a 58 per cent increase in retail investors on its share register from about 12,000 to 19,000.
  • Millner says Partridge, who is chief executive of Brickworks, will be doing more to attract retail investors.
  • Soul Patts shares were trading at $23.90 on Thursday morning, which is just above the inferred value of net assets of about $22.72.

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Aged care royal commission won't be 'free-for-all for lawyers'

  • When it comes to the royal commission into the aged care sector, don't expect a repeat of the Hayne banking royal commission with top-tier firms at 10 paces.
  • But Thomson Geer partner Arthur Koumoukelis said people shouldn't expect a repeat of the banking royal commission "trying to pick out all the bad stories" – at least not if the commissioner wants to get to the bottom of what's actually going on.
  • Mr Koumoukelis said due to the sheer number of operators in the sector, the aged care royal commission would likely look quite different to the banking royal commission, which is predominantly made up of well resourced for-profit firms.
  • Maddocks partner Lucille Scomazzon said the aged care royal commission, and any additional regulatory burden it may recommend, could also prove to be "a line in the sand" for many operators and lead to greater consolidation in the sector.

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Banking royal commission exposes Suncorp's 'very low cost of doing business' with ASIC

  • The corporate regulator hit Suncorp with a $43,200 fine for promoting an insurance policy in an misleading way, instead of the $7.2 million the company was liable for, the Hayne royal commission has heard.
  • Counsel assisting the royal commission Rowena Orr, QC, asked Suncorp's Gary Dransfield about a decision to continue promising customers complete replacement as part of home and contents insurance long after the regulator had expressed concern about the statement.
  • The Australian Securities and Investments Commission would eventually serve Suncorp with four infringement notices for making false and misleading representations under section 12DB of the ASIC Act. ASIC would spell out in the notices that although it was within its rights to pursue the insurer for $1.8 million for each offence, or $7.2 million in total, it would only seek a fine of $10,800 for each offence or $43,200 in total.
  • Mr Dransfield said although he accepted the Commissioner's view, Suncorp's board and risk management committees took the matters seriously.

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Emerging markets could actually benefit from the trade war, says pension fund

  • Tit-for-tat trade tariffs between the United States and China are widely expected to hit developing countries hard as they rely heavily on exports to fuel growth.
  • But there's one bright spot, according to one of the world's biggest pension funds.
  • International trade pressures could eventually force the governments of emerging economies to implement structural changes and long-term reforms, Suyi Kim, senior managing director and head of Asia Pacific at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin on Thursday.
  • That would be highly beneficial for long-term investors such as the CPPIB, Kim told CNBC.

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Julia Gillard on resilience after misogyny

  • She says the institute, which has appointed a director, Professor Rosie Campbell, will disseminate its practical findings to women’s activist groups, political parties, governments, companies, civil society and other research centres to ensure the information about what works “gets into the hands of those most able to use it”.
  • The institute is in its early stages but Ms Gillard says planned work includes: providing more empirical evidence of the effectiveness of gender diversity initiatives; examining how to engage men and boys in the fight for gender equality; and how to share experience and knowledge better across borders.
  • Even in the few years since she left her top job, there has been significant progress in remedying gender inequality, spurred both by popular movements such as #MeToo, which campaigns against sexual harassment in the workplace, and by a growing body of research, to which the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership hopes to add.
  • Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister, on resilience in the face of misogyny.

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3D-printed gun advocate Cody Wilson wanted for child sexual assault

  • Cody Wilson, an active proponent of 3D-printed guns, has been accused of having sex with an underage girl in Austin, Texas – which amounts to child sexual assault, as the victim is under 17.
  • According to this affidavit shared by Austin-based reported Tony Plohetski, Wilson is accused of meeting a 16-year-old girl through a site called SugarDaddyMeet.com, and paying her $500 for sex last month.
  • If he’s prosecuted, Wilson could face up to 20 years in prison, and be fined $10,000.
  • Besides the grave consequences for Wilson, this will likely deal a blow to his mission of making it easy for people to create their own firearms by sharing 3D printing files online.
  • He’s the founder of Texas-based non-profit Defense Distributed (DD), which sought to create a marketplace for such files.

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Amazon reportedly plans to open 3,000 cashier-less stores by 2021

  • Amazon is said to be interested in beating grocery stores at their own game by opening 3,000 more of its cashier-less Amazon Go shops over the next three years, reports Bloomberg.
  • They’re billed automatically through their Amazon accounts, and they don’t need to wait in line to pay for their purchases.
  • The ecommerce giant revealed plans (and a trial store) for its futuristic stores back in 2016, and opened the first Amazon Go location to the public in Seattle this January.
  • There are plans to open six more by the end of the year, and up to 50 stores in 2019.
  • The idea is to open up stores in dense urban areas with large populations of young, well-to-do folks who are happy to pay a premium for high-quality meals on the go.
  • Plus, Microsoft is building tech for cashier-less stores which it might eventually license to retailers.

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